A reader recently asked me to compose a blog about the possibility of the world ending in 2015. Mindful of the wisdom of Harold Camping who predicted the worlds end at 6pm on 21 May 2011 (and then adjusted it to October when his apocalypse awkwardly failed to materialise), one might be inclined to be a little bit circumspect about those kind of high risk predictions. Especially now we are facing another imminent global meltdown some time in the next two minutes given the claims that Facebook has gone down has heralded the next end of the world as we know it.
However, it is stating the obvious to say that for many people, the end of their world as they know it has arrrived in the last few minutes, hours and days. Many, many people of Syria, Nigeria and the Sudan have seen their worlds end many times over recently in the shape of insurrection, warfare and mass murder. Those left behind will be facing new emotional, social and geographical landscapes daily. Their worlds-as-they-know-it are frequently ending.
For the rest of us who aren’t (yet) faced with those kind of catastrophes, the end of the-world-as-we-know-it is also happening; perhaps more discreetly, in a more nuanced fashion and perhaps with less obvious public impact. But end it does. Our engagements, our relationships, our actions all bring about the end of the world-as-we-know-it sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. Again, this much is obvious.
One question which arises from this is how do we face up to the ongoing end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it phenomenon? Too much change of this kind of order is surely too much for anyone to bear? Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California has the answer to dealing with the end of the world: be happy – today.
According to Sonya, happiness is the ability to…
1. Express gratitude
2. Cultivate optimism – visualise a future then write it down
3. Avoid obsessing over things / paying too much attention to what others are doing
4. Practice acts of kindness – more than you’re used to
5. Make time for friends – be supportive and loyal
6. Develop coping strategies – write down your feelings when youre upset – traumatic events make us stronger
7. Learn to forgive
8. Immerse yourself in activities and be open to new ones
9. Savour lifes joys – linger over rather than consume
10. Work towards meaningful goals
11. Practice religion and spirituality
So next time you’re aware of your world ending, just tick Sonya’s checklist off against your state of being. Your end-of-the-world-as-you-know-it might not all be doom and gloom. Either way, today is your preparation for tomorrow. In whatever guise it takes.