Can Positivity Change the World?
‘The day is lost on which you have not laughed.’
My dad, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year, raised me with this positive mantra, inspired by the 18th Century French writer Nicholas Chamfort. Dad, otherwise known as Popski, influenced me to live a glass-half-full life and consequently, I’ve long been a champion of positivity, understanding that there is magic all around us, if we are able to see it.
My own life experience has taught me how a simple smile or a kind word, can have a ripple effect, making someone’s day brighter, happier. Science shows that negativity leads to more negativity, whilst positive thoughts and actions create positive solutions and an increase in happiness and well being. So I wonder, can positivity change the world?
Despite our screens of all sizes being flooded with negative news (our very definition of news is currently negative) the world is actually becoming a safer, fairer, more equal place. Today, less than 10% of the world lives in extreme poverty compared to 37% thirty years ago; life expectancy has more than doubled to 72 since 1900; 84% of adults worldwide can now read and write and contrary to popular belief, terrorist attacks have fallen from 17,000 in 2014 to less than 11,000 today.
In response, to the mountain of what we’ve come to call ‘news’ but which is actually ‘negative news’, we’ve seen the birth of a number of publications focussing instead on bringing us the good stuff. And we all need a dose of that. Positive News, the Happy Newspaper and Delayed Gratification, which has led the Slow Journalism movement – all focus on what’s good and positive in the world, taking time needed to evaluate, rather than create instant, binary, reductive and toxic or fear-based conclusions.
For the last 3 years, I have been working on a project called Generation Share. Initially, a sustainably produced coffee-table book taking readers on a journey of hope to meet the change-makers worldwide who are building a fairer, caring, Sharing Economy. Working with my dear friend and visual storyteller, Sophie Sheinwald, Generation Share demonstrates the power of positivity, the remarkable achievements of change-makers from all walks of life and their positive impact on their communities and society at large. The change-makers we feature have transformed the lives of people around them, from the slum-based girl in India who is educating slum girls and their mothers, to the entrepreneurs in the UK who have started a food sharing revolution. Generation Share demonstrates the power of change-making to create positive impact on the world.
And that is positive news indeed.
Generation Share will be published by Policy Press in June 2019 for Global Sharing Week. You can now pre-order your copy here.