NOW that the Christmas season is upon us, is it too much to hope for a break from the unrelenting air of misery that has hung over the country like that dust cloud over the Pig Pen character in the Peanuts comic strip?

That's not to suggest that we as a nation Ostrich-like stick our collective heads in the sand and pretend everything is hunky-dory. That is clearly not the case – particularly for the tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs in the past 12 months.

But there is an argument that we are, in true Irish form, overly focusing on the negative, and in the process, actually making the situation much, much worse.

We in the media – print and broadcast – have to hold our hands up and accept our share of the blame. We are all, without exception, overly focused on the negative.

The contrast with our counterparts across the Irish Sea is quite remarkable. Britain is in dire straits economically – maybe not quite as bad as Ireland but pretty bad all the same – yet the economic crisis receives only a fraction of the coverage over there that it does here.

And it's not just the extent of the coverage that's over the top. It only took a few months of economic hard times before the term "the lost generation" started to appear in newspapers and on current affairs programmes. Of course, it is terrible that young people are being forced to move abroad to find work, but surely it is ridiculously premature to start referring to them as the "lost generation".

The negativity – to use a phrase that will forever be associated in my mind with Frank Stapleton – in online debates about the recession is quite staggering. Contributors queuing up to lambast our "corrupt" and "basket case" country and promising that they will never return from their new utopia in London/Australia/the US/Canada/Italy.

Anger is the new black and perspective is as rare as a good idea from Sepp Blather, sorry, Blatter. And perspective is something that is badly needed. We lost the plot in the good times (shopping expeditions to New York, queues for some designer bag or other and 5,000sq ft homes with 15 bathrooms) but now we're losing the plot during difficult times.

Almost overnight, in our own minds, we've gone from being the country the rest of the world is envying to being a state without a future. The truth, as it did during the boom years, lies somewhere between those two extremes.

Yes, things are bad but they have been worse. Unemployment is high (and it is soul destroying for those affected), but it's not going to reach the catastrophic levels that it did in the 1980s. Tax revenues have plummeted but they are still at the levels they were at in 2003 when life seemed pretty good, so now we have to adjust our spending accordingly.

And, unlike in the 1980s when it took a decade of dithering before action was taken, real decisions are being taken to address the public finances.

It is extraordinary that both the government and the main opposition parties accept the need for €4bn in cutbacks. There are very few other countries in Europe where that has happened or could happen.

It is also extraordinary that the public service unions – having already swallowed the pension levy – were willing to accept that more than €1bn savings were required in the public sector pay bill.

Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses Organisation was right to be angry and frustrated at some of the bile being directed at the participants in the talks in government buildings last week.

Of course there were problems with the unpaid leave of absence proposal, but the unions were actually being responsible in trying to come up with solutions to reduce the pay bill. And what was so wrong about Brian Cowen trying to seek an agreed deal rather than unilaterally impose a pay cut? Listening to some of the hysterical reaction last week, it would seem some people won't be happy unless every public servant is left on the minimum wage.

Throwing rocks and stones to use Doran's phrase won't help anybody. Yes, we made a terrible mess of things. Reform of the public service should have happened years ago. The government let spending get out of control and helped fuel a property bubble. There was a total failure of regulation. And so on and so on.

But we've now spent a year, as Tiger Woods might put it, "going ghetto": pointing the finger, banging our fists on the table, telling Marian, Joe and every RTE interviewer with a microphone how "angry" we are. It's time to move on or, as Roy Keane might say, "get over it".

There have been signs in recent weeks that the worst of the recession is bottoming out (unemployment levels and the tax take have stabilised, consumer spending is starting to lift). It is of course going to be a long, difficult road back. But it's going to be an even longer road if we insist on focusing on the downside all the time.

There was a wonderful moment in the France v Ireland game in Stade de France when, with Ireland unbelievably winning 1-0, the Irish fans started to chant as one 'Yes, we can, Yes, we can'. Oh, for a bit of that Obama-style positivity back on Irish soil.