Pessimist or Optimist

Buy low, sell high. That is the ideal of every day-trader. But for many, that is one of the hardest things to do. When the stocks are at their lowest and seemingly in a freefall, the one with limited resources will have a difficult time pouring money into it. And when the stocks are at their peak, who is to say what tomorrow will bring. How much potential profit could be left on the table?

The best times to get in is during the times of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). It is also the most dangerous time. Whether one gets in or not all depends on the outlook. Is this an opportunity or a potential disaster?

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist see opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill

Seasons come and they go. War, depression, and plagues come upon us and go away, only to be replaced by the next critical event. All of it could precede the end, or it could become the catalyst for a new beginning. It is all a matter of viewpoint, all a matter for hope or despair.

Winston Churchill found himself in a war to end all wars. It was one of the darkest times in memory. He survived and went on to enjoy a time of peace, a time when the world could rebuild and repair itself. Yet, that was short-lived. A couple of decades later, he was once again thrust into another war to end all wars. He could have sat on the sidelines and allowed others to fight. Instead, he maintained his belief in a brighter future. He was the optimist that saw opportunity in one of history’s greatest difficulties. A worthy example for all of us to follow.

Winter Is Coming

The Summer ends and the final preparations must be completed.

The Autumn comes and with it the leaves. So many leaves, and they must be gathered quickly.

Winter. Is there enough wood for the fire? Are their leaves left that will make walking treacherous?

Spring. A new hope of a brighter future. Yet, the work is never done.

A couple of years ago, my family and I moved from the city to the country. Before the move, I never really considered the seasons. Of course, I saw the beauty in it all, but it never had that great of an influence on me. When it was warm, I wore less clothes and sweated more. When it was cold, I dressed accordingly.

These days, I spend much of my time considering the seasons. When the Winter leaves and the Spring comes, the harshness goes away. The darkness recedes and is replaced by a welcoming sun. The fields need to be planted, but this labor isn’t too bad because the promise of pleasant days is on the horizon. Everything done in the Spring is to prepare for the Summer, then the Autumn, and finally back to Winter. It is a never-ending cycle.

The seasons of the year make me cognizant of the seasons of my life. I go through stretches full of hope, just like the Spring. I enjoy the long days and smooth flow of the Summer. And in the back of my mind, I know the seasons of my life will continue to change. It is only a matter of time before the Winter comes.

All the seasons are important, but I find the Summer to be the most dangerous. If I fall into the trappings of ease and comfort, if I become lackadaisical in my preparations, then the Autumn will come, and I will not be prepared. I will do in the Autumn what I should have done in the Summer. Before I know it, the Winter will be upon me, and I will be behind. The Winter is where the real struggle will begin. Cold, dark, lonely. Will we survive another harsh season?

The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King Jr.

It is in the winter where we are tested. It is a time when we discover who we really are, who we can become. We must do more than survive in the dark times, we must learn to thrive. Therefore, if we want peace in the Winter, we must prepare for war in the Summer.*

War in the Summer of our lives means to prepare and test ourselves for the Winter that will inevitably come to each of us. For it is in that Winter that we will ultimately be measured. Are you ready?

*We make war that we may live in peace. -Aristotle

A Champ’s Price

The great champions made what they did look easy. Of course they were talented, but that is a characteristic that can only take someone so far. The magic ingredient is the work they combined with their talent. Endless hours went into perfecting the basics. They ate, slept, and practiced.

As Babe Ruth said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Champions don’t give up. They get knocked down, probably more than anybody else, and then they get back up. Again, and again. And after each time they get up, the knockdowns come fewer and farther in between.

If you are going to be a champion, you must be willing to pay a greater price.

Bud Wilkinson

The greater price is what separates them from the rest of the field. Comfort is an after-thought. Complacency is unacceptable. Only a select few can be a champion—only those willing to pay a greater price.

The lesser price is for everybody else. It is for the ordinary. And it doesn’t matter if it is in sports or everyday life, champions pay a greater price.

