No it’s not!
Teenagers are hooligans!
No they’re not!
Kids today – they don’t know they’re born!
It was better in my day!
No it wasn’t!
Old people are always whinging!
No they’re not!
Mental health is at it’s worst!
You may have a point.
I want to correct a few myths: there are no more violent criminals, sex offenders, murderers, losers or wasters than there were before. Read a Shakespearean history or tragedy and you’ll see that those times were far more dangerous than now.
What is different is that we are all better educated. We’re literate. And my goodness that literacy has gone wild – it’s everywhere, newspapers, magazines, social media, posters in shop windows… In addition, we’ve made leaps and bounds with technology and again wow – news on the television, radio, social media again, emails…
So what has happened is that we all know far more than we did before. Back in Shakespeare’s time, if someone murdered somebody in London, it was unlikely a person in Newcastle would hear about it. Not only did the news not travel far enough or fast enough, but the murders were likely to have been far more frequent and therefore not as shocking as it is today.
What has stayed the same is that bad news makes great gossip. Nobody cares that a teenager held the door open for me today as I struggled with too many bags of shopping, but they all want to know about the teenager who threatened another with a knife. Just as in the 1500s bad news is the news that travels. The difference is that it now travels at lightening speed all across the whole world. Therefore, it feels like our lives are constantly threatened by evil. Sometimes it feels that the whole world is wicked and nothing good is happening. On top of that, the wonderful computer algorithms can exacerbate that feeling. Yesterday, I was looking on line for a new bed – now, whether I’m on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Google or wherever, I keep getting adverts for a new bed. The same happens with bad news – if you open a document about a dog being stolen, the algorithms will suddenly inundate you with stories of stolen dogs until you feel it’s no longer safe to have a dog and make you completely paranoid if you already have one.
I don’t know if mental health is worse now, because it used to be a taboo subject. I’m sure it’s always been far bigger than we ever realised, but I do wonder if it’s even worse now, due in part to the way we are inundated with news (almost exclusively bad news) from waking first thing in the morning (I always check my updates once I’ve turned my alarm off), to going to bed (I always check my updates once I’ve got into bed). I know I’m not the only one obsessed with my phone!
Well that’s all pretty miserable isn’t it! But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be. Remember those algorithms? They can work in your favour too. Search for a happy kitten and you’ll be inundated with happy kittens, search for a hero story and you’ll be inundated with hero stories. Top tip: I love the Good News Network on Facebook for this. You can play a part too – try to share lots of positive thoughts. If you’re having a good day, let people know. It will make someone else’s day and then they too may share something positive for you to see. It will pop up in your Facebook memories and make you smile again on that day each year for the rest of your Facebook life. 😊
Of course, if you’re having a bad day, we all know it can negatively affect your mental health to keep it to yourself. I’m definitely not saying to hide your feelings. If your way of dealing with it is to share on Facebook that’s your decision, personally, I find it more beneficial to speak to a friend or family member face to face when I’m struggling. But you know you and you need to do what’s right for you.
However, when we are having a good day, how can we make sure our perception of the world avoids negativity and focuses on positivity? It would be nice if, upon finding something we don’t like, we thought what we could do to make it better instead of just complaining and feeling down about it. Helping others and fixing problems raises your spirits and your self-esteem. If your local school committee is not doing enough for the children, join their committee. They are probably desperate for extra helpers. If the town’s full of litter, organise a litter-picking group – our borough council supply litter pickers and bags for the local town group.
If you do have to make a complaint about a business, be sure to balance the karma by sending a letter or card complimenting another business. You’ll make that business’s day and you’ll feel much better too. 😊
Take back control. Make your own little world a better place and watch the love spread. That reminds me of this awesome little video. Clearly designed for very young children but I love it and I’m a not-so-young grown-up! The Pig of Happiness
Keep smiling folks and spread the love. 😊