A strong mind is everything. You need a strong mind to get rich. You also need a strong mind to win at sports and get ahead in many aspects of life.
One of the goals of achieving financial independence is financial security. We want to feel secure financially so we ironically don't have to think about money so much. As a personal finance writer, however, this is both my blessing and my curse. No matter how wealthy I get, I can't escape the topic of money.
When you're spending time with friends or taking care of your kids, the last thing you want to feel is financial dread. Did I make the right investment? Am I going to get laid off during the next round? Will I be able to make my next house, car, credit card, and student loan payment on time? Dread.
The desire for financial security is why I've in the past suggested creating financial buffers for your financial buffers. By doing so, if one money soldier goes down, you still have an army to prop you up.
Get Your Mind Right And The Rest Will Follow
As an aging tennis player who still regularly competes, I believe getting your mind right is at least 60% of the reason why you will end up winning your match. If you are not mentally sharp, it doesn't matter how talented you are, you will not win. The same goes for most competitive events.
Therefore, if you want to get your mind right about finances, you need to spend as much time as possible learning about finances. You can get your MBA, read personal finance sites, listen to personal finance podcasts, watch finance videos, and get firsthand experience working in finance. You can also invest your hard-earned capital and learn from your mistakes.
The more you listen and do, generally, the more financially secure you will feel. Experience goes a long way because there are fewer surprises. You've seen the movies before and have action plans.
However, even if you do all these things, you still might not feel as secure as you'd like. It's not good enough to be rich. You must feel rich as well. And a large part about feeling rich is about feeling secure.
After more than 22 years of saving and investing, I think I am financially secure. But am I really? Some readers have given me some doubt.
I revealed in my post on perpetual failure, that I continue to save more than 50% of my investment income and online income. Having a family creates multiple unknown variables. Saving money feels good. However, if I was really financially secure, I would be spending a much greater percentage of my income.
Getting That Tough Love
To improve, sometimes it's not enough to recognize your faults and share them with the world. Sometimes it's necessary to receive some tough love by others.
Here's a comment from a reader named Cody,
“Squirrels save nuts for winter. They just don’t save 1,000 tons of nuts. Enough is enough. If it isn’t, move to a nice cheap place with territorial taxation where the sun still shines, it still rains, and they actually have food to eat. You’re getting neurotic.”
Cody's comment is a great reminder that maybe I should just suck it up. To “be a man” and not worry about the things I worry about. It is probably also better to reveal setbacks in private.
The thing is, I'm not sure how I can improve if I don't share my failures and ask for help. And as someone who wants to help others feel more financially secure, I feel bad about ignoring readers or telling them to “suck it up” if they've experienced a financial setback. As a parent, my nature is to try and empathize and explain why things are the way they are.
But Cody's comment is a good reminder to me that nobody really cares about your problems because everybody has their own problems to deal with. I've asked Cody to share some tips on how he was able to feel so financially secure, but he has not responded.
Therefore, instead of consistently saving and investing, Cody has encouraged me to live a more YOLO lifestyle. Cody has also helped me realize that we have one last financial buffer: a strong financial mind.
Your Mind Is Your Last Source Of Financial Security
Let's say someone robs you of 90% of your net worth. You also lose your job thanks to a recession. For good measure, you also break your leg, which you need to do your job. Essentially, you are screwed.
But are you?
When I used to play a ton of no-limit Texas Hold'em, there would be a time where I'd get some bad beats (losing even though the odds were in my favor). But instead of thinking I was doomed, I would always tell myself, “A chip and a chair is all I need to come back.” And with this attitude, I sometimes did.
If all goes to hell, we still have our minds. Our mind is our last source of financial security because we can always find ways to make money. Here's an example.
On October 20, 2021, I wrote a post entitled, Health And Fitness Stocks: The Last Reopening Trade. The post explained why I was getting bullish on gym stocks. Life Time Group ended up reporting solid 3Q results. Then Peloton reported abysmal results, partially caused by more of its customers heading into gyms.
In other words, the thesis was correct, and old-school fitness stocks rallied by 15%+. Although I only invested about $50,000 in names like LTH and MED, I made enough to pay for food and housing for one month. Of course, if I don't cash in, the paper gains could go away the next day.
