My parents lived through the Great Depression, and it changed them forever. They were certainly never wasteful. They hated and avoided debt. They made prudent purchases. And they were generous with others in distress.

I am neither an economist nor a prophet, but I am not impressed by the people crying "Wolf!" today and predicting another economic disaster comparable to the one my mother and father survived. Maybe it's just my natural bent toward optimism, but I am bullish on the future of our country.

True enough, times right now are challenging for all of us and downright cruel to some of us. But we'll be looking back in a few months to a few years — and telling our children and grandchildren what we learned "back then."

Maybe you can tell them how you ...

  • Wised up to the money you were wasting and the harm you were doing to your health — and quit smoking.
  • Beat your addiction to credit cards and started living within your means.
  • Took your lunch to work three days a week and saved over $150 a month.
  • Learned to use the public library not just for checking out books but for borrowing (not buying or renting!) movies and educational programs.
  • Began eliminating cable channels, text-message services, or telephone land lines you weren't using enough to justify.
  • Got serious about eliminating debt from your life and quit living by the assumption that you had the right to everything advertisers offered.
  • Started saving for their college education or first house purchase and opened the savings account you are giving them now.
  • Began living the generosity they are marveling at now.
  • We need to quit waiting for someone to fix things!

I'm sure you are getting the picture by now. Taking the long view of things, you need to see what is happening today from the perspective of where you want to be in five or ten years. I need to quit whining about how tough things are and figure out ways to cope with unpleasant realities. All of us need to quit waiting for someone to fix things and begin doing the things that will make a difference.

The choice in life is not between having problems and avoiding them. It is between growing from them and being destroyed by them.

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 NRS).