David Byrne Gives Us ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’

David Byrne’s groundbreaking new project reminds us of the good in the world.

Depression, anxiety, and existential dread is on the rise – with good reason. Never before has the circulation of news been so rapid and accessible. We find out the Amazon’s burning, the icebergs are melting, Sudan is in crisis. We post on social media about it. We all watch each other’s stories. We all feel powerless; these issues are offered no solution other than recognition of their awfulness.

Enter David Byrne. Former frontman of The Talking Heads, he now dedicates his life to his non-profit organisation Arbutus. Their upcoming project Reasons to be Cheerful is an online magazine focused on solutions to problems in the world. The publication steers clear of feel-good fluff pieces, preferring evidence-based global stories about positive change. It is described as “part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world”. Byrne has this to say:

We’re telling stories that reveal that there are, in fact, a surprising number of reasons to feel cheerful — that provide a more optimistic and, we believe, more accurate depiction of the world. We hope to balance out some of the amplified negativity and show that things might not be as bad as we think. Stop by whenever you need a reminder.”

A sampling of the articles show an eclectic collection; bicycling initiatives in big cities, female scientist collectives, lawyers taking on climate change, and refugee education. What is so revolutionary about Reasons to be Cheerful is the honesty and depth with which the articles are written. Most ‘good news’ sources act like bad news does not exist, whereas Reasons to be Cheerful brings to light people and organisations who counteract bad things going on in the world. By acknowledging this, the reader is left with a sense of hope for the future – that things can get better, not that things are already perfect. And that makes me feel pretty cheerful.

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