It’s hard not to feel a little depressed when you pick up the newspaper or switch on the TV news these days.

There seems to no end to the trouble in the world. From the latest antics in Washington to tensions with China to the Brexit mess to riots in France to the lack of progress on climate change, the problems just seem to keep piling up.

And then there are the markets. Rising interest rates and trade tensions have led to a sharp sell-off in stocks and a spike in bond prices over the last couple of months as investors worry about the prospect of a recession. We’ll go into all the numbers in detail during individual client meetings and our annual luncheons.

With all the troubles we’re bombarded with by the media every day, I think this is a good time to remember what’s going right in our world. Without burying our heads in the sand about the problems, there is much to be grateful for as the year comes to a close.

First, we should never lose sight of the fact that we live in what I consider to be the greatest country in the world. We are members of a peaceful, prosperous and free society set in a land of great natural riches and beauty. We truly are the envy of the world, and that’s why so many visitors flock here from every corner of the globe.

On a more day-to-day level, our economy remains strong with unemployment rates at historic lows. Economists are forecasting economic growth of just over 2% for 2018 with investment and exports picking up as we head into the new year.

As for the markets, down years are a natural part of market cycles, and they are why we are so careful about ensuring client portfolios are broadly diversified across asset classes and geographic regions.

PWL Research Director Raymond Kerzérho observes that this year’s downturn has been relatively mild so far. Canadian markets are down 6.5% and international markets are also in negative territory. But the U.S. market in Canadian dollar terms is actually up 7.5%, offsetting declines elsewhere.

On a global scale, there is much in the big picture to celebrate, despite all the dire headlines. According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers Report, the rate of extreme poverty in the world has fallen from 36% in 1990 to 9% in 2017, representing more than one billion people who have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty.

There has also been much progress in numerous other areas, including reducing maternal and child mortality, decreasing the prevalence of many diseases and increasing the availability of sanitation. The report notes that 50 million lives have been saved thanks to medical advances since 2000. (However, it also warns the fight against poverty and disease might be stalling, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.)

I’m mindful of the fact that this year will have brought its share of personal sorrow and hardship to many readers of this column. However, as we bring this year to a close, I believe it’s important to remember our blessings, share our good fortune with causes close to our heart and look forward to the new year with optimism.

And with that, I wish all of you all a happy, peaceful and healthy holiday season and a very prosperous 2019.