HOLMBERG: Can every day be happiness day?

Posted at 1:26 AM, Mar 21, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – My 2012 New Year’s Resolution was to not curse. It really changed the way I expressed myself, even how I thought.

This New Year’s resolution was do as many positive stories as possible. Stories with  heart, or ones that make you laugh and marvel a bit at our fellow travelers in this fast-turning world.

There has long been a chant from readers and viewers that they want more positive stories. But we in the media haven’t generally listened  because, despite that chant, what drew the eyes of readers and viewers  has always been blood, sex, disaster, meanness, ugliness, destruction, hate, violence, crime, despair. “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Random murder trumped random kindness. Fear was stronger than love, at least when it came to ratings. And we prefer our bad news with a twist to make it pop. An airliner just can’t disappear in a vast sea with all souls on board.

I know this is an overgeneralization. We absolutely loved it when the airliner landed safely on the Hudson River, for example. And more and more, thanks to social media, a random act of kindness and sweetness can race across the land like a prairie fire, warming  our collective consciousness.

But something has changed. I’m really not sure what it is, but I can feel it.

There seems to be an honest hunger for better news. News with heart.

Maybe because we’ve been in a big, fat recession for 10 years now. Maybe because we’re saturated with EVERY aspect of really bad news stories, thanks to social media and 24-hour news cycles,

But it’s probably because we’ve lived it. Every one of us knows someone who has or had cancer, tried or succeeded at suicide, overdosed on drugs, lost their minds, suffered through a messy divorce, lost a child, did something incredibly stupid.

And way too many of us feel pretty shaky about our future.

Me, I’ve seen a lot of pain and devastation. Some of it of my own making.

This is my 29th year in the news business. I’ve covered hundreds of murders, fatal fires, deadly crashes. I’ve watched more than a few people gasp their last breaths. I know the sound of a breaking heart . (Your heart can actually hear it, like one tuning fork vibrating when another close by is struck. That’s why it hurts most when something happens to your child – your hearts are that closely linked to one another.)

The idea of watching pain, bloodshed and depravity  in a crime drama doesn’t compute for me anymore, at all. Watching actors yell at each other in  passionate portrayals of dysfunctional relationships just seems to be an unpleasant echo. Cheating, stealing and lying on tell-all shows? Already filled up, thank you very much.

Everywhere I go I see people struggling. And struggling to be happy. I’m amazed at the amount of self-medicating that’s going on – alcohol, pain pills, antidepressants, even obsessive exercising. It’s no accident that pot is staggering across the legality finish line all across this nation.

Happiness is hard to define, but we all know when we feel it. Many say it’s a conscious choice as opposed to as absence of pain and  unpleasantness.

But it is hard to choose happiness when you’re surrounded by unhappy things.

Therefore, my resolution.

I’ve been lucky enough to stick to it pretty closely, with a few exceptions.

So when we discussed International Happiness Day during our afternoon news meeting, everyone looked at me.

The first day of spring, a gloriously beautiful day after a unusually harsh winter, focusing on happiness. Thank you very much.

Watch the story here. And if you haven’t watched Lady E sing late at night during Emilio’s Friday jazz and blues jam, go. It’ll make you happy.