July 28, 2021

It Is Not All About Money

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In this article I talk about things beyond money and get a bit touchy feely.

Put Money into Perspective

As a financial planner, I focus heavily on making sure my clients are saving a sufficient amount of their gross income towards retirement whether retirement is 10 years away or 40 years away. In addition, I want to make sure my clients have sufficient emergency savings to cover everyday events, such as the car breaking down or the air conditioner needing to be replaced. Then of course, there is the second level of emergency savings  that needs to be in place to handle bigger life events, such as finding yourself suddenly unemployed or ill, and unable to work for a while. Naturally, the list just keeps going on from here.

Because of my profession, you might get the impression that all I think about is money and believe it is more important than all other things. Well, the answer is yes and no. I do think the most important thing you owe yourself and your family is to put the proper foundation in place to help secure your present and future financial well-being. I believe it is your responsibility to act as a steward of your money, oversee it, and manage it well. However, the other equally important thing in life is to enjoy it every day, to feel it, to live it, and experience it. Do not let all of the moments slip away with you being absent either mentally or physically from the world around you. I know, this all sounds like touchy feely stuff, and for the most part, it is. But the touchy feely stuff is what makes us human and we all really do need it, whether we want to admit it or not.

Laugh, Think, and Cry Every Day

Jimmy Valvano, or perhaps better known as Jimmy V, was a basketball player, coach, and broadcaster. He was a bigger than life character. As the head coach of North Carolina State University, he led his team to victory in the 1983 NCAA Basketball Tournament. In the ending of the final game to win the championship, one that is remembered as possibly the most famous in college basketball, North Carolina State won 54-52 on a buzzer-beating dunk, which came off an air ball from 30 feet out.Sunset2_dad_boy

In March of 1993, Jimmy V spoke at the first ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award), which were presented by ESPN. He was there to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award and while accepting the award, he announced the creation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. To this day, The V Foundation has funded over $130 million in cancer research grants. Jimmy V was very ill at the time he gave his speech as he himself had cancer (diagnosed in June 1992). In his speech, Jimmy V said, “there are three things we all should do every day. He said number one is to laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is to think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special” (from Wikipedia). I recommend you go to YouTube, search for Jimmy V’s speech, and watch it. I guarantee you will feel something while watching it.

Jimmy V died within a few months of giving that speech. When I read his story and watched the speech on YouTube, it really moved me. I started to think about it more, and I concluded that laughing, thinking, and crying every day are truly noble things to strive for and it will make me a better person if I do these things. Now to me crying does not mean that you literally have to cry every day, but rather it means to experience a serious emotion every day. It might be a tear in your eye when your little girl tells you she does not want you to go on that business trip today, or feeling empathy for someone you know or heard about who is going through a difficult time. When it comes to laughing, we all need to do more of that, and while doings so, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves and learn how not to take ourselves so seriously. When it comes to thinking, well we do that every day in our jobs of course, but I believe Jimmy V was probably referring to deeper thought.

An Inspiring Poem for Deeper Thought

A while back, I ran across the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (it means, “the things wanted or needed”). Max Erhmann was a lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana who lived from 1872 – 1945. This poem has an interesting history. At one time, many people thought this poem was written in the 17th century due to it having been included in a collection of devotional materials published around 1959 by a Baltimore church that was built in 1692. The copyright on the poem, which had been legally obtained by Max Erhmann, was later deemed by the courts to have been forfeited due to Erhmann allowing the poem to be distributed to soldiers during World War II without a copyright notice included. Because of that court decision, the poem is now considered to be in the public domain.

I found this poem to be inspirational. I keep a copy in my office and I read it occasionally to put myself into deeper thought, and to help stay grounded. I hope you get something out of this poem and at a minimum; it causes you to think more deeply about life and your place in the world.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

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