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During numerous client meetings over the past few years, I’ve noticed that despite the generally good news we’ve shared, clients’ stomachs seem perpetually tied up in knots. It’s no wonder. Not that long ago the only news worth paying attention to involved a quick read of the morning newspaper (mainly, the baseball scores) and about 30 minutes for the evening news on television. Now, taking in the 24/7, firehose-fed barrage of news/opinions is like eating from Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get — and ingesting too much will lead to an upset stomach. Consider these recent headline topics:

  • Taxes – The 2017 tax bill reduced them, but check because in your particular case maybe not. And even if they are lower, a future change in control of Congress could see a reversal. And even if that doesn’t happen, the rules will expire by 2025 anyway.
  • North Korea – After engaging in a spitting contest about whose nuclear button was bigger, suddenly we were advised that a summit meeting was on … then off … then on again.
  • Tariffs – First significant tariff increases are threatened, then put on hold while we talk, then just as suddenly implemented while we’re still talking.

So much to watch and worry about while enduring the daily whiplash between good and bad news. It’s enough to drive a person mad.

Recently, through a happy coincidence, I rediscovered a life philosophy that seems perfect for today’s world and is perhaps a simple solution to this dilemma. Let me explain.

During my youth, while my friends were busy collecting Archie Comics, I was hoarding Mad magazines. I secretly squirreled them away in the room my brothers and I shared, reading them over and over, always away from the disapproving eyes of our mother. Life was pretty simple back then. My whole world consisted of keeping up my grades in school, doing my daily chores, fighting with my brothers, playing baseball, and hanging out with friends. Not a lot to worry about, certainly nothing from the newspaper or the nightly news. Life was sweet and I was truly happy.

As we become adults, we forget how to live like that.

Fortunately, I recently ran across a current edition of Mad magazine in a grocery store, which led to my rediscovery of the following childlike outlook on life, one that I encourage others to adopt as well:

“What, me worry?”

(The title of this article is the rough Latin translation of this.)

This, of course, is the mantra of my new personal guru, Alfred E. Neuman, the mischievous, funny, and at times idiotic character who adorns the cover of almost every Mad magazine edition since the beginning (circa 1954). I’m convinced it’s the best philosophy with which to deal with life and all of the uncertainties we face today.

MAD Magazine

(Despite rumors to the contrary, no this isn’t a picture of Prince Charles at age 9!)

Just consider how powerful Mr. Neuman’s viewpoint can be. For example, first the stock market is up, then it’s back down. Old philosophy = antacids. New philosophy = let’s go get some ice cream! The Affordable Care Act is dying a slow death. Old philosophy = heart palpitations. New philosophy = I’ll have another glass of wine, please! See how easily his outlook handles a variety of problems?!

I’m not being smug or burying my head in the sand. Having put into practice the same work we do at B|O|S for all of our clients, my wife and I know that our investment portfolio incorporates several strategies that help it navigate very ably in good times and bad and that we have planned smartly for potential risks, taxes, retirement savings, and our children. We can’t control markets, natural disasters, world affairs, or others’ Twitter messages, but we have employed solutions to address almost everything else important to us. Why worry about the rest?

I’m so taken with Mr. Neuman’s philosophy that I’m thinking about starting a campaign to encourage him to run for President in 2020, as he has done several times since 1956. His campaign slogan back then still works today: “You could do worse … and always have!” Those big ears mean he’s got to be a better listener than our current batch of politicians. America truly couldn’t do better than to elect him. Some say we already did.

If you want to learn more about this philosophy, you should start at the source — read the magazine. I guarantee there will be laughs (some juvenile, but still funny) that will help relieve the stresses of daily modern life. From my viewpoint, a one-year subscription for $19.99 is a veritable bargain compared to the prescription prices for antianxiety or panic disorder drugs.

So now, whenever family or friends ask my professional opinion about the wild gyrations in the stock market, Washington’s wacko politics, or our topsy-turvy world, I just smile and say, “What, me worry?” You should, too, if B|O|S has the privilege of working with you.

Filed under: Opinion

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