Wow! It’s been a while. Life overtook me for a while, but I’m back on the case now! I hope all’s been well in everyone’s rock pool.
So recently I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed by all the frightening things going on in the world, and in the UK. Though a powerful international media is wonderful for many things (including raising awareness of various issues & promoting relief efforts), they do provoke a lot of fear, and it’s often hard to know how accurately they’re portraying events. It’s a sad fact that fear sells news, though it can leave us (as it left me), feeling helpless and hopeless, against a tide of seemingly unconquerable bad.
Just yesterday I was chatting to a friend who echoed these feelings. She’s a wonderfully good-hearted and caring person (a nurse actually- one of life’s superheroes!), but was also feeling overwhelmed by all the negative things happening in the world. Our conversation got me thinking about how much these feelings restrict us and stop us from taking action and making a difference.
So how do you stay hopeful when the internet, the TV, the newspapers are all telling you that the world is a terrible place?
Here’s how I deal:
- Switch off the flow of bad news. Put down your newspaper, turn off your internet, and if you want to watch TV, stick to light-hearted programmes. Give yourself time to rebuild your mental resilience. You can’t take positive action until you’re on a strong footing yourself and reading/watching more fear-inducing news will just make you feel worse.
- Counter the negative impression of the world given by the mainstream media by reading about the good things that are happening, the acts of kindness going on. Check out the Good News Network, Positive News and Kindspring. There’s also the Happy Newspaper in the UK, which is a great resource to keep on your coffee table for an instant burst of happiness.
- Remember that our brains have evolved to have a built-in negative bias. This means in simple terms that we’re more likely to believe the worst and that we need a lot of positive things to happen to fight the feelings raised by a single bad thing. We can combat this, but it takes time and effort. Still, just being aware of this bias can help us deal with excess anxiety and fear, and to analyze events in a more measured way.
- Read the Starfish Story. It’s available in various forms across the internet but all echo the same meaning, the same reminder that though we cannot help everyone, we can make a positive difference to individuals. Even if you’ve read it before, this is a good time to read it again.
- Do something. While you probably can’t fix a global issue by yourself, you can almost always help in some way. Sign a petition, write to your MP, donate to a charity, buy a Good Gift, share information on social media, volunteer, run a fundraiser or get sponsored for something, litterpick, recycle… there is always something you can do!
- Do a random act of kindness to make someone’s day. Happy people are more trusting, less fearful and more likely to be kind themselves. By doing one RAK you could be starting a wave of kindness that has no end!
Most of us cannot, individually, make huge changes on a global scale (though in working with others, we can certainly make these changes happen). However we still have the power to make a difference.
We can create bubbles of safety and community and kindness around ourselves. We can reach out to those in need around us. We can clean up and nurture the little piece of Earth we’re standing on. We can do random acts of kindness for strangers, reminding them, perhaps at a crucial moment, that the world is full of joyful surprises and good-hearted people. We can fill our lives, and the lives of those around us, with magic. Those little drops are what create oceans. And an ocean is the most powerful force on the planet.
You are important. You can make a difference.