‘A negative thought is a luxury you cannot afford.’ This is a phrase that I have repeated to myself often in the past seven years. Back in 2012 I attended a three-day positive mental attitude course which realigned my professional and personal mindsets, as well as, bizarrely, ridding my lifelong phobia of dogs!
The temptation to have a good rant and a moan is strong and, being Brits, is fairly well ingrained in our DNA. And while there’s nothing wrong with getting things off our chests from time to time, this predilection towards negativity being central to our way of thinking is highly toxic – particularly in this age of social media, clickbait and fake news and understandable concerns relating to politics, economics, society and environment.
Without hope, there cannot be change. Without highlighting success stories, there cannot be inspiration. Without celebrating success, there cannot be sustainable impact.
There is a need to redress this balance in the media, on social media and in our own daily lives. ‘Good news’ must hold parity of esteem with ‘bad news’.
I have been incredibly lucky over the course of my career to work with some incredible organisations and individuals making a difference in their communities and for causes in which they believe in passionately.
The Wood Foundation recently hosted our annual celebration for our Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) programme. More than 1000 young people descended upon Perth Concert Hall to celebrate their role as part of #generationchange. These secondary pupils were responsible for directing £750,000 to grassroots, social services charities in Scotland across the academic year. More importantly, they had been given the space to research what the issues impacting their community were and empowered to use their voices, time and skills to understand their impact as active citizens to tackle issues relating to topics including mental health, period poverty, LGBTQI+ and domestic abuse. To hear these young people speak with such confidence, creativity and power is an incredible ray of hope.
Over the course of our event, YPI’s twitter profile engagement increased more than 10-fold. This proved there is an appetite to engage with the positive, to look to the future with a collective sense of hope and purpose.
I volunteer, and have also worked with, a charity called Contact the Elderly which organises monthly tea parties for older people who live alone. BBC Social approached us about profiling what these relationships mean for our guests. Within a week of the video focussing on one of our wonderful guests Ina was shared across their social media platforms, it had been viewed almost one million times.
Our guests have a lot of sadness in their lives but that’s never the focus of our get-togethers. Instead we spend two, and often more, hours talking about happy memories in their lives, local gossip and shared interests.
Reflecting on my time at Indigo, we supported a young boy called Jack who decided to take requests for drawings to raise money for the Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital which his brother Noah attended regularly. Expecting to raise £100 at a school fair, Jack, who was six at the time, went on to raise tens of thousands of pounds, have a book published and be featured in international media.
There is so much good in the world. There is also a lot of bad and it is very easy to get sucked into a trap of polarisation, resentment and anger. Thus, I often repeat to myself the mantra which opened this piece ‘a negative thought is a luxury you cannot afford’.
Take time to celebrate the #PowerOfGood. Even in the worst of circumstances, there will be stories of inspiration which will restore your faith in humanity and are the most affordable of luxuries.
Communications Manager at The Wood Foundation and former Indigo PR Senior Account Manager