To Counter Frustration: Focus on Learning

Every experience is a “teachable moment.” Sometimes, it’s Mother Nature teaching the human race.

Can we make what we have into a better life?
  1. We are not “masters of the universe.” That’s a lovely conceit, but it’s just that. There’s a random numbers generator dealing the cards, and you have to play the hand you’re given, not the one you want.
  2. Excessive risk-taking leaves families and businesses incredibly vulnerable when “things go wrong.” And they do go wrong, sometimes like now, in extreme.
    1. Live within your means. Positive cash flow. These aren’t options. You don’t need the expensive knicknacks that won’t mean anything to anyone once you die. And maybe not to you next year.
    2. Credit cards are an expensive luxury. So are bank loans. You don’t need them, with the exception of a reasonable mortgage.
  3. “Real” friends who will support one another during times of crisis are essential. “Real” friendships add to your sense of well-being, your energy, your willingness to face the day. Others use, drain and depress.

We need to accept the following:

  1. Covid-19 is one of a series of coronaviruses that have hit humans. MERS and SARS are still around, and there’s no reason to believe that Covid-19 will leave anytime soon. Even if there’s a vaccine, not everyone will accept it. And we don’t know if there is a viable vaccine. And then, what about the next coronavirus?
  2. If not a coronavirus, there will be something else — earthquake, hurricane, another mortgage meltdown, a new version of Ebola, something. That’s not something to get emotional about. It’s life, as a combination of Mother Nature and humans have shaped it.

During the late 1990s Internet bubble, there was a conceit that the Internet would “eliminate business cycles” by making information instantly available. Supply chains would automatically rebalance for changes in the market. Yeah, right.

Where we can focus and achieve:

  1. Visualizing the kind of life that is both practical and would really make us happy. Where do you find joy? (If you don’t know what would make you happy, and there have been times in my life when I didn’t, you really need to think about this.) What’s so bad about working from home? You miss the traffic?
  2. Visualizing how we have to change our behavior and goals to achieve that life.
  3. Make those changes happen.
  4. Sort out who really matters to you. Givers gain. What have you done for them lately?
  5. What can you do to protect your life — to the extent possible — from the next external trauma?

Focus forward, rather than being depressed by the mess around us. Viktor Frankl argued that “purpose” is essential to survival in times of crises. That was his road to surviving a concentration camp; maybe it helps with Covid-19 as well. There’s no data available that questions this, and there is some wonder about why some people survive serious illness and others don’t.

My father once said that real success is being able to find one stranger each day and make them laugh. Imagine your world if everyone you knew did that.

Oddly, as I was writing this, a friend posted this poem by Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, written in the early 1500s:

The Things that Cause a Happy Life

My friend, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain,
The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;

The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule nor governance;
Without disease the healthy life;
The household of continuance;

The mean diet, no dainty fare;
True wisdom joined with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress;

The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Content thyself with thine estate,
Neither wish death, nor fear his might.

Five hundred years ago and only slightly dated. Nor does it contradict the charge that Givers Gain.

Even more uncanny, an article surfaced on Pocket today about Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah”, that fits with the theme of this post:

When Cohen died on November 7, 2016, at the age of 82, renewed interest in “Hallelujah” vaulted Cohen's version of the song onto the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Despite its decades of pop culture ubiquity, it took more than 30 years and Cohen's passing for “Hallelujah”—the very essence of which is about finding beauty amid immense sadness and resolving to move forward—to officially become a hit song.  [emphasis added]

If you like this blog, please comment and also let others know. I like writing it, but really have no way to know how many people read it — and the more, the merrier.


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