In Shakespeare's re-imagining of the story of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra and the Roman general Mark Antony, the queen is in her palace waiting for a messenger from Rome. When he arrives, he delivers bad news: Antony is now married. Cleopatra is angered and strikes the man. "It is never good to bring bad news," she tells him, "Give to a gracious message a host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell themselves when they be felt."
In the modern age, the media does the opposite, repeating bad news in many forms and only occasionally reporting good news. This is doubly the case with media organisations, such as this newspaper, whose scope is global: the world is a big place and many challenging things occur across it.
Naturally there is a logic to bad news. It sells and often matters (in that order), since humans are more curious about the few bad things that occur than the everyday good ones. Bad news helps us navigate the world.
There was much to be concerned about across 2010, but there were some wonderful high points, individual moments of happiness that became collective; the sight of a Spanish team lifting the World Cup and the first Chilean miner to reach fresh air. These were real reasons to be cheerful, moments when strangers who had merely heard the stories smiled a bit wider and held their loved ones a bit closer.
2011 is likely to be the same, with climate change, economic challenges and regional wars almost certainly making the news. Through it all, though, there are always reasons to be cheerful. With that in mind, then, what is there to look forward to in the coming year? Unsurprisingly, the answer is plenty.
Start with Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, the young son of Qatar's ruler who chaired the country's bid, looked overwhelmed as he took to the stage to accept Fifa's decision. "You will be proud of us and you will be proud of the Middle East," he declared and the celebrating Qataris and Arabs confirmed it. What last year's World Cup did for the hosts South Africa, the Qataris are hoping 2022 will do for them.
This year, some of the detail of what the event will look like will emerge. There cannot be many occasions when a mix of design and technology plus the financial and political clout to make it happen transforms a country in such a short space of time. Watch as Qatar makes it happen.
Staying in the region, there may be more good news from Palestine. In the last four weeks, five Latin American countries have recognised Palestine as a state, panicking Israeli government officials into saying that the United States might even recognise a sovereign Palestine in 2011 if negotiations do not resume.
Political pressure can build surprisingly rapidly - and there is a chance that when the qualification tournament for Qatar's World Cup begins, the Palestinian players will be representing not only an adminstrative authority, but a nation. Reasons to be cheerful, if ever.
This coming year will also be an important one for Iraq, a country that has recently been too rarely blessed with good news. Last year started with the country's second parliamentary election since the US invasion and was dominated by post-election political wrangling. Having spent most of the year without a government, last month Nouri al Maliki was sworn in for his second term.
2010 saw the war that has defined a generation finally end for most American troops; a technical ending, to be sure, since tens of thousands of US soldiers remain in the country and the political and security situation is highly unstable, yet an ending still. A war that has lasted longer than America's operations in the Second World War and one's whose legacy, for the public, for politicians, for the military, will last for decades to come, finally closes.
With US troops all but gone and a new government in place, 2011 will be the year that - hopefully - makes Iraq.
America's other long war will, alas, probably yield more bad news than good this year, but the region in which it takes place will at least have a big sporting event to celebrate. In February, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will host the Cricket World Cup. There are few regions of the world with more devoted cricket fans than South Asia and if one of the host teams pulls off a spectacular performance and victory, there will be hundreds of millions of people celebrating in the spring.
As the Cricket World Cup finishes, on the other side of the world, the UK will be gearing up for the eyes of the world to descend on two of its young people. Prince William will marry his long-term girlfriend at Westminster Abbey in April, watched through tears, no doubt, by so many of the world's young women. Prince William still exudes much of the magic of his mother, Princess Diana, and it sometimes seems as if watchers outside the British Isles are more in love with the monarchy than its subjects.
The government of David Cameron, having spent so many months preaching austerity and restraint, will doubtless attempt to appropriate the occasion, perhaps hoping it will give a boost to the rankings as Britain's policy wonks follow in the footsteps of Bhutan and try to measure the happiness of the nation.
Happiness is a difficult quantity to measure, but with so much of our small daily happiness coming through technology - the connections and photos and jokes that appear via email, text and telephone - one of the least obvious reasons to be cheerful is the scheduled expansion of technology into new areas.
As smartphones become more ubiquitous, they will begin to solve problems we didn't realise could be solved. A small piece of software was pioneered in 2010 that instantly converts one printed language to another, opening up the possibility that foreign travel will be easier, breezier, safer and more accessible. Will it take away some of the joy of the unknown? Of course, but it will open up uncharted horizons: technology has already brought us couples who fall in love in cyberspace without ever meeting, whether on dating sites, online chat or alternative digital worlds. The time when a couple meet and fall in love without even speaking the same language at all is near at hand.
In the end, though, we find our happiness nearest to home, in the closeness of relationships and family, in the pleasures of food and love. Whatever news the media brings us, it is the truth of our relationships with those closest to us that matters.
Newspapers, as with Cleopatra's messenger, are often the bearers of bad news from far away; readers find their good news nearer to home, from the lips of friends and family. No doubt in the coming year there will be plenty of words written about difficult times in places far away. At least for now, and for 2011, this writer wishes you many more reasons to be cheerful nearer to home.
Faisal al Yafai is an award-winning journalist. He spent much of 2010 travelling on four continents as a writer and Churchill Fellow