“I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved. I will be a happy and joyful being.” This prayer might initially appear Pollyanna-ish, implying that we should pretend everything is great even when it’s terrible.

That isn’t what it’s about, however. It’s about being happy no matter our situation, and regardless of what faces us.

This week, I have been contemplating news coverage — and not in a good way. The old adage if it bleeds, it leads has become more prevalent in our news, and thus our lives, than ever before. There’s some irony there as this column is being published in a newspaper! I applaud the East Oregonian for making an effort to report good stories too.

Few news outlets do, and most articles we encounter tell us that things have never been as dire as they are right now. Disease! Conflict! Famine! Drought! We are surrounded by media designed to make us afraid and engender feelings of outrage and anger. Our fight or flight instincts are constantly being activated. It’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that only by identifying our problems can we address them, but because of our emphasis on the bad news, millions, if not billions, of people live every day in fear. The Baha’i Faith tells us that’s no way to live. And after this past year, I don’t think that’s news to anyone.

Young people are even deciding not to have children because they see it as irresponsible to bring new humans into such a terrible world. Imagine if our ancestors decided the same thing, instead of realizing that we heal our planet by raising the next generation to be better than ourselves.

Given this daily barrage of bad news, it can be hard to take a step back and question whether things are actually as awful as they may seem. Is the world genuinely a worse place than it was 50, or a 150, years ago? With a little research, it becomes instantly clear that by every measure, worldwide we have less war, less poverty, better health, higher education, and more equality than at any other time in history.

At last, good news!

Even were the world, in fact, worse off now than ever before, it’s imperative to find happiness where we stand, through good times and bad — and what’s more, to help those around us do the same. Otherwise, we have no hope of continuing to make the world better.

To carry out this great task, we must ask ourselves, as the Baha’i Faith asks us: If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?

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Sarah Haug is a member of the Baha’i Faith and has called Pendleton home since 2002. You can find her most days walking on the riverwalk with her husband, Dan.

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