Happiness is an essential part of everyday life. We all know the benefits of waking up in the morning and looking forward to our day. We turn on the television or open the newspaper, hopefully finding some happy, feel good news, enabling our cheerful mood to continue.
Everyone’s perspective of feel good news is different, of course. According to child psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Nehrer, simply smiling can help us to think more positively. It also acts as a coping mechanism for any negative issues we may be going through.
With the increased tensions in the world and a global pandemic, it's almost impossible to ignore the negative news circulating in the media. To counteract it, there has been a clear rise in feel good news; news solely designed to increase happiness levels.
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An article by Ray Williams from ‘Wired For Success’, printed in Psychology Today, provides a quote from Loretta Garziano Breuning, the author of ‘Meet Your Happy Chemicals’. In this quote, she contends that deep anxiety can result from following predominately negative news.
Stories to make you smile: feel good by reading positive press
However, it's that very mechanism of 'feel good' news which helps to make us feel happier. It also appears to help to limit anxiety, allowing us to feel more contented and able to cope with and resolve problems.
Many mainstream newspapers now feature positive news stories daily in their publications. Indeed, 'good news' sections can be found on the following sites:
Additionally, every month here on happiness.com we publish The Bright Side, a round-up of the Top 10 happy news stories from the past 30 days. There are also many sites out there dedicated to only publishing positive news:
It's easy to go through our day reading inspirational or funny stories. This feel good news appears to have come about because research shows that we choose to read depressing stories as a matter of course. That's according to an experiment carried out at the McGill University by researchers Marc Trussler and Stuart Soroka.
The idea behind feel good news is that it's important to counteract the negativity of bad news. Feel good stories can achieve a positive mood, attitude and happiness.
Editors may believe that negative news sells, since many people choose that it over good news. However, Denise Baden’s research indicates that it's having adverse effects on our well-being. Framing news in such a negative and shocking style might be good for business, but it's not good for mental health or society.
Inspiring stories appear to create a feeling of optimism. The question is: do we actually believe in this optimism long-term or is it just a form of escapism? In an article in The Guardian, philosopher Pascal Bruckner states that although humanity has many problems, he's prepared to believe that ‘something will turn up’ to put things right. This in itself is a fine display of optimism.
Sometimes we can read or hear feel good news that relates to ourselves, but, most often, it has to do with other people or places. This immediately offers us escapism. For example, picturing ourselves in the situation or location of the news: a big lottery winner or an inspirational story of human kindness. The need for escapism is usually within us all and, unless we are in a position to just jump on an airplane to a warm, sunny beach somewhere, then this type of news can often provide a great substitute.
“The idea behind feel good news is that it's important to counteract the negativity of bad news. Feel good stories can achieve a positive mood and happiness.”
One of the main reasons why the need for feel good news arose is because it provides us with a positive way forward. Quite simply, it makes us happy and when we are happy our perspective on life in general increases enormously. This, in turn, adds to our feeling of well-being, which also offers great health benefits.
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In fact, happiness can help to reduce high blood pressure, according to Science Daily. It also increases levels of dopamine, one of our happiness hormones. People who are feeling lonely might find that reading heartwarming news can help them to keep in touch with other people's lives and to think outside of the box. Therefore, the conclusion could well be that the positive psychology offered by good news stories creates both escapism and optimism.
So why do we read sad stories? Perhaps the potential role of 'eudaimonic' or meaning-making motives provides a reason. We know it's going to be sad, but we read it anyway, perhaps hoping for a happy ending or a great solution to a problem that's been bothering us. If there isn't one, then our feel good factor can drop and we start to look for something that will cheer us up.
Perfect endings can create joy and positive psychology, which could also be the reason why television newsreaders will always try to end newscasts on a positive news story. This allows them to conclude with a smile.
For example, climate change is a problem that worries us all and is constantly in the news. We'd much prefer to read a story like this from the World Wildlife Organisation. One that tells us the world leaders are all pulling together to save our planet. We're immediately given hope for the future. In return, this creates that all important positivity that we crave.
Good news is vital, but without a suitable ending, it serves no purpose towards increasing our level of happiness. We must consider, however, that a lot of news does not have a happy ending. One must wonder, does the provision of good news stories have more to do with increasing readership than our well-being?
Positive press: good news creates good vibes
We choose what we wish to read, nobody decides for us. So, it's impossible to be critical of the media which supplies us with these stories, especially when they're giving out information that, not only gives us pleasure but also inspires us. As an example, there's a story about a police officer who was sent to break up a dance party; instead, this kind man taught the youngsters how to Salsa.
Social media can also assist in improving our mood and world perception as it's probably the most popular way of exchanging information and expressing opinions. According to ProCon.org, it's the most used form of communication during times of crisis. Especially since it's the ideal way to deliver messages asking for support. This often creates immediate responses and offers of help, turning sad news into something more positive.
“Perfect endings can create joy and positive psychology, which could also be the reason why television newsreaders will try to end on a positive spin.”
Whether the feel good news appears as a story or a picture, the effect it can have on our mood or perception of the world is enormous and instantaneous. Sometimes it offers us solutions or different options and a wider point of view.
Our Facebook feeds, for example, are often full of feel good news stories. Our friends, family and colleagues post them. This not only creates a feeling of positivity but also happiness, according to a study of 1,910 people from 91 different countries, conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University together with Facebook researchers.
An article in Psychology Today recounts a study from Seaward BL, 'Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being.' In it, the article states that smiling starts the process of releasing neuropeptides which work towards helping us to fight off stress.
To do this, we should try to make the time to focus on delightful news stories that put a smile on our faces. The ensuing positivity can often help us to discover solutions to resolve our own problems. An article by Positive.News shows results from research carried out at Southampton University involving over 2,000 respondents. It found that bad news led to negative mood swings and anxiety, while a positive news story led to a greater feeling of motivation and hope.
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From the perspective of positive psychology, waking up in the morning to feel good news can easily set our mood for the rest of the day. Simply by focusing on the solution rather than the problem could make us realise that perhaps our issues or worries have resolutions. That maybe, they are not quite as bad as they first seemed.
Thinking outside of the box will often help us to see the bigger picture. Most importantly, it will help us to realise that happiness is within our grasp because feel good news is just at the touch of a keyboard. ●
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