Originally, I was thinking that I had wasted my time spending three hours writing the post, researching the space, and recording a podcast (iTunes) about using data to make winning investments. If I was going to spend all this time analyzing a stock, I should just get a job as a portfolio manager and really get paid.
But what I realized was that MAYBE I have enough financial acumen to save our family from financial calamity, if it were to ever occur. And if this is true, then worrying so much about the future is unnecessary. There's always another money-making investment out there.
Do You Believe In Your Financial Acumen?
One of the most important things investors must do is stay humble. Never confuse brains with a bull market. As soon as you start thinking you're hot stuff, you tend to lose because your risk parameters get out of whack.
I have lost money plenty of times before. I will continue to lose money in the future because I plan to keep putting my capital at risk for potentially greater returns. That's the nature of investing.
I like to think that if all went to hell, I could still connect the dots and come up with a a new investment idea that would re-inflate our lifeboat. I'll just tell my children that daddy can't take them to the zoo one morning because he needs to find the next great investment.
But this is unlikely. To believe any of us can consistently come up with investment ideas that will outperform the market is delusional. Even most investment pros, who spend Monday – Sunday thinking about great investment ideas can't regularly outperform passive index funds.
Being a good investor may not be good enough.
Financial Security With The Entrepreneurial Mind
Therefore, in addition to developing investing acumen, perhaps it's even more important to develop entrepreneurial acumen. In other words, when you've lost your job and your net worth is down in the dumps, will you have the entrepreneurial mind to make money on your own?
With entrepreneurship, there is a much stronger correlation with effort and reward (money). For example, there are plenty of people making money online in the personal finance world who have no financial background. However, because they have a strong entrepreneurial mind, they know how to market, grow a brand, and convince the search engines they've got a great product.
With good investing acumen, the correlation with investing success is not as strong. You might know all there is to know about analyzing a cash flow statement. However, if you can't properly predict what others are thinking, you could still lose.
Be careful about getting lulled into only making money from a day job. Your day job could one day go away. Work on building a strong entrepreneurial mind and a strong investing mind.
A Strong Mind Will Make You Feel Rich
The older I get, the more I realize a strong mind is vital for financial security. Our minds tend to stay in peak performance longer than our bodies. As a result, it makes sense to nourish our minds as much as possible. This means getting good sleep, setting aside time everyday to think, and to seek therapy when we feel mentally ill.
Be risk-averse with your health! Protect it at all costs.
You can tell who has a weak mind if you spend any time on social media. If you have a weak mind, you tend to get agitated more easily. You start getting into useless online arguments because someone doesn't believe what you believe.
If you have a strong mind, you're more open to seeing the other side. There is no way of knowing everything. Therefore, the logical thing to do is learn from others who've experienced what you might one day experience. In other words, a strong mind is also an open mind.
Let's keep on learning and sharing our experiences. The stronger we can grow our minds, the more financially secure we will feel. Even if you receive tough love, embrace it so you can try and get stronger. It's nice to know that if all else fails, we can always fight our way back.
Readers, do you think a strong mind is our ultimate source for financial security? If we have both investing and entrepreneurial acumen, what is there to worry about financially?
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43 thoughts on “The Ultimate Source Of Financial Security: Your Strong Mind”
I’m tired of having to stress about how I am going to get to the Dr.. who’s going to help me after surgery, will I have money for the extra bills,” how can I “, is what I think of everyday.. I’m tired of being a burden I just want security and a house to call mine…
Spot on. Once you hit a certain point, money is largely a mental game.
The entrepreneurial mind or the ability to hustle is a great thing. If all goes wrong at least you can rely on that.
Hi Sam, as a fellow aging tennis player I will humbly suggest you just enjoy the ride. When I was young I was so concerned about winning a match but some health issues later I realized I am just happy playing tennis and occasionally competing and taking some risks with my shots. Sometimes against a easy opponent, I let myself be down by a break or set and than try to claw my way back.
I will become FI in 6 months and excited and dreading about it. I have worked my whole life and not having a job is alien to me. I have a 3 yr emergency acc but I am still nervous. I keep going back to my maths to make sure my plan is solid to reassure my brain. I also have started writing down my journey from immigrant to FI and reading that when I am down to tell myself how far I have gotten. I also help out at food banks and see others who are worse than me. Count your blessings and your mind will follow. Hope my experiences help. Thank you
I love to compete, win or lose. Do you have a USTA rating?
