Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Being Happy In These Troubled Times

Smile as though your life is good---because it is!

“It is not losses and misfortunes
that take the joy from our lives,
it is fear.”

A.C. Benson, a 19th century writer made that observation–and it’s one that needs to be repeated often, as we get caught up in gloomy predictions about many things.

When Franklin Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, our country was experiencing an economic crisis.  There was tremendous distrust of business and government as well as anger that things had been allowed to get so bad. During President Roosevelt’s inaugural address machine guns were mounted on buildings in case of a riot.  A riot didn’t occur, but a great speech did–followed by action that supported his thoughts.  Here is an excerpt:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; and the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

And yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

 Timeless words! They don’t suggest there is nothing to worry about. But they do suggest that we can’t stand still and be paralysed–we have to move forward and make wise decisions. That same concept applies to our work lives, relationships, health, finances and anything else about which we are so fearful we sometimes feel paralysed and unable to make things better.

In 1967 I wanted to reflect something joyful in Christmas cards–in spite of increasingly bad news about events around the world. With all the fervor of a young woman wanting to make a positive statement, I wrote, “May you have the audacity to be happy in these troubled times!” 

I think nowadays I would change it a bit, to just say, “May we have the wisdom to be happy.”

April 2nd, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work | 5 comments


  1. I needed this! Thanks so much, Tina. P.

    Comment by P.A.H. | April 3, 2009

  2. Tina says: Thank YOU, Phyllis, for reading and commenting. As I write I often picture you and the crew there. T.

    Comment by TLR | April 3, 2009

  3. You’d probably get an argument from some folks about whether FDR was good for this country or not, but my Dad, who lived through it, said if someone had better options they should have mentioned them at the time.

    I had never read the speech and didn’t know the exact words of that quote. Interesting.

    Comment by Wiseacre | April 3, 2009

  4. I had never read the whole FDR speech but found it after looking at this. Very interesting! I came to this site to look for church security information but ended up reading everything about life and work…..for four hours! You have an excellent website!
    Mark M.
    Risen Savior Lutheran School
    Orlando, FL

    Comment by M.A.M. | April 6, 2009

  5. Tina says: Thank you, Mark, for your comment. I emailed you as well, and sent the church security material you requested. Thanks for reading!

    Comment by TLR | April 6, 2009

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