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From the Director’s Desk, April 2021

Don't give up! Change your day by deliberately focusing on the positive.

Ever heard that quote: “I didn’t come this far to only come this far?” Those of us who have read one negative headline too many may feel a strong temptation to roll their eyes at this optimistic attitude – but have you ever thought that there may be a point to it? More than that, have you considered how you might change your life if you chose to think more positively?

I think that we in South Africa have become highly attuned to the bad stuff. We’re bombarded with news about how corrupt our government is, how our economy is hopeless, how our vaccination programme simply isn’t gaining traction. It’s almost as though we are primed to seek out the negative, so it’s not surprising when we find it. 

Looking for good news or experiences takes more effort, which is why it’s less appealing in the first place. I recently learned that Amazon is setting up headquarters in Cape Town; an incredible development that is bound to have a huge impact. I almost missed this story in the newspaper, though, because it wasn’t on the front page – most likely it had been pushed towards the back of the paper to make way for something more sensational. But imagine how good we would all feel if we checked our news feeds, and the first thing we saw was something that gave so much hope? Isn’t it worth digging beyond the obvious so that we can find that feeling?

Your day is probably full of other small examples of incidents that make you feel good. For me, it was renewing my drivers’ license; a chore I usually hate, but one which was made far more pleasant thanks to the great service I received.

If we all focus on these reasons to feel optimistic, no matter how small, we can change our outlook completely. The key to overcoming that feeling of drowning in bad news may be something as simple as finding a reason to believe, then focus on it intensely, deliberately, and with clear intent, until that reason drives out all the ‘noise’ of the negative. 

Pieter Niemand, MIWA National Director