Saturday, February 16, 2013

Remember What the Dormouse Said

All of us need to learn to deal with disappointments and even outright failure. It is part of the human condition. This blog deals with the particular problems of financial literacy, debt, budgeting, investment, and unemployment. There is a subtheme to everything that I write. You can choose to change your life. You can make it better.

Basically there are three ways to confront a problem. The most common human reaction to unfortunate circumstances is blame. It is very comforting to blame our financial problems on evil rich people whom we can hate or the power of economic events that are simply beyond our control. Even if it is true, even if we have been victimized by evil rich people or the ebb and flow of global economics, dwelling in a state of hatred and blame is not productive.

A popular song of the 1960s ends with the line, "Remember what the dormouse said: feed your head, feed your head". While we will not dwell on that particular song or its place in cultural history, it is a great line to remember when you choose to turn your back on disappointment, failure, fear, hatred, and bitterness.

There are two ways to move towards the light, change your life or change your goals. Unless you are totally incapacitated, you can do something to change your life. It starts with what you choose to feed your head. The web is full of valuable information on almost any subject you can imagine. If you need to improve your financial situation begin to change your mental diet. Find material that will help you. Find teachers who have solved problems that were probably worse than your own. Both Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey have pretty gnarly stories of personal bankruptcy, failure, and victimization. What they teach is just the beginning there is so much more out there.

There is something else you feed your head. Some call it self talk. Consistently reminding yourself of your weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures is not likely to lead to self improvement. Once you have the basic tools, tell yourself you can change your life. As you apply those tools to your life you will have successes. Then celebrate those successes reminding yourself of your past victories even when you face defeat.

Setbacks will occur.

Finally, there is a time to let go of our desires. All professional athletes come to the day when they can no longer play the sport that has been the center of their entire life. So they move on. Some apply the same focus and intensity that brought them fame and fortune to other areas of life. Byron "Whizzer" White won fame both as a football halfback and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Others just enjoy a comfortable retirement with their family and friends, playing golf and remembering the good old days. Some become drug addicts. We shake our heads in dismay when their dead bodies are discovered in some random alley. How you deal with the end of a dream is up to you.

How you deal with the end of a dream will be determined by your self talk.

These truths apply to every problem we confront, not just finances. I am overweight. I could complain about my age, the arthritis in my knees, the old injury to my lower back, or my heart condition. All of those complaints would be perfectly true. I am limited. However dwelling on my limitations has not been helpful. I know what I need to do. Eat a better more balanced diet. Eat less. Exercise more.

In retirement, I have started to consciously attack this problem. I am eating less and I am eating better. I have a long way to go in this area. I will need to take it easy on myself. I can walk. I walk 2.5 miles on most days. Even when it is nasty outside; I dress appropriately, then I tell myself, “You can walk.” Once a week I have been attending a senior exercise class. My performance is, well, dreadful. I am losing weight. I am down about 15 pounds. I have a long way to go. Will I continue to fight the good fight or will I give up, again?

Time will tell. The outcome is in my hands.


Hey, are you okay? better luck on another day. this path some weren't meant to follow.
You're curious I can see, always looking behind the trees. keeping one eye on tomorrow.
Re-engineer your head, is really what the dormouse said. push the lies away.
If you take time and look for clues ...scrape the shit off your shoes, you'll feel the real today.
I'd love to take you to see what I see there, on the right side of my mind.
On the right side, on the right side ... of my mind.
Hey, one more thing, these things are hard to explain. for some, it seems strange to swallow.
The frontier of our minds is the last place we find, but maybe the first place we should go.
I'd love to take you to see what I see there... on the right side of my mind.

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