I’m not a Christian. I was, however, listening to a sermon last week in The Chapel of St Faith, St Paul’s Cathedral, by The Right Reverend Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London. It was the Annual Service of Dedication for The Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor to which I had been invited by a knighted schoolfriend. Sir Gazza to his mates.

During her address the bishop quoted the words above, from St David’s final message to his followers before expiring on 1st March 589. This advice was given in a religious context but through a secular lens I was struck by its contemporary resonance.

Admittedly, it’s hard to be joyful in 2023. I recently attended the Byline Festival, immersed in the honesty and openness that truly independent journalism can bestow. The theme, ‘Is this a 1945 moment?’, reflects the depressing state of play in Britain and the need for significant reform in our institutions, our electoral system, and our media. For starters.

But optimism is critical to re-creating the country in which we want to live. If joyless, we will dismiss what is possible, and overlook where we have agency. As activist and film maker Ashish Ghadiali emphasised at Byline, “we are not the system, we are individuals and can help”.

In terms of keeping the faith, again no deities are invoked but belief in collaborators and in shared endeavours is fundamental to fully functioning personal and professional relationships. Commitment generates energy that drives momentum that delivers progress.

Success may not be immediate. Faith in our fellow humans, however (well, some of them), can help overcome the failures that often represent important steps towards a desired outcome.

The subtle notion of focusing on little things was, it strikes me, incredibly enlightened for the sixth century AD, given the overwhelming challenges posed by life’s big things. These days, small acts of kindness are acknowledged as punching above their weight. At a macro level also the world changes materially when lots of its inhabitants make minor adjustments, not simply when a few trailblazers make grand gestures, however inspirational.

On a day-to-day basis, genuine succour can be found in ticking a few boxes marked achievable, in managing the manageable. To the question, ‘how to eat an elephant?’ comes the answer ‘one bite at a time’.

Overall, I like St David’s Middle Age wisdom, albeit with an irreligious spin. Being joyful about the positives, maintaining faith in each other and embracing incremental development by doing the little things are helpful guidelines for navigating tough times.

And, truth bomb, my Ancestry DNA results indicated 22% Welsh ethnicity so, rugby affiliation apart, I can partially lay claim to Dewi Sant too.