Bad news and full glasses of beer

Michael Apichella ANL-151123-125029001
Michael Apichella ANL-151123-125029001
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Before reading about another NHS funding cut or some extremist atrocity someplace, let me give you some advice: Don’t.

I was once addicted to reading such gloomy stuff. The result? Half-empty glasses of beer. Everywhere I looked.

Then one day I began boycotting bad news. Suddenly, my cup runneth over. And darned if I didn’t feel cheerful, even when I had cause to be gloomy.

Gradually, my “brimming-cup- days” began stretching into months. Then years. First my wife noticed. Then my kids. Even casual acquaintances asked why I seemed to be so chipper. I’d simply shrug.

I now know it’s all because I stopped dwelling on the terrible news in the media and focused on the good stuff. And as I say, I feel better than ever.

I’m not nuts. According to a study, the “glass-half-empty” syndrome harms your immune system. Professor Suzanne Segerstrom, University of Kentucky, published the research. The scholarship proves that when people feel pessimistic, they’re less able to fight off viruses.

That explains why I’ve had only a handful of sick days in nearly 30 years. (Okay, after a fish sandwich and a pint of warm beer in a dodgy eatery about 10 years ago, I was off work for several days).

But Professor Segerstrom’s study isn’t the only one of its kind. James E. Maddux, a professor of psychology at George Mason University, said the findings are “another example of the power of optimism, of what used to be called positive-thinking back in the 1950s.”

Put simply, start looking for media reports highlighting the sunny-side of the street and feel better. Such news is always there.

The Bury Free Press reported recently that a residents’ petition has succeeded in getting a replacement bus service to cover reductions introduced in January on Bury St Edmunds’ Breeze 2 route.

It also published the great news that County Upper School was presented with the STEM Secondary School of the Year accolade for the South of England. That’s not all.

West Suffolk Hospital staff have been recognised for their dedication, compassion and commitment at an awards ceremony. Shining Lights 2017 celebrated examples of innovation, teamwork, leadership and outstanding contribution across West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Even in bad news there’s always something inspirational. Consider Austrin Samuel Maitland McKenna, also known as “Sam”, from Wetheringsett. He died after being involved in a car collision. But in a statement issued on behalf of his family, they thanked local people for their support and kind messages at a “devastating time”, and described Mr McKenna as a “unique soul” who “lived life to the full.” There’s more good news like this, but you get my point.

Focusing on praiseworthy news is like relaxing in a hot bubble bath with your favourite music playing. Dr Hilary Tindle, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Research on Health Care, has several theories why this may be. One is that “happier or more positive, hopeful people tend to live healthier.”

I believe optimistic people who do get sick recover more quickly than pessimistic people. But don’t take it from an old romantic like me. Boycott bad news. Begin substituting a steady diet of good news for a month and see if you don’t begin feeling better.

Sure, plenty bad stuff happens in our area. But on balance, more good than bad goes on if only you look for it. So ignore the rot in the media and enjoy finding out about the many great things happening in and around our region. That way you’ll probably be adding years of healthy living to your life.

Full glass of beer anyone?