Redressing the balance of bad news with Karmr

Women Savagely Murdered In Lake

The Worst Market Crisis for 60 Years

Housing Doom Continue

Got your attention? These are just a handful of alarming headlines I’ve seen today.  In fact, for every positive story presented in the media there are 17 negative stories, yet this presentation of positive to negative events doesn’t tally with reality. For every good thing that you experience in your day to day life, do you experience 17 horrendous things?  Probably not – you’d be a very unlucky person if you did!  In fact you probably had more positive interactions today than negative, but in that case why does the media present such a negatively biased view of our world – we all know the answer to that -  bad news sells.

Research has shown we have a “negativity-bias.” We’re more likely to remember bad things than good things, we recognise angry faces faster than happy faces and our brains continually scan the environment for threats.  Doesn’t sound good does it? But there’s a good reason for this . This negativity bias helped us to survive in harsh climates when we were evolving on the planes of the Serengeti, when there really were regular threats to our lives. For example, if we heard a rustling in the bushes it was better for us to jump to the conclusion that it was a sabre tooth tiger that could eat us alive rather that assume it was harmless bird we could enjoy for lunch. Our ancestors who assumed the worst lived to see another day and passed their anxious genes down to us, even if they were wrong nine times out of ten.  So in these threatening conditions, it paid to have this negativity bias.   Nowadays though, we live in a much safer environment but this threat system is still just as active, if not more active, thanks to the media.

Our brains have evolved in a way that assumes this bad news will impact us directly. For the main part of human history we lived in tribes of 30-500 people, so when we heard of a murder or an imment famine, then our stress response, quite rightly, kicked in to motivate us to avoid any potential threat.  Today however we don’t just read bad news from our local community which may actually impact us, but rather we come under a deluge of stressful information from all around the world which has no impact on us whatsover – but our body and mind still respond as if it does.  Throw in the internet and global social networking and our brains become inundated with stress evoking news 24/ 7, providing us with an overly overly distrustful and threatening view of the world  that impacts our mental and physical well-being.

Karmr app however helps redresses this balance.

Karmr is a free social networking app that lets you get in touch with the many kind acts and achievements that everyday people are experiencing all around the world moment by moment. For example, scrolling through Karmr on my way home today, I saw that Paulo from Brazil had just organised a surprise birthday bash for his gran’s 98yr old birthday, together with a photo of her smiling face.  I saw Johnny from Colorado helped his son win first prize in his school fancy dress competition dressed as a robot. I saw Yen from London kindly buy a homeless chap a cup of coffee that brought a certain warmth to my heart.  Reading and sharing this kind of information feels good and there’s science to suggest why.

Neuroscientists have found that performing kind acts, or even watching others, evokes pleasure activity in the same parts of the brain as sex, drugs and rock n’roll, which is why we feel that “warm glow”  when giving money to charity or watching Amelie take her neighbour’s gnome all round the world.  What’s more, as opposed to with sex drugs and rock n’roll, when the alcohol runs out, the pleasure soon fades, but with kind acts, we can relieve the pleasure over and over again.  Not only have scientists found that kind acts make us happier, they’ve also found it improves our health and even make us live longer.

However, this app isn’t just about making people feel good, it’s about encouaraging and sharing with others.  As rearchers from Harvard have found, happiness is contagious.  They investigated the happiness and relationshipis between more than 5,000 people and 50,000 relationship bonds over a period of 20 years and found that when one person became happy, there was a 25% increase in the chances of a friend, a mile away becoming happier. They even found that their happiness impacted people they didn’t even know. A friend of a friend of the happy person was 10% more likely to be happy and a friend of a friend of a friend of the happy person was 5.6% likely to be happier.  That’s three degrees of separation away! To put that in the context of money, they found having an extra $5,000 increased a person’s chances of becoming happier by only 2%.  In the words of the lead researcher “Someone you don’t know and have never met—the friend of a friend of a friend—can have a greater influence than hundreds of bills in your pocket.” Through the Karmr app we can connect with one another directly and share the millions of good things happening moment to moment around the world, putting us back in touch with the common good in humanity,  improving our own well-being, the well-being of others and ultimately combat the media bias to see the world as it really is.

Get involved with this global project to uncover the kindness, good and trust within our societies and download Karmr today.