Words from Sam
Just last week I traveled to Charleston. This is a wonderful city by the ocean that hosts multiple cranes dotting the skyline, an indicator the building boom is going strong. As of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been up 11 sessions in a row, to extend the record levels of the stock market. More wealth and more stuff, but are we ever satisfied?
There is a fine line that defines striving for the best and being satisfied with where we are in life and finding contentment. I am not saying that Clemson should not strive to repeat as National Champions. I am not saying David and I should not always be striving to do a better job for our clients, nor am I saying we should not always be looking to improve and get better. If we aren’t going forward we could be going backwards, and that would not be good!
There is an old saying, “it is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” We live in a world of plenty and sometimes the “stuff” gets in the way of what is really important in life. I am somewhat concerned with the younger generation of which my daughter is a part. There is a new “app” called House Party. All the kids “gather” on their cell phones and chat together in the comfort of their own homes. This is replacing so much of the face-to-face interaction we all grew up with. While I am not going to try to find the scientific facts to back up my next comment, I believe face-to-face, human interactions are one of the most important aspects of a complete and happy life.
We live in a day and age where “stuff,” which does not necessarily make us happy, is used to replace simple things that can bring joy to our lives. If we always want “more,” and “more” will not necessarily improve any aspect of our lives, then “more” simply creates tension that is just not necessary.
We can recognize this with our investments. I heard comments after the election that folks were not making enough money. I think now is an appropriate time for me to reinforce the concept that no one has a crystal ball. Not any one individual I have ever known of can predict with 100% certainty the day-to-day movements of the financial markets. This past presidential election created a very unique situation that was hard to not only “predict,” but to anticipate as well. Clients that were positioned (as most clients are) to take less risk than the stock market, did not and will not outperform the market on the upside. If we are positioned in such a way that gives us the highest probability of achieving our goals and objectives, we should not necessarily be concerned with the short-term swings of the stock market. We should be content that our financial and investment plans are working for our situation, as per our plan.
When we look inward and being content with where we are, I think we should always look to our degree of service to others. With the season of Lent about to begin, we can always look at our lives and what we have or do, and see that which we can do without. I grew up Baptist and the season of Lent was not something we acknowledged except for mention in a Sunday church service. My wife is Episcopalian and Lent is a big part of her Christian faith. During Lent my wife gives up something she really enjoys. We were married in the Episcopal Church, so after our marriage, my mother began giving up something for Lent. I chuckle when I look back at how my mother practiced Lent. She would often give up dessert for Lent, but she did not necessarily view a Hershey’s Kiss here and there as dessert! The main point of this is that a sacrifice is to be made.
As I get older, I am becoming more focused on achieving things that are not material in nature. I want to be a better person and serve others more. As part of this, I will for the first time in my life give up something for Lent. My wife and I are not health nuts, but we are going to be healthier this Lent season. If I look as though I am ill as we get closer to Easter, know it is because I have cut my calories way down by cutting “extras” from my diet. So many in life make huge sacrifices, sacrifices much greater than I can imagine, for the purpose of improving the lives of others. I am sure they live a life of contentment knowing they have served others more than themselves.
** I wrote my blog on Saturday. On Sunday, the sermon at church was on Contentment. The scripture for the sermon was 1 Timothy 6 6-11. You can watch the Sermon online here.