I would like to share this week two stories that I heard from two friends and my reflections on what they told me.

The first story came from a friend who in conversation wondered whether he and his wife would now consider bringing children into this modern world if they did not have two already. Why did they say this? Their viewpoint had come from a list of current and ultimately overwhelming negative situations, that they feel are beyond their control. A global pandemic, climate change, petrol shortages, possibly another Christmas ruined, driver shortages, pigs being slaughtered and not entering the food chain, the shortage of CO2 etc.

I began thinking about what is important and what do I really need to live a relatively happy and satisfactory life. Is my life so very different to say five years ago? I think a lot of us thought that working 15 hour days was some sort of badge of honour. But several factors in the last few years have really changed my perspective and my feelings about what I really want and need in my life. I have learnt that appreciation for what you have got is more important and hence to stop hankering after what you haven’t got; it makes life so much less stressful and complicated. I don’t need to listen to the news avidly, just pick up on the headlines so you know what’s going on in the world and don’t drown in the negativity and hopelessness of constant bad news. Yes, life is different, but we have dealt with lockdowns and social distancing. We are amazing, resilient people and we will continue to adapt and overcome.

We are so lucky to live in a wonderful part of the world. We are able to walk and admire our beautiful countryside. We can choose to take a minute to watch the farmer going about his work, admire our waterways and the abundance of wildlife that depends upon them. It is our choice to view our world through positive or negative spectacles.

My second story I think epitomises the challenges and perhaps heightened levels of mistrust we have in our fellow human beings. This friend had what she considered a very important meeting last week. She felt very vulnerable as she was undertaking a live recording and she was well out of her comfort zone. She prepared thoroughly, practised her script and arrived early. The other person did not turn up and she was very annoyed, her annoyance then turned to anger when she learnt that the event had slipped their mind. Now, we are all human, we all make mistakes and we also never know what is going on in other people’s worlds, especially as many of our lives have become ever more chaotic recently. Many of us would accept the apology and reschedule but events of the last two years have made this friend look at life very differently. She has re-evaluated what is important to her in life and she no longer tolerates people that don’t show mutual respect and understanding.

I found this fascinating, and I think both stories show a current and worrying level of mistrust in our fellow human beings on a local and global scale. This is very sad but I feel it is a manifestation of the uncertain world we currently live in. But we must not lose sight of the good in people and our surroundings. We must continue to nurture and develop relationships and see the beauty that is all around us. Without positivity and hope and investment in our communities and our own wellbeing we may find ourselves on a path to isolation, fear and feelings of hopelessness. So, keep looking for those nuggets of light and beauty, they are still plentiful and all around us.