As 2023 draws to a close, my thoughts wander back to the same age-old questions I revisit every year’s end: What have I done, really? What impact have I made? How have I contributed to making our World a better place to be? Who have I become? Where am I going? And my single answer is still the same: I do not know for sure, but I have (once again) worked myself beyond what I thought possible, and I have helped some Clients achieve and exceed their goals, making breakthroughs in situations that once seemed insurmountable.


Personally I have learned to reframe health scares, fatigue and imposter syndrome as opportunities for building mental and emotional fortitute. And despite yet another year of World conflict, violence, uncertainty, war and environmental degradation (that would discourage any warm-bodied soul to entertain any hope for humankind) I remain Defiantly Optimistic: The more challenging my situation, the more motivated I feel to push through whatever it is I feel holding me back. The more discouraged I feel by the fragile and wilting state of our World, the more angry I am at the injustices perpetrated by people driven by greed, prejudice and ill will, the more inspired I feel by the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Baháʼu’lláh of the Baháʼí Faith:


“I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love.”


Defiant Optimism is daring to believe that Peace of the World is an ideal that we can attain! It means working steadily with sincerity and commitment to let our hearts be consumed with the strenuous desire to care for ourselves and serve others with the belief that every kind thought, word and action will make a positive difference. It means drawing boundaries to protect us, taking a stand for what we believe and living in the moment.


And why shouldn’t I be defiantly optimistic? Despite an extraordinarily tough year, I am still here, able-bodied and among exceptionally gifted, inspirational and spirited company ~ clients, colleagues, family and friends ~ being who we are destined to be and doing what we feel destined to do. I am alive and I am happy.


May 2024 be a Year of Transformation ~ that we respond to conflict, violence, injustice and war with positive Thoughts, Prayers (in whatever form they may arise) and Action. With Empathy and Compassion, may we commit ourselves to learn and understand the emotions, experiences, perspectives and aspirations of others. And, whenever possible (despite the daily barrage of bad news), take action to help others and ourselves continue evolving in ways that embody who we want to be, which, in turn, will enable us to continue doing the work most precious to us.

~ Andrew Shaffer @ InnerCulture ~ 31 December 2023