What price am I willing to pay? I don’t have to look far to see the ordinary. If I settle for being like everybody else, if I settle for average, then that is all I will ever be. I won’t be a champion if I settle. If I don’t do things different, then how can I expect to be different?

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

Jim Rohn

Feature photo by Steven Erixon on Unsplash.

Home of the Brave

As a parent, the line is razor thin. On the one side is protection. My goal as a protective father is to ensure my son sees adulthood, preferably with a sound mind and all his body parts. On the other side is freedom. I want him to have the freedom to choose, to explore, to do all the mischievous things boys should do. I don’t want him to get hurt. But at the same time, I don’t want him to be coddled to the point that he grows up to be something less than a man.

I think of all the stupid stuff I did as a kid. At least, my hindsight says it was stupid. How many times did I do something dangerous, get lost in the woods, or be somewhere I shouldn’t have been? In some cases, I was lucky to survive. In all cases, I was learning how to live and how not to die. With freedom came risk. And in every instance, freedom was preferable to it counterpart.

This nation will remain the land of the free as long as it is the home of brave.

Elmer Davis

This land was built with freedom as a focal point. To ensure that freedom and pass it down to the next generation, men and women had to sacrifice. The tree of liberty was refreshed in blood (Jefferson). Bravery was the prerequisite to freedom.

Today is a day to remember the brave men and women who have protected Liberty’s torch and ensured its light will continue to shine for the next generation. And the best way to pay honor to that sacrifice is to do more than offer a small word of gratitude. It is to be brave ourselves and to raise the next generation to be brave. This is the only way to guarantee our freedom. It is the only proper way to pay homage to those who gave so much.

Don’t Tread on Me

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.

-Excerpt from an article attributed to Benjamin Franklin originally published in The Pennsylvania Journal, 12 December 1775. Click here for the full letter.

The rattlesnake’s warning is distinctive. If you hear it, you know to stop, to look around, and to go the other way if possible. The rattlesnake is a fearsome creature, but he is not mean by nature. Instead, he is quite considerate. Compared to the other poisonous animals in the world, he is the only one to give you a warning. He says, “Think carefully before you tread on me. I don’t want to bite you, but I will if you force me to it.”

For centuries, the British were one of the dominant powers on this planet. They felt they could go wherever they wanted, rule where the profits were greatest, and generally walk all over everybody else. The American colonies didn’t prefer the British tyranny and responded by raising the Gadsden Flag. It was a symbol and a warning: If you tread on us, we will bite.

If we choose to be no more than clods of clay, then we shall be used as clods of clay for braver feet to tread on.

Marie Corelli

The world has changed considerably since those days in the late 1700’s. Does this mean people have changed? There are still those who think the world is theirs for the taking. They have no qualms trying to control those they deem inferior. And if we allow it, then we are no more than clods of clay for their feet. Like the early Colonials, we are faced with a choice. Do we passively surrender our freedoms, or do we do as the rattlesnake? If we choose freedom over tyranny, then we must sound the warning and let the oppressors know we can bite. We can fight back.

Happiness-Freedom-Courage

So many long for happiness, yet so many have yet to find a true and lasting form of it. Some would blame others for their inability to obtain it. Others would look for cheapened versions of it that only lasts a few moments before the rush dwindles and fades away.

Happiness is found within each of us. We cannot trust others to provide it for us. We must determine what it is and then work to discover it.

The secret to happiness is freedom…

The secret is freedom. But what is freedom? Is it the ability to do whatever one pleases? Would this not make one a slave to his desires? Freedom must go beyond base pleasure. It must speak of a higher nature, something more meaningful.

When I think of freedom, I think of the ability to operate without hindrance towards one’s goal. Freedom to pursue happiness.

and the secret of freedom is courage. -Thucydides

Simply stated, one cannot be afraid to take calculated risks. There is a chance of failure. Even the safest bets can go awry. But this should not deter us from trying. After all, our happiness, and our freedom, is on the line. If we fail, we should pause. We should look to see what went wrong and what can be done better. And after this moment, we get back up and try again. It is an endless cycle until we hit the mark, until we find the happiness we seek.


