Like most people, I hate bad news. It scares me. My heart aches for the families whose lives are forever changed by tragedy. I feel like there's little I can do to help. I feel like the chaos is getting closer and closer to home. And I feel like it's always just around the corner.
I try to remind myself that although bad news will always be there, I don't have to tune into it every second. Each time the BBC News app alert goes off on my phone my heart skips a beat and I think to myself, "what now?". I should really just delete the app but the FOMO is real. I feel torn between wanting to stay up to date with current affairs and wanting to shut myself away from it because I feel I can't cope with the emotional weight of the world's problems.
I recently read 'Happy' by Fearne Cotton and a section written by her mum really resonated with me. She said that we have (until relatively recently) only needed (and therefore only had) the emotional capacity to deal with the pain of a community, but as the world has gotten smaller, and news has travelled further and faster, our emotional capacity hasn't increased yet we're trying to cope with the pain of a whole world.
I started to think more consciously about the media I consume and how reading the news affects my energy levels. I now check the headlines in the morning, but try to avoid reading the news just before bed. Maybe I will delete that BBC News app...
One of the best antidotes to the fear of the big chaotic world we live in that I've come across time and time again is gratitude. Wanting to know more about how it could help, I reached out to Nisha of Good News Shared, a website sharing positive stories from around the world to balance out some of the negativity.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and Good News Shared
A BSc Human Psychology graduate, I have had an interest in human behaviour and motivations for a long time. During the past fifteen years I have volunteered and worked for a number of charities in the UK. It was while working for a small national charity supporting isolated older people in 2014 that I decided to start Good News Shared.
The Good News Shared website features uplifting charitable stories from around the world. Our aim is to show people the good stuff happening around us - and so helping them feel more positive and optimistic. We also want to help charities, especially smaller ones, to highlight the impact they are having.
In December 2016 we launched The Moments Journal, a guided journal that I created after realising the importance of recognising positive things in my own day-to-day life and taking the time to pause and write them down.
2. What are your top tips for staying positive in a world that's often dominated by bad news?
I think having a balance is important. So if you spend 30 minutes a day watching or reading mainstream news, spend the same amount of time watching or reading something positive.
Also I think it is important to appreciate all the good things that happen in our own lives - no matter how big or small they are. For example, feeling grateful for someone offering you a seat on the bus in the morning will help you remember that good things do happen - even though sometimes (mainly when watching the news!) it can feel like the world is full of bad things and horrible people.
Finally, I think creating your own good news by doing something kind for someone else - either through official volunteering or just being a good neighbour - can help you stay positive, as giving and receiving acts of kindness can make you feel good, about yourself and the world.
3. What's the best way to incorporate Gratitude into our daily lives?
Setting specific time aside to think of things you are grateful for is the best way to make it a regular part of your day. I like to do it just before I go to sleep so that I can look back at my day and write down three things I am grateful for from it. It doesn’t take a long time, but having it as part of my evening routine means I always do it.
If you want to do it in the morning, a good way can be to list things you are grateful for aloud while in the shower. I think it’s useful to say it or write it down so it’s not just in your head. For me, actually writing things down helps me think about it more and remember it over time.
4. What are the health benefits of Gratitude that you've seen?
I started writing down three things I am grateful for each evening during a difficult personal time and I found it really helped me feel less anxious, more optimistic and more appreciative for what I have. I still write what I am grateful for in my journal every day and find it helps me appreciate things in the moment more. Also I have noticed that I tend to wake up with more energy than I used to.
5. What are you feeling grateful for today?
I am feeling grateful for being able to work and live in Lisbon. My husband and I moved here for a few months recently as we can work remotely - I have loved exploring Lisbon with my husband and feel so lucky that we get excited by little things like finding a new fruit and veg market!
Founded by Nisha Kotecha in 2014, Good News Shared is an incredible resource for highlighting uplifting charitable stories. Find out more at www.goodnewsshared.com.