It’s been hard for me to write about finance, trading, or the markets lately. Not because they haven’t been wildly interesting (and a little frightening), but because they seem a little less important right now. I am still paying very much attention to the markets, but I don’t feel I have anything to say about the situation that many other people aren’t already saying. Then, yesterday, it finally hit me. I can write about the other kinds of dividends I am pursuing. Since my brother and I started this website, it has been my plan to include articles about what I am calling “Life Dividends.” Because there is so much more to having a rich life than money. So, here’s the first one.
What I Can Share
Yesterday morning I wrote a rant. I ranted about panic buying, toilet paper, and everything else we have all been mocking people for while secretly wondering if they are the smart ones. I finished my rant and I promptly decided it had served the only purpose it would ever have. I got those words out of myself. Once they were out, I deleted the rant.
It wasn’t helpful to anyone else. That got me to start thinking what can I do that is helpful to others? And I started thinking about all the different responses people have been having to the COVID 19 pandemic. Many of us who have not been overwhelmed by fear have turned to sarcasm, cynicism, and mockery. (Looking at you Buzzfeed and Twitter.) Not helpful. Others of us have been so filled with anxiety and fear that all rational decision making seems to have gone out the window. Not helpful, but understandable.
I realized what I can share is my calm. Everyone has situations for which they are best suited. This COVID 19 situation we all find ourselves in doesn’t raise my blood pressure too much. That’s not to say I haven’t been worried from time to time. It is scary. It’s new, and big, and we haven’t ever seen anything quite like this. But in general, I’ve been calm.
For those of us who can be calm, now is the time to shine brightly. Reach out (not physically) to someone you know who might be struggling a little more than you are. Offer them whatever help you can. Share what you can with the people you know who might be struggling in this time of chaos. That way it will more quickly stop being chaos.
This Is An Opportunity
Our best selves are not taking pictures of others panic buying and posting it on social media for others to laugh at and feel better about themselves. God help me, I clicked on and read that Buzzfeed article. It made me feel superior for just a moment. Then, I felt sad. I was sad for those who feel that much fear, and I felt guilty for finding humor in that fear.
We have a chance right now to make the world better. This pandemic is an opportunity to break down barriers, not erect them. I know of a man who instead of hoarding, brought a backpack full of toilet paper to church to give to those who weren’t able to buy what they needed.
I know we are being physically isolated from each other more and more. Actual quarantine might be just around the corner, but in the mean time let’s keep an eye on each other. Check in on those around you. Be smart about it, don’t put yourself at risk, but try and take care of those around you as you take care of yourself.
Over the weekend my wife and I watched A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. Earlier in the year we had watched the documentary Wont You Be My Neighbor as well. In both movies I was struck by the incredible amount of calm and understanding that Mr Rogers could bring to every situation. I think it’s something we can all try to emulate. After watching the movie this weekend, I wondered: What Would Mr Rogers Do?
Here is what I came up with. Please add to my list in the comments if you feel I left something out.
- Listen. The images that stick with me the most from both of these movies is that of Mr Rogers down on one knee listening to whatever it is a child needed to say.
- Acknowledge. Mr Rogers always took the time to acknowledge the feelings of whomever he was talking to. He didn’t minimize them, he didn’t try to explain them away. He said, “You are feeling that, and that’s OK.”
- Educate. Mr Rogers was an educator. He taught children about everything so that they could understand it more and fear it less.
- Accept. Mr Rogers accepted everyone where they were at. He helped them where they were at. He didn’t try to make anyone move faster in their process than they were comfortable with.
So this is my first Life Dividend to help us all create a life that pays dividends in every sense of the word. Be calm, have patience, listen to each other, acknowledge each other, and let’s all help each other as we are able.
If you have anxiety about everything that’s going on in the world (and we all do to some extent), I’d be happy to hear about it. I don’t have answers, but I’ll listen. Write me an email from our contact page. Or leave a comment if you don’t mind being public about it. I bet someone else might have a good encouragement for you as well.