There’s nothing like a good news story to cheer us up – and right now, we need them like never before!
You’ve no doubt heard us say how important it is to be optimistic, particularly when times are tough. Research tells us that optimists typically enjoy better physical and mental health than pessimists; they’re more resilient and committed to working towards their goals in the face of adversity; they tend to manage their stress better; and the list goes on.
With that in mind, we’ve collated a selection of encouraging and inspiring news stories to improve your optimism about the world we live in (yes, even during all this crazy). If you want to have something different to talk about with colleagues, family or friends, that’s not COVID related, then this is for you.
- Students have had it tough of late, being separated from their peers, forced to sit through virtual class after virtual class, no doubt struggling to stay engaged. The results of a new study
are therefore interesting. Researchers have found that mindfulness exercises can deliver a significant boost to wellbeing, even when practised online. We already know mindfulness is effective for relieving symptoms of psychological suffering like anxiety, depression and stress, but this study showed that online mindfulness training can help students flourish. University students who practised mindfulness meditation 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for eight weeks, saw their psychological wellbeing improve. This enabled them to cultivate authenticity, which heightened their self-awareness and helped them align their actions with their values. Here’s hoping the rest of us can use mindfulness training to get us through this latest round of physical distancing and lockdowns.
- Athletes overcome unimaginable obstacles to make it to the Olympic arena, but it’s possible that the recent experiences of two Afghan Paralympians trumps them all. Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and track athlete Hossain Rasouli missed the start of the Tokyo Paralympic Games due to the Taliban takeover of their country. However, after being airlifted out of Kabul by the Royal Australian Air Force as part of a global operation, they eventually arrived in the host city – missing the opening ceremony (and one of Rasouli’s events) but making it in time for the remainder of the competition. It’s safe to say their journey will be one of the major Olympic moments remembered for years to come.
- Speaking of athletes, does anyone else love reading stories about people who suddenly realise they’re amazing at a particular sport? Take Australia’s Sinead Diver, who went for a run in her 30s and realised she was pretty good. Eleven years later, aged 44, she placed 10th in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. Then there’s Paralympic distance runner Jaryd Clifford, who 'accidentally’ qualified for the marathon when pacing a friend in a race – setting a new world record in the process. Who knows, maybe we’ve all got some undiscovered talents waiting to be unleashed!
- Now to the animal world. Beavers may not be the first creatures that spring to mind when you think of a British species – you might be more inclined to think of badgers, moles, rabbits and an assortment of other critters made famous in British literature. Yet these buck-toothed dam-builders, once stalwarts of the English countryside, were hunted to extinction in the 16th century. Now, thanks to conservation efforts, they’re going to be ‘cautiously’ reintroduced into the wild, having made a partial return to Devon (and even further afield, due to a number of ‘escapes’). It’s hoped that this new population of ‘nature’s engineers’ will help restore wetland habitats, curb climate impacts, such as increased flooding and encourage eco-tourism.
- Another win for the environment are scientists spruiking a ‘sweet strategy’ to fight the global plastic waste crisis – converting plastic into vanilla flavouring using genetically engineered bacteria. According to the team responsible for this ingenuity, this is the first example of a biological system being used to upcycle plastic waste into a valuable industrial chemical. It’s a multi-win situation: old plastic finds a new purpose; synthesised vanilla flavours from fossil fuels are reduced; plus, our cakes, ice cream and sweet treats remain in steady supply. Now that’s something we’re on board with.
- In a landmark ruling, the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales has found that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has a duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – the first time an Australian court has ordered a government to take meaningful action on climate change. The Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA) had taken the EPA to court over its climate change policy, arguing it hadn’t done enough to stop the pollution of the atmosphere from greenhouse gases. It’s hoped this decision will set a precedent for the state’s most polluting industries: paving the way for a cap on carbon and getting the state – and even the country – on track to net zero emissions well before 2050.
- It may have started as a sad story: a farmer from Guyra in northern New South Wales couldn’t attend his aunt’s funeral in Brisbane, due to COVID restrictions. Hoping to pay tribute in some other way, he tried his hand at ‘sheep art’: creating a giant heart in one of his fields with the help of his woolly friends. He simply poured grain onto the ground in the shape of a heart, then when the sheep gathered in the right spots to feed, used a drone to capture the effect. Check it out here.
Don’t forget to keep looking for good in the news. There’s plenty out there!
– The Coach Place Global
Image by Brett Jordan
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