It’s been really fun competing at the 5.0 level, but it’s getting harder as I get more injured. 4.5 is the happy medium for me.
Great post Sam. I share the same thoughts about money as you do. No matter how much I have, I’m not content. I have enough to retire and live comfortably and although I feel more secure, I still have the same fears, insecurities and anxiety over money I did when I had much less.
Like you, I hated thinking this way. I tried many different ways to change this mindset but always end up in the same place. I’ve concluded the following:
1. This is your authentic you. This is your personality and what makes you a responsible, humble and dependable person.
2. This is what drives you. I’ve tried what Cody suggested and striving to be content. While it gives you a sense of peace, it won’t last. You will always revert back to your natural ways. I even tried the Dailai Lama approach of being content, focus less on material things etc. That only lasted for a little while and I always revert back.
3. Accumulating wealth is our passion. This is who we are. We love the adrenaline rush of seeing our wealth increase. We feel bad when it does the opposite. What’s good about you (based on what you’ve posted) is you’re accumulating for the right reasons. Not to flaunt or stroke your ego but to provide for your family and enjoy doing it at the same time.
Anyway, my point is…embrace your approach to money. Don’t change. This is who you are and what makes you awesome.
Thanks Lawrence. Will do. I am very focused on taking things easier in 2022 as the economy opens up and COVID becomes more manageable.
I made a promise to work hard and earn money for my family during COVID. Might as well due to more restrictions, less travel etc. https://www.financialsamurai.com/the-best-time-to-retire-may-be-under-a-democratic-president/
Let’s see if 2022 will really be the time to relax and spend more! Best of luck to you too.
“Knowledge is treasure no thief can steal.” –old proverb
Took me a long time to discover what my IQ was (very high) and that it meant I could generally become good at most things that I wanted to do. But the catch is that you have to want to do them and you have to identify what those things might be, and there are not enough hours in your linear existence to pursue all of them successfully (in a way that leads to financial success or great renown–personally, I’d rather have the money).
Took me longer to realize there are at least 26 different human aptitudes (an aptitude is something where you have both talent and an interest–and it can be rather tragic when someone has one without the other). And no one has all of them, probably no one sane, anyway.
Then there is the old saying: “If you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?”
The reason seems to me to be that highly intelligent people tend to have many aptitudes, and are either unable to focus on just a few, or reserve their greatest focus for ones that they may like, but which are not remunerative.
For example, my first wife made me join her in Mensa. We were actually over qualified in that we were also eligible for some of the other “gifted clubs” that wouldn’t admit most members of Mensa). I joined one later, just to see what it was about, but quit after a year. In attending the Mensa events I found it interesting that it was not unlike the way another former member, Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, depicted it. Here were people who were ofttimes qualified to discuss anything from Sumerian myth to advanced propulsion technologies for interplanetary travel. Yet most of them worked as clerks, bookkeepers, salesmen, kennel keepers, or any number of other things that are perfectly honorable, but which don’t tend to make people wealthy. In some cases, I believe it might have been just so they could have more time to think and learn.
My first job out of college was as an Air Force officer commanding ICBMs in an underground facility in the Midwest. I chose that assignment because I thought it would give me lots of time on the job to read (ha) but I was also ambitious enough to enroll in and get the free masters degree that was one of the perks for accepting this unpopular duty. In retrospect, I would have done a lot better financially had I gone straight for private enterprise (I remember contemplating that when I was sitting at a console on my 25th birthday). But smart people do stupid things and being a genius in many aptitudes does not mean you are not positively stupid in some. On the other hand, it also means you never need worry overmuch about making a good living or missing a meal. Financial security is a whole different thing, however, as the goalposts keep shifting, both in life and in your head.
Even when you suspect you might be there, you start to worry about things like the economy collapsing, the government going bankrupt, etc. Things like this are why some people buy a place in the country to dig a bunker in and fill it with guns and canned goods–but that way lies craziness.
Regardless, the type of person most likely to become very wealthy will tend to be clever but less than genius level, and/or have only a few aptitudes, perhaps 3 or 4, or even less, leaving them free to focus on those and, with the right combination in the right environment, become wealthy.
Providing they have a strong mind.
Oh man, I love this comment and the quotes. Amazing and very insightful! I might have to try one of those IQ tests.
