There’s been so much bad news over the past year, indeed over the past decade, that it can feel overwhelming. It’s a situation made all the more toxic by the Trump White House and the Brexit mess.
Aware of the prevalence of bad news stories, and the impact they have on readers, The New York Times newspaper decided some time ago to introduce a feature called The Week in Good News. This weekly newsletter, it explains, is meant to send the reader into the weekend with a smile, or at least a lighter heart. It includes little items of good news that readers otherwise might have missed, little stories that act as a welcome counterpoint to the surfeit of bad news that fills the rest of the paper.
A good approach to the new year would be for us to focus more on good news and less on bad news, those stories or opinion pieces that agitate or divide. While we can’t avoid the news if we wish to be informed, we can choose how to process it.
My advice to self this January is to remember three words beginning with the letter ‘c’ that I hope to incorporate into my daily living:
1. Be clean. English is a rich language with about one million words. We don’t need to use bad language to express ourselves, even if an image of Trump or Jacob Rees Mogg pops up on the screen.
2. Be courteous. Use only words that are respectful, that honour rather than dishonour the other. This is hard to do, especially if we get angry easily or suffer from road rage, as I do.
3. Be constructive. Use words that are positive, not negative; that build up rather than knock down, that are life-enhancing rather than life-diminishing. This means resisting the urge to gossip or to damage another’s character, which is also hard to do, especially in the highly inflamed social media world of today.
The power of language is extraordinary. We should try to use it in a positive way.