The good news is, there is good news. The bad news is, very few know about it.
Newspapers, news stations, and endless digital posts flash across the screens of our mobile devices bombarding us with messages of terror, ethical lapses, sadness and grief. Tucked away amidst this news will be the occasional human nature story, but rarely are these stories given the top billing they deserve. Why? Well, first, we have an attraction to bad news. Since the beginning of time, man has thrived on the fight or flight mentality and we are keenly wired to be ready to run in order to survive. With as many as 17 bad stories to every good story, the cycle of disparity keeps our minds acute for more – and when we find it we share it. But what if we could begin to change this phenomenon? What if we could turn up the volume on the positive, pile on the good, disrupt the imbalance of bad things to good things and build a sense of hope vs. a sense of depression?
At this year’s World Economic Forum, Arianna Huffington announced the launch of “What’s Working,” a new Huffington Post initiative that will showcase just that — what’s working. The goal is to highlight the news, organizations and people that are positively changing our lives and communities for the better, developing solutions for seemingly inextricable problems, and creating a better world around us.
There are more of these remarkable stories than most consumers of news could possibly imagine. Our firm is proud to support organizations that are transforming lives daily. Take Eli, a driven and determined young woman who volunteers with the Trevor Project to provide life-affirming programs for LGBTQ youth in crisis. Or Tony, who created Harlem Grown by turning an abandoned yard into a thriving garden where school children grow a wide variety of vegetables used to prepare healthy foods in their schools. Or Ryan, a veteran who knows firsthand how hard life can be when vets return home, and volunteers with Team Rubicon as a result.
These inspiring individuals and organizations are engaged in what is often referred to as “cause work,” which ranks as the third most important factor for millennials when applying for a job. A recent study by the American Press Institute reports that nearly 70 percent of millennials read “the news” daily, and many check news sources several times every day. How can we expect them to stay positive about the potential for their own “cause work” and impact on the world if they don’t have examples to follow or believe anyone will notice?
Young people are not the only ones who want to hear good news. In fact, research shows that good news travels faster than bad news on social networks and more positive articles are more likely to be shared with friends, family and colleagues. Researchers point out that this is partially due to the perception that we want to present over social media. As the New York Times writes, “Debbie Downer is apparently no match for Positive Polly,” when it comes to sharing news. No one wants to be seen as the constant deliverer of bad news.
By highlighting the stories of businesses and individuals creating trust in society and impacting our communities, we can help scale successful solutions and optimize their effect. Simultaneously, an influx of good news can help change our habit of being more drawn to the bad and we can develop a more positive perspective on our communities and the world, which we will then pass on to others. We know we cannot ignore the difficult and painful news, but we believe sharing news of positivity, change, innovation and transformation is inspiring, and necessary. In a world where we can report instantly on happenings around the globe, we agree with the Huffington Post — we should report on what’s working to better understand what actually works.