But I assume you are rich now!
I had to debate about answering that. What is rich?
My first wife (whom I’ll freely admit was smarter than me) developed a serious personality disorder (or multiple mental disorders) and knocked me down to negatives about twenty years back. I then paid a lot in child support for a long period of time to keep her from enforcing her right to primary physical custody–thankfully, the sheriff chose not to get involved in this mess–and I spent a decade or so as a single parent, protecting them from her, and remarrying only after the kids were grown and the ex had passed on.
Fortunately, I’ve always made good money in IT (self-taught, imagine that), had some real luck with a couple of real estate deals, and, once I started treating it like a strategy game (which almost certainly is one of my aptitudes) have done really well as an investor (although having an MBA might have helped).
From what I recall of your discussions on your own finances, I think we are roughly in the same area, although our kids are all grown and graduated from college here (being deluged with grandchildren now), I have vested a substantial pension, and will someday inherit a few million from various members of the older generation (which I am in zero hurry to receive as I hope they all become centenarians–plus, on a much lesser note, as I am executor for these folks, it’s probably going to be a major annoyance dealing with that aspect of it).
Thank you Sam for this post. I can’t explain how apt is the timing. I am getting cornered in life and the primary tool for breaking the walls is a strong mind and positive outlook. This post helped me to lift my mind and spirit both
You’re welcome Siddharth. Best of luck to you. Worst case scenarios rarely are as bad as we think they are.
This post resonates with me. People would ask if I was worried about losing my job both during the 2008 recession and during the 2020 Covid dip. My reply to them was always:
If you’re good at what you do, you won’t be out of work for very long.
There were still still people building houses during the housing crisis, and tons of Covid layoffs have started their own businesses to get by. You are only ever held back by your own talent and tenacity.
“If you’re good at what you do, you won’t be out of work for very long.” Bingo!
I remember a senior colleague tell me this as well.
Make yourself indispensable at work so that they would be a fool to ever let you.
Thank you, Sam. You not only teach great investing info, but you also teach a humble maturity in learning from constructive (& sometimes not so constructive) criticism. I’ve always appreciated your high EQ!
God bless you!
Thanks Tracey! Bless you too.
Tough love still stings. But I’m pretty used to it since I was a kid. I’ll try to look at the positive of every situation.
Now I wonder whether my non-Toughlove approach to my children will end up hurting them. What an unknown adventure and mystery that awaits!
It’s hard man. I always answer the question, “what would you do with an extra $100k in your wallet right now?” with “I’ll quit my job”, assuming the question is what I would do with an *extra* $100k in my life.
However, guess what happens when I actually do have that extra $100k added to my net worth? Continue working. There’s always this “nirvana” that I think will make me mentally strong enough to actually quit my job but it just never seemed to have happened. Not yet, anyway.
Mindset is hard because future expectations and what happens in reality are two separate and apart things.
Personal finance is PERSONAL so whatever works for you while still allowing you to enjoy life is what matters. Life circumstances are different for everyone. A person making $30K a year and living off $15,000 is much different than someone making $500K and living off $250K.
As far as being mentally strong, I believe this is the biggest reason most successful people have achieved their goals. When I first discovered this blog I had a negative net worth. In the 5 years since then, my net worth is 10X what it was five years ago.
This blog has changed my mindset by showing examples of how money can be made as long as we take action. For instance, stock investments aren’t only for those who I had considered “rich” so I started purchasing my first stock at the age of 36. While I was making $70K a year as an auditor, there was no reason I couldn’t drive for Uber, start an Etsy shop, bake wedding cakes, arrange wedding flowers, model, start an Airbnb, and become an enrollment agent for government programs.
I have a perfect example of how not being mentally strong can hold you back financially. My husband had been a handyman for years and I would come with him on the weekends to help him on his projects which was actually fun times for me since I had volunteered on the Habitat for Humanity electrical crew for 6 years and helped a friend build her house every weekend for two years before meeting my husband.
I finally had a serious conversation with my husband that we needed to buy a fixer upper after he had single handedly completed a reno for an investor who paid $23K for a property and ended up selling for $150K. My husband was paid $15k for his labor.
The only thing that separated us from those investors was making the decision to purchase a fixer upper. Both of us had the skills and knowledge to fix and flip so we should have taken the leap years ago. We finally did purchase a fixer in 2020 but it was disappointing that we didn’t do it earlier since we had been looking at properties since 2012.
