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Don't Worry, Be Happy

These days it seems there is so much to worry about. The media is replete with news of shootings, civil unrest and the global pandemic. Financially, there are concerns about inflation, taxes and deficits.

Life, with all its trials and uncertainty, provides ample opportunities to worry. If we aren’t careful, we could be consumed with worry – crowding out the ability for us to experience happiness.

Resolutions and Habits

We are three months into 2021 and there is a good chance that half of all the New Year’s resolutions have already failed. A long-term study by the University of Scranton found that less than 10% of resolutions become part of our lives1.

Intellectual Humility

Humility, or I should say the lack of humility, is a quality that is easy to identify in others, yet difficult to see in ourselves. Humility is a difficult quality to develop because it may threaten our sensitive egos. Ego is important; we all have one. Our very survival depends on what “I” do or what happens to “me”. In addition, a healthy ego gives us a sense of purpose, value and confidence.

The Lure of Envy

The color green is attributed to many positive things in life. Green is often used as a symbol of prosperity and even represents life itself. But not all green is good. Being green with envy is a characteristic we should avoid like the plague. As Charlie Munger put it, “There’s an old saying, ‘What good is envy? It’s the one sin you can’t have any fun at’. It’s 100% destructive.”1

A Persistent Forecast for 2021

Persistent (def) - continuing to exist or endure over a prolonged period

Wall Street forecasts lack persistence. Their shelf life may only be a few weeks or months at best. 2020 was a great example; once COVID hit, existing forecasts became worthless. And this happens just about every year – excuses abound as to why the “experts” got it wrong…again. 

Intentional Gratitude

Tis the season of gratitude. Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most underappreciated holidays, but most needed. Given the year we have endured it may be difficult to be naturally thankful. This year may require us to purposefully and intentionally seek to be grateful. 

Uncertainty, Outcomes & Our Decisions

The brain has a lot of gray matter but hates gray areas. As a planning machine, the brain needs information that is certain so it can figure out the best course of action. And when we don’t get certain information, we get agitated. Perhaps you have said, “I don’t care if the news is good or bad, just tell me what it is. Not knowing is the worst.”

The Allure of Pessimism

As we enter emotionally charged presidential campaigns, we should prepare ourselves for an onslaught of pessimism. Election talking points tend to be more slinging mud about the other candidate than a candidate’s outline for future prosperity.  Why do they focus so much on the negative?

The Virtue of Optimism

The current pandemic breeds a lot of uncertainty and fear.  The media actively participates spreading the fear. Headlines often accentuate the negative because that is what gets us to tune in. 

Pessimism and cynicism are weirdly addictive. While addictive, they can also be destructive – both mentally and financially. Most of us don’t seek them out, but when we encounter them, we just can’t turn away. They can consume our thoughts and affect our mood. It is easy to be a pessimist. It is more difficult, yet more virtuous, to see the good - even in bad times.

Preserving Your Mental Health

The challenges we face today are unique and significant. The Coronavirus has unleashed uncertainty, economic pain and shelter-in-place for much of the population. Any one of those alone can impact our mental health; the combination of all three can wreak havoc on us.