Today is apparently Random Acts of Kindness day. A day on which to make the world a somewhat more kind, positive place by performing a random act of kindness. Here’s Richard Branson’s list of 15 ideas.
It feels like we live in a particularly divided, divisive world of late, and focusing on things like this from time to time seems critically important – not just on one random day of the year, but every day.
It’s harder than it sounds.
What we like to call “good news” is difficult to find, even in the best of times. It’s not that it’s not out there – just the opposite in fact. The problem is one of visibility. Good news is more commonplace than most realize, so much so as not to be “news” at all but instead something we take for granted. It’s also more difficult to call attention to with a click-bait headline or over dramatized lead. Unfortunately the outlets that have attempted it just end up giving “good news” a bad reputation as they promote what typically turns out to be thin, disappointing content with over-sensationalized headlines and multi-page ad-laden web pages.
Bad news sells newspapers. And as we know there’s no shortage of bad, scary news these days. Visiting the home page of my local newspaper resulted in a screen full of the latest political fears, concerns, and atrocities. The closest thing to anything positive was near the bottom – an article about an airline resuming coach food service on longer flights. Sadly even that is more likely to generate cynicism these days than any belief in the fundamental goodness of man.
Not until I hit “Page Down” to examine the rest of the page “below the fold”, as it’s called online, did a positive story appear. (“‘Treasure life’: wisdom from a former AIDS nurse“).
And you know that it’ll get a mere fraction of the attention that all the politics and world news above it will get.
Taking on HeroicStories a couple of years ago (and, indeed, becoming a major supporter many years prior to that) has always been my small attempt to make positive stories more visible, more accessible, and more popular. Little did I know how much the world would come to need them.
But it’s not enough. Not only have I not promoted HeroicStories as much as perhaps I could, even day to day I find it too easy to slip back into the “oh my gosh!” discussions of the latest scandal. And as I’ve written about before, this path has been leading to malaise and depression.
I also know I’m not alone in that regard.
So, I’m going to try something. Each day I’m going find something positive, like the news story I referenced above, actually read it, for my own benefit, and then share it – probably on Facebook. Just another way to give positivity a little more visibility. [Update 2/26: I took this one step further. See notallnewsisbad.com.]
Imagine if we all did something like that. It’s tempting to say “instead of” the other news of the day, but – honestly – that other news is still important. What’s more critical is balance – that we not see only the bad news, the salacious story, the latest outrage. It’s important that we also see that there’s a ton of good things going on, that most people are basically good, and that the world isn’t as completely negative as the headlines might make it all out to be.
Even if no one pays attention to it, it’ll be good for me.
You might consider doing something similar yourself. Simply exposing yourself more positive things will improve your outlook, and help you be more resilient and capable of dealing the the rest.