Feature photo by saeed karimi on Unsplash

Proverbs 24:10 Small Strength

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

Proverbs 24:10

Such a point-blank statement we would do well to keep in mind! Nobody wants to be considered weak. Lacking courage is not a desired virtue. What can we do if we find ourselves in this boat?

Train.

We can build our courage up. We can practice doing hard things that takes us out of our comfort zones. And what is one of the best ways to train our courage?

Train our bodies.

A strong, fit body leads to higher self-esteem. And a person who believes in himself, he will be more likely to step up when he is needed.

Discipline is needed to work your body. The mind must tell the body to get going and to keep going. The mind tells the body which foods are going to provide the greatest benefit and which foods are not worth eating.

And if the mind is the catalyst to kickstart the body’s motion, the heart is the coach that tells the body to keep going. The heart is where courage resides and where it is trained. Conditioning of the heart makes it stronger.

If I don’t want to faint in the day of adversity, then I must strengthen my courage. I can start by doing a little “something uncomfortable” each day. I can build up gradually through training and preparation. In time, I can be strong. I can be courageous.

Be Yourself

Popeye was one of my favorite cartoons as a child. He was a somewhat normal guy trying to do the right thing. When times got rough, he would crack open a can of performance enhancing spinach and solve the problem.

That is what I wanted to be like—a normal guy able to overcome the obstacles of life. Of course, I didn’t want to be in a position where I was always getting bullied, where I was forced to drink a cup of courage in my direst need, just able to survive to see the next day.

I yam what I yam and dats all what I yam. -Popeye the Sailor Man

I quoted the quote and sang the song, but back then I never considered taking it to heart. I am what I am. I am not Popeye, not like Mike (Jordan), or any other childhood hero. Nope. I am what I am. I can emulate the actions of my heroes and mentors, but in the end, I must remember:

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

Oscar Wilde

Courtesy as much as Courage

There was once a time when one would hurry ahead only to open the door for the one coming behind. Now a person would hardly look back to see if any was coming.

Once a lady could board a crowded train or bus and others would get up and offer her their seat. Now, she stands.

Once, driving down the road, motorists would use their turn signals and allow others to merge into their lanes. Not anymore.

But that was in the past.

A genuine “how do you do,” a hearty handshake, a smile, and a heartfelt response. Have these become relics of a previous age?

Courtesy is as much a mark of man as is courage.

Theodore Roosevelt

Courage is no doubt a virtue many would attain. Do we look at courtesy in the same light? Consider the cost it requires to show a little kindness. For you, it may only be a few seconds to go out of your way. For the recipient, the effects may leave a lasting impression paying dividends for years to come.


Feature photo by Adelin Preda on Unsplash

Make Use of Suffering

Suffering is inevitable. That may be something we might not want to hear, but it is true.

Our bodies will degenerate as we age. We can do our best to minimize the effects through nutrition, daily physical activity, and stress management. But despite our best efforts, we will succumb to age. And we can try our best to prevent accidents, but they will still happen. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, rest assured, someday you will suffer physically.

We can guard our souls, but they too will suffer. We will mourn others who suffer. We will mourn loved ones as they pass. Our hearts will long for that which it cannot have. Our souls will suffer.

And then there is the mind. Here the suffering may not be as acute. The body can numb some of its ailments. The soul can as well through the passage of time. Bur our minds are always working. Wanting for the body and soul to be at peace, it wants for the things they cannot have. It longs for something higher, for something better in the future. Although self-induced, the mind will also suffer.

You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.

Henri Frederic Amiel

To make use of the suffering is the art of living. Indeed, to suffer gracefully is truly an art! And some do this better than others. They take their internal battles stoically. Suffering is a test of the will. And where some, at the slightest hindrance, will go about in sack cloth and ashes proclaiming, “Woe is me,” others will hold their pains close and look for ways to overcome it. They go forth to do battle, and through grit and resolve return as conquerors. The suffering is looked upon as an opportunity, and they will find the greatest use for it.


Feature photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash