Now is the worst of times and the best of times. As we optimistically contemplate a new millennium we are also filled with trepidation for the unknown.

As I write, the media is filled with Nostradamus'imminent end of the world prophecies. So. what are we to do? Well, as Dorothy Parker counsels: "Guns aren't lawful, Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live."
Some of us do better than others because of the choices made. And this is the core of our being: agency. We have the ability to determine our mental attitudes and we have the power to be curious, to grow, to change and to choose those foundational and timeless principles which will bring us peace, happiness and even moments of sublime joy.
Our gurus and sages can only suggest ways forward, but it is for each of us to create those mental, physical and spiritual environments which will sustain us with peace and not destroy us with addictive behaviours which will only bring remorse and destruction.

Happiness is hard to define. Cynics might see it as merely the absence of negatives rather than having a positive state of mind. For me, happiness comes from having an appropriate attitude toward life and of turning perceived purposelessnes, boredom and even pain into something celebrational. Possessions not included, happy people have attitudes which set them apart from unhappy people.

In my experience, much of our suffering is needless and self-inflicted. What is sadder still is that we keep on repeating the downward spiral of destructive desires, thoughts, actions and consequences which destroy us and our relationships. In all of this I have to keep reminding my imperfect self of the following three truths:

   1) Life comes with non-optional opposition in all things, plus difficulty. We must mature to the point where we are not unduly crushed by accidents and difficulties. We are not here to be comfortable, but to grow through experience and the getting of wisdom. Life is the place for gaining experience and some of our most valuable ones are simultaneously the most difficult.

   2) Life is uncertain. If we are to enjoy agency there's no other way! We walk by faith and we can't tell whether we will live or die from moment to moment, or if those whom we love will go or be taken from us. Will the world hurtle from its axis? Will our investments yield a fat return? Who can tell for sure? Happy people recognise these sorts of facts and go on anyway.

   3) Life includes unfairness and injustice. Although we embrace truths, life will not always be fair. Neither should we expect it to always be so in some childish way. We are sometimes controlled by forces we cannot master, such as the wind and the sea, or the domino effect of someone else's volition. Good things happen to bad people and vice versa.

The honest are defrauded and felons walk free to enjoys their spoils. This is not only the way things are, it is the way things will be. We must grow up and get used to it while doing the best we can, for this is the source our individual perfection as we serve others and find ourselves in such service, as well as in our quiet moments. Both are critical to our capacity for joyfulness.

Happy people recognise all this and more. They do not take offence nor self-destuct and other-destruct through rage and the refusal to forgive. In confronting such personal and global realities they still live full lives, plan, work and achieve what is possible, and live powerfully, whatever their sphere of influence. In developing an understanding heart we serve and are best served. It will never be otherwise and the time to start the process is now so that we are prepared and are not needlessly fearful.


Author's Bio: 

Emil-Paul Dopson is a trainer and motivational speaker. His Website is