With the world we live in, the sooner this is said, especially to people my age, the better:
In finance and in life, you won't find me making any guarantees. But one thing I can come very close to promising is, somehow, the world will go on.
I will avoid getting comfortable on my soapbox, but I would at least point out one thing. The bombardment of information we are subjected to in today’s hyper-connected world leads us to a very short-term focus. (Trust me, no one has ever accused me of being shortsighted, only nearsighted, but that’s why I wear contacts.)
This information at our fingertips is tailored to elicit an emotional response, a frequent one of which is fear. Fear is among the most powerful emotions we experience. It is a primal instinct, generating much stronger reactions than other emotions, including love and hate. Mix potent emotions with headlines decrying the many ways everything is awful in the world, and it is understandable why we lose sight of the big picture and suffer this short-term focus. We now have a reason to wake up every day to face the newest reason why we should all be upset. There are definitely real threats out there; but realize statistically we live in a safer world today than we did yesterday, despite all of the craziness.
If we look back over the grand scheme of things, there has always been something wrong in the world. That's not meant to come across as pessimistic or defeatist--it's just an observation. There are and have always been all sorts of corrupt, bad, evil, crazy, mean, and nasty people in the world. Look beyond the immediate problem of the day, and realize this unfortunately isn’t anything new. What is new is the aforementioned ease of access to information. Such access brings issues of the world into the spotlight and gives them a larger audience than may have been the case in the past.
This is not to say people should be ignorant of current events. That we are so informed about a plethora of topics is great. Someone has said, though, that my generation has been raised on the accumulation of information rather than the synthesis of information.
That speaks to the heart of the issue. We take in all of this information, have our panic attack, and move on. Don’t stop getting the news, but before succumbing to fears generated by headlines, take the time to synthesize the information critically. Take what is being said and think about how it affects you and your well-being. Form your own opinions on the matter.
Let me illustrate by getting financial for a moment.
- 2014: The Ruble went into free-fall.
- 2015: Greece defaulted on its tremendous debt.
- 2016: Brexit shocks the world.
Despite the talking heads and financial pundits (almost enthusiastically) sounding the end of the world as these happened, the global economy pushed forward. Everyone had his or her chance to panic. Eventually, the effects of these major events worked themselves out. Not without its bumps and bruises, but the sun continued to rise in the east and set in the west. The months ahead will no doubt surprise us some more as the year goes on, and there will be bumps and bruises along the way (possibly some big ones), but we can’t let fear drive our decisions.
The world can appear to be filled with doom and gloom, even more so when you go out of your way to focus only on doom and gloom news. Let’s not lose sight that there is still so much right in the world today. Look beyond the immediate problem of the day, and remember that we’ve faced problems before, some of which were quite nasty. We made it through then, and I can almost promise we will make it through now. What craziness will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure, but whatever it may be, somehow, the world will go on.