Recently, I and four KWB team members attended an investment conference in Nashville, TN. Our goals for the conference were to listen, learn, be open to new ideas, and implement the things that would make KWB Wealth a better place for both clients and our team members.
The takeaways, it turns out, weren’t just relevant to KWB but had a significant impact on me. The general theme of the conference was finding your happy place. We live in a world with a 24/7 news cycle. We’re humans and feel the need to stay connected.
Studies show that we are living longer as a society,
but more of that time is spent alone and less happy.
So, what can we do to take control of our lives and be happier?
First, we can respect the past but not live in it. Tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life! Focusing on the things that matter most and eliminating the noise is a good start. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” says Albert Einstein. Humans need to step back and imagine a happy future and what it looks like. Then eliminate or reduce the noise that sets us back while amplifying the things that bring us into our happy zone.
Studies show positive inputs tend to generate positive thoughts and outputs. If we read, see, or look for the things that are wrong with the world, we’re likely to be more unhappy than if we seek or source more positive feeds. Said another way, are we playing chess or checkers in life and our search for happiness? Chess is a thoughtful, strategic game where you make longer-term moves to win the match. In chess pieces move in numerous ways; pawns, knights, bishops, and the queen all have their specific moves. The goal is to capture your opponent’s king. In life, you must make similar choices and move pieces around to reduce the negative undertones. Simple things like choosing and being in control of our news feeds, turning off notifications that can distract us from a happy moment, turning off the electronic devices that keep us from being in the moment, and choosing to surround ourselves with positive people are just a few.
Checker pieces can only move diagonally, and the goal is to capture all your opponent’s checkers. The game is usually shorter and less strategic than chess. We may win the game and live our lives, but we didn’t do it with the same long-term strategy of finding and capturing the king.
I’m in the wealth business. I’m convinced that happy people have better investment returns than unhappy people. Happy people look at what can go right, see the potential upside, and are likelier to take educated risks. Unhappy people dwell on what can go wrong and look for all the reasons why they shouldn’t take a risk or do something. Anything worthwhile in life is likely going to require us to step out and take chances. Buying your first home, investing in stocks, investing in an education hoping the future income will be offset by the cost to obtain the knowledge are examples. Sure, lots of things can go wrong AND they can just as easily go right. Even if something negative has happened in your past, we can’t remain there if we want to live a happy fulfilled life.
So, why am I lucky? I’m lucky because most of my life I’ve been a happy, sometimes naïve, person believing that things are going to be all right. In 1996 I formed KWB which has since grown into a successful investment firm employing and serving great people. I built our home office wanting to have a nice place where we could work and meet clients. The building was in development just as the 9/11 Terrorist attack occurred. Fear immediately emerged as I wondered what would happen. I quickly moved away from my fears and pushed forward. My team and I continued to invest in technology, people, and updated our building, and held onto the belief that all would be okay. My unwavering confidence is partially fed by being a happy and optimistic person. Today, I can say I have no regrets and look to the future with excitement.
To get here, I’ve distanced myself from the negative news cycles, political wrangling, and conspiracy theorists, and focused on what I can control and how I see things. That doesn’t mean I’m clueless or naïve when it comes to economics. I just prefer to focus on the things that I believe matter most. I know I can vote, but can’t change who or what party will win. I can watch the news and have strong feelings, but I can’t change interest rates, solve the national debt crisis, or end the war in Ukraine. I can be happy and optimistic that humankind will figure it out and move forward.
I tend to focus on what people are doing and how they are living. I hear what people are saying and contrast it with what they are doing. Today, I see a lot of people fearing uncertainty and challenges but still choosing to live their lives. The concerns are born out of the constant and abundant negative impressions we hear and see in our daily lives, which are often promoted by entities who benefit from our attention. Fear sells!
I see people working, low unemployment, rising wages, people traveling, spending time with their families, and attending expensive events like the Taylor Swift or Beyonce concerts. Sure, the world isn’t perfect but sometimes you have to make some strategic moves to get to a happy place. You can’t just go through life diagonally. You will likely have just one trip on Earth. How do you want to spend the rest of your life?
~ Kerry Bubb