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Lately I’ve caught myself becoming attracted to following the stock market, and the daily market fluctuations, like they have some actual bearing on my day-to-day life. And you know what? It’s just not a healthy thing to do.  For one thing it’s not like I am a day-trader or something, any meager investments we have are what can only be described as conservative and long-term.  So why then am I attracted to this form of mental torture?   

As I drove home from work yesterday I reflected on the past 3 years of constant bad financial and employment news, and thought to myself, what would have happened if there had been a second Great Depression?  There are a couple of things I know for sure would have occurred: We wouldn’t still be living where we are, my daughter would be in a school probably in Bend or Portland, Oregon, and I would be doing something else.  Something else… that actually kind of has a nice ring to it.  Something else, something different, something new!  Wow, that might have been interesting, or maybe not.  For several years I was doing a fair bit of business in Italy, it started when the Lira was still the currency of the day, when the dollar had good buying power. And slowly but surely I have been forced to change my business purchasing practices and go to other far flung locales for my goods due to the demise of the Dollar against the Euro.  And as I watched this transition from the Lira to the Euro occur, I also saw the standard of living in Italy decline markedly, BUT, what I did not see decline was their innate sense of how-to-live, and how to live well, even with reduced means.  The Italians know how to do it, and I think they as a people are a good example for all of us.  That focus on family and community IS the linchpin of great societies, it makes for a great people. Leaving behind the sometimes awful “realities” of the World’s marketplaces, and separating oneself from the highly impersonal world of high finance, seams to be a great way to attain a truly higher standard of living.   In the USA we hear from an early age how important success is, so important in fact that your very being is intrinsically tied to how successful you become.  But what is success really?  Monetary success does bring with it perks of many sorts, professional success brings perks of another sort, personal success brings with it yet another set of rewards.  What if there is a perfect balance between all of these things?  Oh yeah, we used to call it “middle-class”.   One thing I know for sure, the majority of extremely wealthy people I have known in my life have been one thing: miserable.  The majority of professionally successful people I have known have been somewhat bitter about things they should have done, rather than focus so intently on their career. And as for those who I have known who have had great inner-personal success, they have tended to be VERY selfish and lonely.   Balance, that’s what it’s all about, balance.  I asked a good old family friend, Dr. Joe Henderson (the last living actual disciple of Dr. Carl Gustav Jung) what he attributed his long and illustrious career to, and he responded, “ALL things in moderation, even the bad things, and, have a good Osteopath”.  he turned 100 years old a week later.  Joe had a great life, a great career, but had been plagued by his wife’s mental instability for many years, and a manic depressive child who later committed suicide, yet he always had a smile and good advice for all who knew him.  He knew how to live. So I might look at the stock market ticker still from time to time, and I may obsess on the minutiae of my finances, but I will try to do everything in moderation from here on in. Buona vita e fortuna a tutti !    Posted on June 10, 2010

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