Please note that we did have enough money for a down payment in 2012; negative net worth was due to an underwater primary home. To keep improving on our income, we will be taking an insurance adjuster course in a couple of days where we will each be making six figure incomes. Once the insurance work picks up, I know that it will be difficult to walk away from a 17 year career where I’m now am audit manager, but this new career will allow us to retire in two years instead of waiting for another 10 years for my pension to kick in.
As Sam has mentioned so many times on this blog, as long as you are taking steps in the right direction, you will eventually get to where you want to be.
“I had a negative net worth. In the 5 years since then, my net worth is 10X what it was five years ago.”
I’m confused by this wording, because I hope you don’t mean your present net worth is even more negative. Because that would be terrible.
Great example! Thanks for sharing. And in retrospect, 2020 was a great year to buy real estate!
It is SO true how having a strong mind is crucial to so many things including finances and succeeding. Reading this post made me think of a book I started reading to my son recently The Secret Words. The main character starts off wanting to do many things and failing because she tells herself “I can’t do it” without even trying. Then a scenario arrives when needs to save her sister from getting her, which she does. And afterwards she realizes she was able to do so because her mind said “I can do this!” and then she took action.
It’s very easy to let doubt cloud our judgement or prevent us from even trying to succeed or reach goals. I find myself fighting with doubt and frequently feeling like I can never do enough each day. But I recently started to try and flip my mindset by focusing more on the things I have been able finish each day, even the small things, to help instill a can-do mindset instead of can’t-do mindset.
Thanks for reminding me that I wrote a post called: Do You Have The Money Mindset To Get Rich?
I always like the advice of the stoics to think about and strive to accept the bad outcomes our futures may hold. It lets us make rational decisions. If we won’t even consider a possibility, how can we balance how much effort we’re spending to avoid it?
If we hit exceptionally hard times, maybe we’d have to sell the house and move into a small apartment. Perhaps the children would have to go to an inferior school system, and couldn’t participate in extracurricular programs. We couldn’t support them in paying for college, or a down payment on a house, or whatever.
I’ll try to support the children, but, if it comes to it? ok. I can instill a work ethic. I can encourage them to attend community college and get a degree affordably. There would certainly be drama when 3 teenagers are in a small apartment, but there will be drama no matter what. Looking back at human history, a lot of heads under a small roof is really kind of the norm.
So: I work hard to provide financial stability, to create a financial buffer for the family. But, I also choose to use my free-time to play with the children and to exercise instead of running a side hustle. In balance, I think having a present father and one who hopefully lives to help out with grand-kids is superior to further reducing that margin of error in our finances.
Or similarly, I think it’s great for a child to learn to be independent. But that involves accepting risks that they might hurt themselves. Treating a broken leg as simply unthinkable prevents you from balancing how much freedom is best for the child on balance.
Once you can imagine yourself in a hard position, and imagine how you’ll respond (as you did in this post! With grit and determination to get through it!) then you can start really balancing how you should best live your life today, both minimizing bad outcomes and maximizing good ones.
Good thoughts. We are getting father from exceptionally hard times now… which slowly ticks up my Worry-Meter. It’s funny, but so far, in bad times is when I feel I thrive the most. It gives me purpose to work and protect. So, I’ve got to learn how to enjoy the good times better as my purpose to work and protect declines.
This is why I like to approach my finances using “risk of ruin” as a framework.
As someone who has once experienced what it’s like to live dangerously close to the edge, it feels more appropriate to define a personal hell to avoid at all costs (financially underwater), than to set an arbitrary goal to achieve (1,2, 10 million net worth).
To me, “feeling rich” is knowing that my total portfolio can sustain me even through a black swan event. If the stock market does a 90% dip, I can comfortably survive for 2-3 years even if all goods stay at current prices. If such a thing were to occur, surely this buffer would only increase.
It’s more of a gamblers approach, but I think the most important thing is to be diversified enough that you will never be knocked out of the game completely. Live to trade another day as it were.
I like it! Formulate the worst case scenario, and if you and your finances can still survive, then great. Only upside!
Sam writes, “If you have a strong mind, you’re more open to seeing the other side. There is no way of knowing everything. Therefore, the logical thing to do is learn from others who’ve experienced what you might one day experience. In other words, a strong mind is also an open mind.”
