How to find joy and rainbows, when rain falls.

Sometimes I find myself craving good news, and this month more so than usual. 

It’s been a difficult start to the year; a dear friend’s child took his own life. It’s been a heartbreaking few weeks, and I’d like to make a plea to my readers; don’t suffer in silence. If you feel low, do please seek help. We are all are worth much more to our family and friends than we realise. If you can’t talk to those you love, or your local GP, help is available, 24 hours a day, from the Samaritans; call 116 123. Calls are free. https://www.samaritans.org. If you are feeling good, offer kindness and support to anyone you feel might need it.

Feeling low is not surprising. We are constantly bombarded with information that makes us anxious. Much we can’t do anything about. For this reason I have long avoided the news. Some things we can change, and the results of those changes are taking effect in a positive way; more of which later…

Some of the bad things we confront will make us angry; for example I feel furious when I see trees needlessly culled, as happened in Plymouth city centre last year. John Lydon of the Sex Pistols sang “anger is an energy.” This is often true, and action motivated by anger can be powerful. But anger is also energy sapping; it’s good in short bursts, but is ultimately unsustainable.

Becoming overwhelmed by bad news is also disempowering. We are left thinking “What’s the point? What I do won’t make any difference.” While this is understandable, it is usually untrue; collectively our actions do matter.

We become empowered when we ourselves are in a place of strength, rather than helplessness. In a healthy frame of mind we can be compassionate, forward thinking and ready to make meaningful change happen. Acting on something we feel passionate about helps to give us a sense of purpose. 

Starting to notice and capture the joy in everyday action really helps to strengthen the psyche. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Work out what makes you feel good that doesn’t cost money. Work out what makes you feel helpless. What can you cut out of your day that brings you down?

In my search for something that would lift my spirits I picked up a magazine called Positive News from Plymouth train station. Listed below are a few gleaned facts that I felt were good to know.

China’s emissions forecast to fall

China, currently the world’s biggest polluter, has made such massive investments in renewable energy its emissions are forecast to start shrinking. Much of our carbon footprint comes from imported goods from China, so this is welcome news.

A ‘right to grow motion’ passed in Hull

Hull city council has adopted a motion to give local community groups, charities and neighbours a formalised “right to grow”. This lets people grow produce on council land that is lying unused. Not just a great idea, but also one that could potentially be repeated throughout the country. Next stop Cornwall?

An initiative to eradicate rats on Lundy has led to soaring populations of puffins, storm petrels and Manx shearwaters. In addition blue whales have been seen returning to the Indian Ocean, where they had once been wiped out by whaling. Proof that given the right conditions nature can recover.

Massive Attack are planning a one day festival that will be powered by 100% renewable energy, setting a precedent for low-carbon festivals of the future.

The RSPB has made its 200 reserves in the UK free of charge to 16 to 24 year olds, as part of an initiative to lure young people back to nature. 

Secondhand sales are rising, as people seek sustainable alternatives to fast fashion and poor quality throwaway goods. This is being supported by big companies and supermarket brands teaming up in a bid to tackle waste, as part of the Circular Change Council. This is in partnership with a climate action campaign group called the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) and hopes to see the reuse of 22m items of furniture, including the 4.8m sofas that get thrown away in the UK each year.

There were many more examples of positive news , too many to list here, from high tech solutions to problems, to an increase in the number of people writing poetry. 

When times are bleak, it is too easy to fall into a rabbit hole and see the negatives rather than the positives, and there have been plenty of bleak headlines in 2023 and 2024. Finding positive things to celebrate can be a good way to recharge the batteries and contextualise the power we have to make our worlds better.

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