Every Saturday I simultaneously look forward and dread reading the weekend paper with my first cup of morning java.

While catching up on news from around the globe, the dread comes from reading those tiny snippets of news, usually found in the Main Section and in the Financial Section of the paper. Sure the bigger stories may stand out, but the reality of life is more often than not found lurking in those snippets and in the stories “below the fold”.

For example, anyone still holding shares in coal stocks may not have been happy to learn that the Isaac Plains coking-mine in Australia was sold, 3 years ago, for $1.00; notwithstanding it was valued at $631 million U.S. (Bloomberg News). No news like old news I say!

Or, while Uber is being hit left and right with lawsuits and regulations here in North America, it is planning to invest $1 billion dollars in India (Press Trust of India). Is that Uber’s way of “protecting” against unfavourable Court decisions here? Pause for thought.

Then there was the revelation that La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has invested $6 million dollars of your money in a Montreal toy and game company. Okay, $6 million dollars may be a drop in the bucket vis-à-vis the $225 billion dollars it manages, and the company is based here, but did you know, this is my query?

Did you know that “maternity paranoia” is a new term coined by a male boss in the U.K? Used to describe a female architect who felt she was being pushed out of the job she had returned to after giving birth! However, the U.K. employment tribunal substantiated her “paranoia” by awarding her $500,000.00 for being edged out of her job (Daily Telegraph). That oft used quote by Joseph Heller, “You may be paranoid, but that does not mean you are wrong”, certainly applied in this instance.

Why is it that we are so consumed with bad news? What draws us to it, like car accidents and moths to a flame? Are we even wired to be truly happy? Perhaps one explanation is “Schadenfreude”, a German word defined as pleasure derived from the misfortune of others; or literally “harm-joy”. Sad, but true, pun intended.

Let’s face it, many people rejoice in the bad news of others. Just look at the headlines: Politicians, Corporate Leaders and Athletes…

– Bouchard is described in some circles as a ‘has been’, yet she is only 21.

– Trump is cheered on by those who think what he spouts.

– Clinton is chided for her wardrobe and wrinkles.

Why are we so spiteful? Why is “Happiness R Us” not our mantra?

Sure there are whole sections in libraries and bookstores devoted to finding happiness in love, in work, in self. But more often than not we are drawn to the unhappy, the disaster, the morbid. Why? I suppose we could hypothesize at length as to why we are so drawn, but perhaps it is as simple as recognizing that there is more bad in the world than good, and when good arrives, we look to shoot it down, often to make ourselves feel better.

Take a look at any video on You Tube or any online article on Huffington Post. At the bottom there are statistics on how many likes or dislikes a post has received. There are always dislikes, even for what I consider to be a good/heart warming/inspirational story, song, video, because some people are only happy when they are miserable.

At random, I went on You Tube and clicked on some recommended contenders for my viewing pleasure. Whether it was a Rick Mercer clip, the day someone brought home their baby Golden Retriever, or a Lion hugging a man who saved its life, there were always “thumbs down” votes. Even the Pope and Mother Theresa can’t escape negative votes! For fun, I Googled; “the nicest person in the world in 2015.” I was happy to see that leading the pack was a BBC story saying that Canadians are the nicest people in the world. I was happy to see this report, posted by CBC Radio, but of course the title immediately dampened the accolade by ending in a question, “but are we”? Why not ride the positive wave to inquire why we are the nicest and support it with stories and facts attesting to this truism instead of questioning its validity? Schadenfreude.

So test yourself. Spend a few minutes upon waking up tomorrow meditating on all you consider bad, sad, helpless and upsetting in your life. Write a list of what you thought about. Then forget about it all. Go about your day trying to see only the positive in everyone and everything around you. Before bed, write down those positive memories from your day to read the next morning and keep re-reading and adding to your positive list every day. You won’t have time to concentrate on the negative and you may even start to believe being happy isn’t so bad after all.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa & Happy Holidays!

Me Hammerschmid is a practicing Family Law Attorney since 1982 and Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates, 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290; and a founding and current member (past Secretary for 28 years) of the Family Law Association of Quebec. She can be reached at 514-846-1013 or hammerschmid@vif.ca. Inquiries treated confidentially.
A frequent guest inn CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD on Family Law; Me Hammerschmid is a monthly guest with Dr. Laurie Betito on CJAD’s Passion, on the last Thursday of each month.   © 2015 Linda Hammerschmid