Truer words were never written. Unfortunately, much of our culture appears to be going in precisely the opposite direction. Which is worrisome for the nation’s financial well-being as a whole. People increasingly wish to stifle the opinions of those who disagree with them, rather than being open to hearing a different perspective. When we are reduced to intellectual conformity, from whence will come the innovations that spur a healthy economy?
One of my favorite things about Sam is he ALWAYS models openness to different opinions. When folks criticize his positions in the comments, rather than being offended he asks for further input— he is open to new information and new ways of thinking.
Remaining open-minded, as Sam says, is critical to our individual financial well-being. As a nation, we ignore the pernicious and growing trend toward intellectual and ideological conformity at our peril.
Appreciate you pointing this out! Sure, the criticism sometimes stings. But oftentimes there is something there to learn from.
Sam, you didn’t actually ask me, you said thanks for the tough love. You’re welcome. And since you’ve asked, get ready for the long-form reply. First, as a finance writer let’s talk about debt. Existential debt. Whenever you want something, you go into existential debt. If you want a fancy car, you go into existential debt for some metal. If it’s Johnny or Sally, you’ve gone into existential debt for another person who may not even know you have gone into debt for them. Want = lack. “I want = I lack.” I don’t want anything. My needs (shelter, food, water, etc) are all provided for. I can only eat so much food before I get fat. I can only sleep in one bed. But I can want endlessly and go into existential debt forever. A practical definition of a happy person is the one with no wants. Happy people are content people. They want nothing because they lack nothing, not because there aren’t millions of things to want, but because they are not in existential debt to them. Try not wanting anything and see what I mean. The less you want the happier you are because your existential debts are erased. The person in existential scarcity has wants. The person in existential abundance doesn’t. If you gave me a car I would sell it because I don’t want a car. If you gave me a house I would sell it. I don’t want a house. Health, love, and enough money for needs, not endless wants. That’s it. 99% of what we think is money is what we project onto money, our fears, our weaknesses, our neuroses. Once you no longer want anything you get out of existential debt. How many tons of nuts do you really need? How much existential debt are you willing to take on? You’ll be ok. Your kids will be ok. All you need to do is get out of debt. Peace.
I did, if you review my comment reply and email. But let me try again!
I’d love to know more about you and how you have mastered financial security, contentment, and happiness.
I don’t think I’ve met someone in their 60s who decided to start a personal finance site. Is this your passion and goals?
Also, do you have children? It seems like many parents of young children have a natural tendency to feel more uncertain. If you have children, what were some tips that helped you work through the unknown.
Regarding debt, it’s not an issue for me at the moment. It’s being a good enough farther to raise my children and protect my family.
Thanks for sharing your story and your tips!
Why do you think Cody isn’t willing to answer your questions or share anything about himself? It’s more or less “you should do this and that”?
Derek, it may be because I work as a mergers and acquisitions advisor in LA as well as run a blog and take care of an 88-year-old parent. I just spent 45 hours babysitting a computer timer to relicense in M&A. Happy to tell all.
Sure, feel free to tell all and answer the questions. I’m also wondering whether you have kids or not. Is M&A giving you lots of fulfillment? If so, why not do more instead of write a blog too?
