In previous posts, I’ve written about being as open-minded as possible in order to build an Accurate Model of Reality.  As readers of this site know, I am extremely pessimistic/skeptical about the future financial success and viability of the US.  As such, does that fact automatically peg me as a “pessimist”?  I don’t think so.

My worldview isn’t solely a function of the financial markets, it is a function of trying to understand the world around me, focus on the positive and, most importantly, be thankful that things could be much worse.

I think part of that mindset comes from determining what really matters in life.  I’ve been around very rich and successful people and they did not seem satisfied in their lives.  In fact, they consumed as much alcohol, rich food, and distracting “entertainment” as poorer people.  The best things in life are good health and being able to share your love and talents with others.

I’ve come to realize that the ugly reality of the daily grind helps us appreciate the everyday happiness right in front of our face.  Clean water, delicious and plentiful food, libraries full of books and constant entertainment/amusement/enlightenment from the Internet.

When you have a chance to truly slow down the “frames” in the movie of life and compare it to that of other people’s movies or other time periods in history, it is truly a privilege to be alive. The fact that you’re reading this article on a computer or phone(!) is proof enough that you have access to the greatest knowledge base in all of mankind.  The richest people only 25 years ago could not access the very information you have available to you at your whim.

Gratitude, or “everyday happiness”, comes from slowing down.  It also comes from being made aware of worse situations, either those you experienced firsthand, or that which you observe or conceptualize.

I struggled financially for quite a few years before slowly building some savings.  I’ve eaten poorly and had periods of ill health before realizing how important good health is.  I’ve been incredibly lonely before finding someone to share my life with.  I’ve faked enjoying late nights at crowded, filthy bars before realizing I could enjoy the peace and comfort of my apartment reading thought-provoking books or articles.

I remember a few years back in Chicago, I bought an expensive piece of Gruyere cheese from Whole Foods.  I took a very sharp paring knife and sliced a razor thin piece and let it melt and dissolve on my tongue.  Even though I wasn’t able to save any money during that period, I really enjoyed and savored that piece of cheese.  Nowadays, I wouldn’t think twice about buying a piece of expensive cheese, but I doubt I would enjoy it as much now as I did then.  The difference?  Enjoyment and gratitude.

Yes, the next few years will be incredibly difficult.  The markets will suffer horribly, a currency crisis is not impossible and our standards of living will contract.  Does that make me pessimistic?  No.  Life will still be wonderful as long as we have our health and our sense of gratitude.

To read more about creating an Accurate Model of Reality, click here.

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One Response to “Optimistic, Pessimistic or Realistic?”

  1. Tom HumesNo Gravatar on April 20th, 2009 4:24 pm

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

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