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Old 12-22-2009, 08:38 AM   #61
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I am getting a little better this year about the art of doing nothing, but I still have a long way to go.
May be of interest: The Idler.

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the majority of my friendships (no offense to my friends) are fairly shallow, and although they add to the richness of my life, are not something to depend on.
That's probably true for most people. Don't sweat it.
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:31 PM   #62
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My conclusions on happiness:

1. Everyone has a general happiness setpoint. Whether you win the lottery, or are in an accident and lose you legs, you will return to that setpoint after a few months.

2. You can raise that setpoint a bit by counting your blessings. That is, thinking about the ways in which you are lucky.

Good book on this:

Amazon.com: Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (9780743222983): Martin Seligman: Books
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:46 PM   #63
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T-Al, that is a great book, and Marty Seligman is a wonderful author and expert on positive psychology. I love his work and the tie-in to behavioral economics.
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Old 12-22-2009, 04:14 PM   #64
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My conclusions on happiness:

1. Everyone has a general happiness setpoint. Whether you win the lottery, or are in and accident an lose you legs, you will return to that setpoint after a few months.
I really think you've got something there. I am fundamentally a mildly happy person, and while life is not all "Wheee!!!!", still I find that when nothing bad is happening I am mildly happy and content.

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2. You can raise that setpoint a bit by counting your blessings. That is, thinking about the ways in which you are lucky.
I haven't really tried that, but I am happy and content with my setpoint.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:03 PM   #65
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My lack of contentment is due to being a worrier. I worry about lots of stuff, most of it beyond my control but that doesn't stop me. Intellectually, I know how stupid it is, but it's like I need to have this dark cloud following me around or something.

Among my various worries is the biggie: what if I never have enough saved to ER? Or even R at the level I'd like? My 403b balance is still below what I had two years ago. In that time I upped my contribution some, and after paying off the house a couple months ago I doubled it. I'm still not at the max (currently at 18K) but part of me wonders if, in this economy and for the forseeable future, it's an exercise in futility? Then again, what other option do I have?
<sigh>
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:08 PM   #66
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My lack of contentment is due to being a worrier. I worry about lots of stuff, most of it beyond my control but that doesn't stop me. Intellectually, I know how stupid it is, but it's like I need to have this dark cloud following me around or something.
You might derive some benefit from Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It's a bit dated, but still worthwhile.

You can find a summary here: Dale Carnegie's Advice On How To Stop Worring.

I hope this helps!
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:34 PM   #67
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The essence of sorrow is to desire that which cannot come to pass... conquer that feeling/emotion within and you will find contentment.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:53 PM   #68
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The essence of sorrow is to desire that which cannot come to pass... conquer that feeling/emotion within and you will find contentment.
I agree completely. That is why I have (reluctantly) given up on Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ha
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:31 AM   #69
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I was also going to recommend Carnegie's book. This book isn't too bad either:

Amazon.com: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--and it's all small stuff (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Series) (9780786881857): Richard Carlson: Books
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:23 AM   #70
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Worrying is a habit. And it is a habit that can be broken - without too much effort.

If something is worrying you, and you can in fact do something about it, then sit down, write a plan to deal with it, and set the plan aside for when you can execute the plan. Then you can quit worrying! When the worry keeps cropping up, remind yourself you have a plan. Reviewing the plan occasionally is good. Constantly obsessing over it is not.

A lot of people spend time worrying and fretting and/or getting angry about things that they can't really do anything about at all and/or don't really affect their personal lives to such a great degree that the angst is warranted. The media does a good job of getting us plugged into this wasted effort because that's have they keep us glued to the tube. Recognizing when things are beyond your control and learning to let go of them is pretty important.

For example - you sometimes hear people express:
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The world/US/whatever is going to hell (and that is awful).
Well, maybe it is, but what does that really have to do with my life? Does it really mean my own life has to go to hell? Maybe not! Does it really mean I should life my own life tearing my hair out about it? Does that really do anyone (including myself) any good?

On top of the broad generalization that falsely concludes just because something bad is happening in the world at large it means that you are doomed in your own life, the above thinking is also a bad habit whereby the person is 100% convinced of some future negative outcome when the fact is that none of us know what the future will bring.

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Old 12-23-2009, 01:03 PM   #71
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My lack of contentment is due to being a worrier. I worry about lots of stuff, most of it beyond my control but that doesn't stop me. Intellectually, I know how stupid it is, but it's like I need to have this dark cloud following me around or something.

Among my various worries is the biggie: what if I never have enough saved to ER? Or even R at the level I'd like? My 403b balance is still below what I had two years ago. In that time I upped my contribution some, and after paying off the house a couple months ago I doubled it. I'm still not at the max (currently at 18K) but part of me wonders if, in this economy and for the forseeable future, it's an exercise in futility? Then again, what other option do I have?
<sigh>
Well, what's the worst-case scenario? You lose all your savings/investments in some terrible market calamity and have to live in a trailer and survive on SS and what little income you may be able to find by sweeping floors part time.

There are people in that position and they deal with it. Some of them are even happy.
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:38 PM   #72
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Worrying is a habit. And it is a habit that can be broken - without too much effort.
I think you are very, very correct on that. That's probably where that constant black cloud comes from - you get so used to it being there it seems "normal".

I think part of my worry habit is from being a planner. I was always a good student, not so much because I was a brainiac but because I was good at planning my time, looking ahead to make sure I could get that paper done along with my other work, etc. It became a habit but it also kind of lead me into becoming a worrier I think. Did I forget anything? Did I allow enough time?