Oh dear, Sam (AKA). This is going to be a difficult reply, but many years ago I went through an awakening where I…man, this is complicated. Ok… I woke up one day after living for years with anger and disappointment, in everyone, everything, species extinction, pollution, endless war, you know the drill, and one late night I had been ruminating on what a cubic meter of space has in it in a Great Void. We actually live in the biggest Super Void in the known universe. The answer about what is in there is – nothing. Some places don’t even have a single atom in them. They are a perfect vacuum. A rogue hydrogen atom wanders in there. Is it possible to make a more perfect atom? If you know a way to do this, I’ll invest in your company, because it isn’t possible. A hydrogen atom is perfect. What about a helium atom? Same thing. Basically, energy slowed down to a condensed form. So now we have 99% of the entire universe (H = 75% He= 25%) that I was unable to see any way to improve. Well, there isn’t any way to improve the other 1% either. You can’t improve an atom, no matter what species. What are you made out of? Correct. You can’t improve yourself because you are already perfect. You are made from the products of 14 billion years of Big Bang nucleosynthesis and stellar nucleosynthesis. The only other component is consciousness, which, again, comes from the universe. Long story short, I woke up to a perfect world. Crystalline in its perfection. I don’t mean perfect as in “I had a perfect day” or “My banana bread is perfect” I mean, literally, perfection as an underlying condition of the universe, everywhere, in everything, at all times, a kind of mathematical constant pervading the entire fabric of everything. Trees? Atoms. Perfect. Planets? Atoms. Perfect. Galaxies? Atoms. Perfect. People going to war? Perfect. If the atoms are perfect then the molecules are perfect, if the molecules are perfect (just atoms) then the cells are perfect, if the cells are perfect (just atoms) the organs are perfect and therefore the organism is perfect as well. There is no chance for imperfection to be introduced. Imperfection is a judgment about something and resides only in our minds, a false perception. It’s like this: Can you see the atmosphere? The answer is: Yes, and No. Yes, you can see the atmosphere. Look outside. You’re looking at it directly. No, you can’t. It’s transparent. Perfection is like that. You see it every day but don’t see it. because it is so big and enveloping. Just like dirt on a car windshield the clarity of perfection is obscured by our judgments, opinions, biases, wants, fears, our stories, the huge amorphous BLOB of information we acquire throughout our lives until we can’t see reality anymore. All we see are our thoughts and ideas about reality. One morning, like a rain, all those were washed away and I saw the perfection of reality. There are phenomena, and then there are our responses to phenomena. They are not the same things. There are events, facts, and then there are our responses to these events and facts. Somehow one morning I stopped reacting to the phenomena. I stopped fighting with reality. I stopped throwing emotions at reality. Reality always wins. Always. Reality always, always wins. So I don’t fight with poverty or abundance or wants or what “should” be or what “could” be or “what if” or anything else. When you experience complete acceptance something amazing happens. It is a form of enlightenment. Calm, expectant joy. If I ever get cancer, guess what? It is a phenomenon, nothing more. The cells are doing whatever it is they’re supposed to do and have done for 14 billion years. Would I try to kill those cells? Of course, I would. I just wouldn’t try to throw emotions at them, because they wouldn’t be listening anyway. Lose my job? 14 billion years of evolution for that moment to unfold. Everything is in place. Everything is perfect. The concentration camp guard’s consciousness? Perfect for them. The consciousness that occasioned the Holocaust? Perfect. For them. Their consciousness was perfect for them at that time, for whatever conditions made them do what they did. I can’t go back and tell them to be more evolved. A two-year-old cannot tie her own shoe. She will have to wait until she is 3. Then she will have the consciousness to tie her shoe. The world is still two, it isn’t evolved. I accept this level of evolution now. My consciousness? It is perfect for me. Yours? Perfect for you. I cannot make your consciousness mine or mine yours, so I don’t fight others, or argue, or expect anything of them, just acceptance. Your ideas are as much yours as the whorls on your fingers. My whorls are different. So why would I try to impose my thoughts on you? It would be like arguing that the patterns on our fingertips are the same. They aren’t. You vote your way, she drives her way, he thinks his way. Acceptance. Total, unconditional acceptance of everything in its inherent perfection. So it isn’t being strong at all. What I learned is that being enlightened is much easier than being unenlightened. Ever see a dog go after a ball? That’s enlightenment. It is far easier to be in total acceptance than fight reality and think throwing emotions at reality will change it. Enlightenment is really just a dumb magic trick. Once you see the trick, it’s very simple where before it was baffling. A dumb magic trick. Not very useful really. Anyone can be enlightened. Enlightenment is simply accepting everything as it is. No effort is involved, and effort is replaced with calm curiosity and wonderment. Security is acceptance. Love is acceptance. Peace is acceptance. I can’t explain what happened when I woke up except that I experienced total acceptance for everything and saw the absolute perfection of everything everywhere. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it. It is everywhere, in all things, since time began. Derek, does this explain?
Hi Cody – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m not sure I quite comprehend everything.
Why did you live for years with anger and disappointment? Years is a long time. And I’m glad you overcame.
Still wondering whether you have kids and how you managed to manage the uncertainty as a parent. That’s what I’m trying to solve for the most.
