Worrying Works

The world we share is complicated, chaotic even, and exceeding difficult to relate to on more than a daily basis.  It defies projection.

People value predictability because that seems to minimize risk.  They can accommodate their situation if they can anticipate their situation.  Sadly, they will be denied perfect future knowledge.  Surprises abound.  Things we take for granted disappear.  Change is a fact of life and worse, change changes. 

We cannot cope with the future with old methods. That is risky. The ability to adapt is a huge advantage.

Investment predictability is one of the areas we notice.  Maybe because so many people find it interesting.

Former fund manager, Peter Lynch sees it this way.

Thousands of experts study overbought indicators, oversold indicators, head-and-shoulder patterns, put-call ratios, the Fed’s policy on money supply, foreign investment, the movement of the constellations through the heavens, and the moss on oak trees, and they can’t predict markets with any useful consistency, any more than the gizzard squeezers could tell the Roman emperors when the Huns would attack

No help there.

Should you worry about the things you have no ability to control? 

The inner peace idea is to work at the things you can influence, accept the others and have the wisdom to know the difference.  Not quite good enough for most of us.

Peter Lynch has also pointed out that there is always something to worry about.  Worry attaches to the third part of the idea. 

When we do not yet have the wisdom to decide whether to fix the problem or to accept the problem we worry. The inherent thesis must be that worrying works.  Worrying clarifies.

Worrying motivates us to change the things we can and to gracefully accept the things that we cannot change.  As a further wisdom it can lead to a way to both accept and fix. For example, by using insurance to neutralize the financial cost of inevitable death.  Accepting and fixing then become two sides of one problem.

Worrying works is a philosophy of life that has value.  But only if you translate the worry into a decision.  Fix or accept.  Or both.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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