On top of that, my mom was and still is, a worrier. My dad is not, at least not as much as my mom. Now why couldn't I have learned from his example and not hers?

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A lot of people spend time worrying and fretting and/or getting angry about things that they can't really do anything about at all and/or don't really affect their personal lives to such a great degree that the angst is warranted. The media does a good job of getting us plugged into this wasted effort because that's have they keep us glued to the tube. Recognizing when things are beyond your control and learning to let go of them is pretty important.
That's me and I agree - the media has a vested interest in keeping us hooked on the gloom and doom. Intellectually I know this - but it's still hard to escape. Of late, I've been thoroughly disgusted with their constant harping on the H1N1, irrationally terrifying parents when in fact, it really is an issue for parents to calmly discuss with their doctors.

I do think my fretting over my ER plans is due in part to my not being convinced that anything has really changed on Wall Street. I'm doing my part, pouring in as much money as I can but I have this feeling that some very greedy and soul-less people are gambling with my money. It's not an up-front obsessive worry, more of a niggly-naggly back of the mind thing.

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On top of the broad generalization that falsely concludes just because something bad is happening in the world at large it means that you are doomed in your own life...
Sometimes we worriers just don't stop to think and look at the big picture. Recently I was sitting in my dentist's office reading that issue of Time with the lead article about this last decade being the worst since WWII. It pointed out that few people would say they're better off now than they were in 2000. Well, that got me to thinking...in 2000, I had CC debt, a balance on my mortgage and I'd just bought a new car. Best estimate is that I was at least $65K in the hole. Today, I am completely debt-free and at least am able to shovel a lot more money in the direction of those greedy and soul-less folks on Wall St. So that's something.

But you're right - worry is a habit. I need a new one... Don't worry, be happy!
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:39 PM   #73
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Well, what's the worst-case scenario? You lose all your savings/investments in some terrible market calamity and have to live in a trailer and survive on SS and what little income you may be able to find by sweeping floors part time.

There are people in that position and they deal with it. Some of them are even happy.
Well, hopefully I won't be living in the trailer. Recently paid off the house, so I plan to stay put!
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:42 PM   #74
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You might derive some benefit from Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It's a bit dated, but still worthwhile.
Excellent book - your post reminded me that I already have it. I got it out last night. Thanks for the reminder.

As Audrey said, worry is a habit - I need to re-read the book and remind myself of that more often.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:06 PM   #75
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We all have undesireable habits; but few are as self-destructive as worry.

Here's hoping that you will be able to educate yourself and obtain some relief.
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:29 PM   #76
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the book i mentioned (which was previously mentioned to me in this thread) Eckhart Tolle : A New World, can help with worriers as well... a lot of things in that book are effective when applied to emotions and thoughts like worry
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Old 12-24-2009, 01:12 PM   #77
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I do think my fretting over my ER plans is due in part to my not being convinced that anything has really changed on Wall Street. I'm doing my part, pouring in as much money as I can but I have this feeling that some very greedy and soul-less people are gambling with my money. It's not an up-front obsessive worry, more of a niggly-naggly back of the mind thing.
Well, I think you are probably right about nothing has really changed on Wall Street. But that doesn't really bother me too much, and I am retired and totally dependent on my investments. The best plan I have is to use mutual funds and be diversified across industries, asset classes, international, etc.

Sure Wall Street seems pretty crooked, but most of my investments are in US and international businesses, not in Wall Street directly. I'm also not happy about how much weaker shareholders are today compared to decades past, and how most professional CEOs set themselves up to enrich themselves at the expense of their shareholders. That, unfortunately, seems to be the consequence of investing trends today that own company stock through indirect, passive mechanisms like mutual funds. But since I'm not ready to become an activist shareholder and git after anybody, I choose to let it go.

But somehow, recognizing these issues doesn't cause me to experience bad feelings or worry. It's just the way it is.

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Old 12-24-2009, 01:23 PM   #78
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Excellent book - your post reminded me that I already have it. I got it out last night. Thanks for the reminder.

As Audrey said, worry is a habit - I need to re-read the book and remind myself of that more often.
Yes, I've been struggling with worry and anxiety recently, mostly related to my wife quitting her job a few weeks ago -- no discussion, no consensus, she just came home telling me she was having a particularly bad day and she quit -- after more than a year of looking for something. I've had some trouble sleeping lately, worrying that now if I lose *my* job we have no backup paycheck or health insurance.

I've been trying to find a lot of "self help" in this area and I've also taken to posting a passage from the Bible (Matt. 6:25-34) near my computer screen at my desk. It helps remind me that I need to let go of what I really can't change anyway...
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:19 PM   #79
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Generalized worry isn't any good and can be a habit that with work maybe can be overcome. Specific worries about specific issues can be different. You may feel disappointed to angry and mildly concerned to "lose sleep over it" worried, depending on the circumstances. In those kind of close to home situations I work on acknowledging that the weight is there, it makes sense, and instead thinking about it over and over again I try to put it in a mental room and shut the door for a while. Keeping busy helps keep the door shut.

Most discontent that I feel usually is a signal that I should be doing something different from what I am doing. But sometimes I live with a degree of dissonance.

FWIW.
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:23 PM   #80
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Yes, I've been struggling with worry and anxiety recently, mostly related to my wife quitting her job a few weeks ago -- no discussion, no consensus, she just came home telling me she was having a particularly bad day and she quit -- after more than a year of looking for something
Uh oh!

That does not sound right, but then your wife might have her reasons.
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