I’ll try the easy version…When the sun comes up, do you get freaked
out by it? Probably not. You aren’t connected at an emotional level to
the sunrise. Do you get freaked out when the market crashes? Maybe,
because you are connected emotionally (fear, etc) to the market. You
can’t control either one. Why does one freak you out while the other one
doesn’t? Do your emotions change the market? No. Sunrise? No. So, again,
there is a phenomenon, and quite separately, completely separate from
the event, is our response to that phenomenon. The two aren’t at all
Let’s see, remember when Kurt Cobain committed suicide? Some of his fans
committed suicide because he did. That doesn’t make any sense at all,
but it’s the same process, being emotionally affected by something we
have no control over. My example of the wife with Justin the bagboy?
Getting emotional and thrashing the room is how I might have behaved
previously. How could you! How could you do this to me! The typical
learned response. Now I understand this as something that simply is, not
something I need to be emotionally distraught over, just like the sun
rising. This is very much a Stoic concept. We can’t control what happens
in the world, we can only control our thoughts surrounding them. Somehow
I just went a lot further in a spontaneous level of acceptance, because
everything is perfect in the isness and beingness of its existence.
Fear is the appropriate response when a tiger is in the room. Anxiety is
a self-created tiger. Anxiety is only a thought of a tiger. There is no
tiger. Since people are programmed to have problems to solve when they
no longer have any real problems they start manufacturing them. When
people get a lot of money they often become very neurotic since their
problem-solving gene keeps going without any real problem to solve. I’m
speaking generally here. With no real problem, no real fear, there is a
tendency to create a problem (tiger) since their problem-solving gene
doesn’t just shut off. The difference is the tiger isn’t really there.
Anxiety is an imaginary tiger.
Hope this helps. I think you are sincerely freaked about your kid’s
well-being. You’re a good dad. Thanks for that. Honestly. Mine wasn’t
Also, I’m winding down my M&A activities. I’ve got a couple in process
but not looking for more.
Hi Cody, thanks for finally answering the questions. And someone with our children, it is hard to empathize with parents with young children. Don’t think you can ever understand the uncertainty some parents feel about taking care of little ones.
So I encourage you to be a little bit more empathetic, especially if you do not know what someone is going through.
Based on your writing, it seems like you have gone through A lot. And I’m not sure if you are mentally well, to be very honest. Please read through what you wrote and see how the train of thought all over the place and nonsensical.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to get some help. But then again, if you are truly happy and satisfied, and then more power to you!
Great point. I never thought of it that way.
How do you handle working toward improving your situation? For example, I won’t ignore the want of my kids to be able to go to college, so I’m saving for that. And I’m not ok if they don’t have the opportunity to go, and I’m not ok with them having to borrow to attend. Therefore, my want is the least worst solution as far I as I’m concerned. I feel like there’s plenty of these types of scenarios that are unavoidable.
Great post. A mind that has been conditioned to find opportunities and learn from failure is truly the mother of all the golden egg-laying geese.
You can argue all you want about what the right level of financial concern is. I’m not saying there’s a healthy level, or that constant concern is healthy at all. But like everything with finances, your goal should always be having the most best options to gain in all future scenarios.
Your mind is your greatest asset. Watching my parents friends hit their 70’s and 80’s and seeing more and more of them slowly lose their memories and omental facilities is heartbreaking. All that money they have accumulated will be used for nursing homes, and not enjoying their golden years. The stress on the spouse and their children is also hard to watch. My father enjoys spending time managing his assets, and requires his to read and digest information daily. Try to relax, but don’t ever give up learning!
Your articles are always a good read Sam.
I think having a strong mind includes having the ability to be an independent thinker. It’s good to ask people for advice, but ultimately it comes down to making your own decision.
You make a good point about being humble regardless how successful you are. I try to remind myself there is alot of things I don’t know. But this is good because not knowing creates this curiosity to learn more. Also I have to acknowledge luck has played a part in my journey. One might argue you have to put yourself in a position to spot the opportunity – the luck is the insane upside gain no one expected.
It’s why I still send over my posts and newsletter to my dad to edit! He may not like to do so, but I feel strongly that it will keep his mental health sharp. Having a purpose is a great reason to live!
I read your post right after reading this one: https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-maintain-a-healthy-brain-to-reduce-the-risk-of-dementia. I think reading each might change my week (I hope). Thanks for posting new material on your website!