Stress and the News

“I do not take a single newspaper nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”                         – Thomas Jefferson

For many, including myself, the search for happiness is elusive.  Of late I have been drawn to identify influences in my “retirement” life that adversely affect my state of happiness and I’m wondering if others lives are disrupted by my disruptors.  Take a look.

1.  I come home from whatever it is my wife and I are doing and turn on fox news.  It doesn’t take long for me to start saying things to the television that I wouldn’t repeat here.  I also review periodically the “mainstream” media as a way to find “balance” in the news. Again my blood pressure starts to rise when I see the spin, spin, spin.  solution #1 Follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice.

2.  I have a see food diet.  I see food – I eat it.  I look at myself in a suit and I think, I don’t look too bad, then I look at myself in the mirror when I step out of the shower and I think, you have no discipline. Solution #2:  Stop the late night snacks.

3.  I worry about the future.  Will we ever be rid of our dysfunctional government? Will my investments be safe?  Will my children and grandchildren be obedient and happy?  Solution #3:  Play more golf.  Go fishing more often.  Act on things I can control and stop thinking about things I cannot control.  Hike more often.  Read positive messages every day.

Victory or Defeat

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win great triumphs, even checkered by failure  than to join the ranks of those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”                                                       – Teddy Roosevelt

My father was a sheep rancher who lived in the day when his home on the range was a “motor home”  propelled by an unusual team.  The quarter horse, Snip, was dependable and trustworthy.  The other half of the team was a big eared mule who was a master at working within self-imposed limits on his personal achievement.  The round-top, canvas covered wagon was father’s home.  A second small, compact wagon (commissary) contained extra supplies including hay and grain for the team, water, etc. and was connected to the back of the wagon with a small chain.  When it was time to move the team pulled them both.

Although indolent, father gave the mule credit for being smart but the animal used his intelligence to cultivate his laziness.

Whenever the camp was moved and the road became steep the mule would cease to pull.  Somehow Blackie knew the load could be lightened if father unhooked the commissary.  The frustrating ritual was for father to unhook the commissary, move the wagon beyond the “obstacle,” come back and get the commissary, hook it to the wagon again and move on.  This pattern persisted until one day father tricked the mule.  When the mule stopped as the train approached a steep incline in the road, father set the brake, wrapped the reins around the handle and stepped down from the wagon.  He walked to the back of the wagon, rattled the chain that connected the commissary and then climbed back into his seat.  He released the brake and slapped the reins on the backs of the animals and up the hill they went.  The mule never knew what hit him.

Father’s message to his family came not through preaching but through his example.  Within the true story of the mule lay a message that inspired me to move beyond the natural instinct to settle for mediocrity.

Happiness comes when, at the end of the day, we can say we reached a little higher, ran a little faster, smiled a little brighter and helped someone else along the way and that we did it by rising above the desire to please self. Perhaps we just need someone to, on occasion, rattle our chain.

 

Smile

“Wear a smile and have friends; wear a frown and have wrinkles”     George Elliott

Imagine living in a world without smiles.  My spirits would not be lifted when my wife smiles at me every morning.  I would never again see the most disarming smile in the world, that of my son Troy Tait.  Life would turn from joy to sadness, pleasure to pain, hope to fear.  There is no medicine to lift the soul like that of a smile from a friend…or a stranger.  Nat King Cole changed the world with the lyrics of the immortal song “Smile.”  These lines are special:

“Light up your face with gladness.  Hide every trace of sadness.  Although a tear ay be ever so near.  That’s the time you must keep on trying.  Smile, what’s the use of crying.  You’ll find life is still worth while, if you’ll just smile.”

Change the world today.  SMILE!

 

 

The Disastrous National Debt

“It is incumbent on every government to pay its own debt as it goes.  A principle which, if acted on would save one-half of the wars of the world.”      Thomas Jefferson

I have always been impressed with the perennial positive attitude and constant smile of my brother-in-law.  Never argumentative or negative but having the ability to state his position politically or personally in a positive clear manner.  I wondered what it was about him that kept him this way and a recent conversation revealed his secret.  We were discussing money matters and I asked him how much of a mortgage he had on his home, which would probably appraise close to a million dollars.  His response:  Mortgage?  I’ve never owed anybody anything.  Even the building where I held my dental practice, I’ve owned free and clear of debt.”  The secret to his smile is out in the open.

Never in the history of this great nation have we been saddled with a more dysfunctional government comprised of politicians who are void of moral courage.  Our nation is nearing bankruptcy yet nothing is done to reign in spending.  Approaching 18 trillion dollars, the national debt threatens to destroy the dollar and has already cast a pall across the country in the form of a stagnant economy.  Do our elected officials run their personal finances the same way they run the government?  I think not. The American smile has been wiped away by the American debt and very few have the moral courage to right the sinking ship.  The nation’s financial mismanagement is a sickness that, just like the body that has ingested spoiled food, will stimulate the vomit reflex.  Crash of the financial market is inevitable without imposing of massive taxes on the people which will have the effect of destroying an already weakened economic recovery.

Get ready for the wild ride.