The bright side: 20 reasons to be cheerful

Bad debt, stomach bugs, flu, falling house prices, rising petrol prices, failing rail services and cold fronts coming in from Scandinavia: the nation's Moaning Minnie Tendency has had a field day recently. But now the fightback has begun. Here, on behalf of the Official Optimists' Party, we present 20 reasons to buck up and smile
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The Independent Online

1 The nights are drawing out again. Why, already there are 34 more minutes of daylight a day compared with 21 December, and in only 12 weeks' time, we'll put the clocks forward.

2 Flying is safer than it has ever been. Last year saw the lowest number of serious crashes (136) since 1963, when there were far fewer flights. Some 965 people died in crashes last year, a 25 per cent fall on 2006, and only 0.000043 per cent of the world's 2.2 billion passengers.

3 Call this winter? Daffodils are already blooming in Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Edinburgh and Lancashire, primroses flower in Sussex, crab apples in Nottinghamshire and wild strawberries in Wales.

4 You will not need to read the words "Iowa caucus" for another four years.

5 Three strikes due to disrupt services at seven airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh, have been called off. Around 1.3 million travellers will not now be incommoded.

6 The pensions "black hole" at Britain's FTSE 100 companies has disappeared. In January 2006 it was 75bn, a year ago it was 40bn, but now, thanks to a good 2007, they have a 15bn surplus.

7 England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 has guaranteed a whole summer free of tabloid hysteria and WAGs' antics.

8 The petition on the No 10 website calling for Jeremy Clarkson to be made prime minister has been signed by only 32,714 people. That is a mere 0.07434 per cent of the electorate.

9 Happy people are healthier than pessimists, says a study of 3,000 adults by University College, London. Upbeat folk have lower levels of cortisol, a "stress" hormone that can contribute to higher blood pressure, obesity and lowered immune function.

10 George Bush has only 380 more days in the White House.

11 British pigs lead the world. A Hampshire sow called Grumpy gave birth to 16 piglets on 31 December, bringing her total production for the year to 51. One of her litters numbered 18.

12 Not everyone is a self-serving, materialistic, celebrity wannabe. Reggie Damone, a McDonald's worker from Connecticut, so poorly paid that he receives food stamps, found a cheque for $185,000 in the street. Did he cash it? No, he took it to the bank and handed it in. His reward? Knowing he did the right thing. And $50.

13 That extra weight you put on over Christmas could be a life-saver. Two men were cooking in a Hartlepool home last week when a fire broke out. They grabbed a garment from the laundry basket, ran it under the tap, and used it as a fire blanket. Thus did Mrs Jenny Marsey's size 20 knickers save the day.

14 Conrad Black will have to show some humility at his appeal in March.

15 New York's murder rate has fallen to its lowest in recorded history. Up to 26 December, 484 people were murdered, less than a quarter of 1990's total of 2,245.

16 It's a leap year that's 24 hours' more fun, laughter and jollification than in the past three years.

17 Only three countries in the world have a lower rate of road deaths per million of the population: Holland, Sweden, and Norway. The UK is nearly three times safer than the US. All road casualties: 320,578 in 1996, down to 258,404 in 2006.

18 Britain has more Nobel Prize winners than any other country on Earth except the United States.

19 There are still 353 days until Christmas.

20 Hurricanes hardly hever happen.