When you take a look at a local or national newspaper or flip on the news — CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or the news channel of your choice — do you realize how negative and depressing all the recent news has been?
There have been months of violent uprisings in the the Middle East that have spread across Northern Africa. Citizens have been rising up against the dictators who have been ruling over them for decades, but they have been beaten and shot and killed for their protests. Why? They want freedoms like free and fair elections that the dictators don’t want to give.
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan, combined with a devastating tsunami, has killed close to 12,000 people to date, and has caused severe damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. As of now, it is leaking radioactive water into the sea, despite attempts to plug the leaks. Massive damage has been sustained at multiple reactors on the site, and workers trying to repair the situation are receiving massive doses of radiation. The effects of the radiation are unknown, but death is a possible outcome.
All this depressing news, along with the stories and updates on celebrities who crash and burn, reminds us of one thing: tragedy. There’s an old adage about the newspaper business: “If it bleeds, it leads.” With murders, robberies, rapes, natural disasters and other horrible things in the news on a daily basis, what can we do for a dose of positivity?
One thing is to think positively and look for uplifting, inspiring stories. News stories don’t necessarily have to be all rainbows and puppies rolling in the grass and sunshine to be considered happy. They can be depressing and work their way to a hopeful ending.
I was at a panel of Pipe Dream alums last semester and one alumnus, Matt Mendelsohn, brought up a freelance article he had written. It was about Lindsay Ess, a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate with a fashion degree, who lost her arms and legs after a botched surgery to remove an inflamed part of her intestines. Mendelsohn documented how she still managed to stay involved in fashion design through teaching. His editor killed the story because, in his words, it wasn’t “fucking happy.”
I don’t see how an inspirational story that takes the reader through one person’s hardships, perseverance and hopes for a brighter future, could be killed for this reason.
But apart from thinking positively and looking for inspiring stories, you’ve got to look for the little things in life that matter, that make life worth living. It shouldn’t be too hard to think of things, like weekly rituals that allow you to relax and let go a bit. I have a few, like making sure to say “hi” to the radio station “grandpa” after my Tuesday classes, hosting my own weekly radio show and spending a portion of my Thursday nights with friends. All these things and others brighten my day, even if it has been a crap day or a crap week, and remind me that life isn’t just revolutions, natural disasters or crazy celebrities.