A few months ago I read the book Progress by Johan Norberg. This book addresses some of the misconceptions we have about the world, in particular that the world is getting worse when things like poverty and infant mortality have improved hugely over the last few decades. One chapter focused on a study which assessed participants’ happiness levels on two occasions, one year apart. Two participants stood out. One had won a significant sum on the lottery shortly after the initial assessment and another suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident.
Despite what you might expect, both participants’ happiness levels were similar at each assessment. Of course, had they each been assessed immediately after these life-changing events, the results would have been very different. However, over the course of a year, they each adjusted to their new lives and their expectations changed as a result. Their happiness levels were relative to their individual situations rather than where they stood in the proverbial pecking order.
The book went on to explain that our happiness relates to whether we feel we are making positive progress in our lives. However, now that lockdown restrictions are getting tighter again and the days are getting shorter and colder, many of us will feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction.
Focusing on the Positives
Despite 2020 being such a challenging year, we all have things to be grateful for. By focusing on these we can remind ourselves what we’re striving for and in which direction we should be heading.
I must admit that I’ve been a bit grumpy as we’ve moved through the tiers and back into full lockdown but I know there are positives I should be focusing on instead. Despite numerous isolations during the first half-term back, both my children seem to have settled in at school after the six month break. It really does feel like a weight off our shoulders seeing Isabel and James happy and settled. We’ve also got a new puppy called Stanley who we all love. I feel a much happier person when I focus on the aspects of life in which I feel we’ve made progress.
It can sometimes be hard trying to find positives during difficult times. Many have had much more serious struggles during this pandemic including job losses, illness and tragically death. For those in such a position I just hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. Tough times can make us reassess what’s most important to us and reaffirm what we do have to be grateful for.
Not So Great Expectations
Whilst I would encourage us all to follow our dreams and shoot for the stars, it also doesn’t hurt to be realistic about our expectations of ourselves. We can only control our own actions and should be careful not to compare ourselves to our friends, neighbours and colleagues. It’s also easy to compare ourselves to who we want to be but this is always likely to cast us as failures as we undoubtedly come up short in one area or another. A better measure is to compare ourselves to who we were last year and recognise the progress we have made. There will always be an improvement or two to be happy about and use as motivation to continue in the same vein in future.
Our Team & Our Clients
I also feel lucky to be surrounded by such a great team here at Fyfe Financial with wonderful clients to serve throughout the year. It’s not been easy keeping everything running smoothly over the last 8 months, particularly with so little time spent in the office together. As a firm we’ve all worked hard to ensure that our standards didn’t slip and the service we provide remains as high as ever. It has also helped greatly that our clients have allowed us to embrace technology through this period with the use of video meetings and our online portal. Your flexibility and understanding has been greatly appreciated.
Christmas & the New Year
As things stand this could be a very unusual Christmas, particularly if lockdown measures remain in place. Whatever the position, I hope you are able to enjoy the day and I wish you the very best for a hopefully much calmer 2021.