“Yes to her eyes filled with pureness.”
Psychologist Maureen Gaffney says that the accumulating negativity in our day, e.g., a niggling worry, frustrating interaction or unwelcome bit of news is constantly being balanced by the flow of positivity, e.g., a reassuring thought, pleasant encounter or bit of good news. She says that since “bad is stronger than good”, we need a minimum of three positive experiences to one negative experience (3:1 ratio) just to stay well and manage life in an average way. But in fact we need five positive experiences to one negative experience (5:1 ratio) to trigger the upward spiral characteristic of flourishing lives, flourishing relationships and flourishing organisations.
Caroline Flack, British TV and radio presenter, was subjected to enormous public scrutiny before dying by suicide on 15 February 2020. In the six months before her death, it was reported that there were more negative stories than positive stories about her in the UK’s national newspapers. This included graphic references to an alleged assault (The Guardian). It is easy to imagine that the cumulative effect of negativity completely overwhelmed her and caused severe strain on her mental health and well-being. Although the Irish newspapers were apparently not as negative on her, it is worth reflecting on our role toward promoting the decline or flourishing of others.
The Goose Girl
I look to my mother’s version of ‘The Goose Girl’ of which the original by Stanley Royle is on display at the National Gallery of Ireland. It depicts a girl guiding her geese through a bluebell wood in springtime, and the flowers’ purple tones enhance the girl’s orange dress on which sunlight rests. An additional feature of this version is that the original girl is replaced by one of my sisters, who is different in her body, posture and face. It strikes me that this is a scene of flourishing – someone who is peaceful, calm and in good conscience. I hope we can all connect with positive company, surroundings and light so we can see through the eyes of a healthy, balanced perspective.
Oil painting by Siobhan Murphy.