It’s easy to notice that Central Oregon is thriving once again. This was certainly supported at the recent Bend Chamber Real Estate Forecast Breakfast. All one really needs to do is take a stroll past the downtown restaurants, drive up to Mt Bachelor or see the numerous new hotels under construction to get a sense. Confidence is also high as the stock market continues to rally as it has already hit new highs in 2018.
As Central Oregonians continue to work diligently to increase their standard of living, I have also observed that many seem to feel less fulfilled. While striving to build prosperity for one’s family is a dignified ambition and I help guide my clients to do so, I think it’s also important to ask ourselves whether this path of accumulating possessions is truly leading to a life of contentment.
Most of us would agree that it is gratifying to have some of the niceties of life. While it’s fun to eat out at one of Bend’s fine dining establishments, purchase that new AWD automobile or take a well-deserved vacation to Baja, I also ponder whether having more is actually better. Does it truly bring greater happiness into our lives? I observe people who must work harder and harder to support their acquisitions, which generates a great deal of stress in their lives.
I recently read a story called “Life Is Like a Cup of Coffee.” This narrative has a powerful message that I want to share with you:
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups—porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite—telling his guests to help themselves. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups…And then you began eyeing each other’s cups. Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money, and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define or change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.”
Warren Buffett, widely regarded as one of the wealthiest and most successful investors in the world, says much the same thing. “The happiest people do not necessarily have the best things,” he asserts. “They simply appreciate the things they have.” He continues to live in the same house in the central Dundee neighborhood of Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500. He says that he has everything he needs in that house, which is not walled or fenced in. He preaches that we shouldn’t buy more than what we really need. He drives his own car everywhere he goes, having forgone a driver and security people. And although he owns the world’s largest private jet company, he always flies commercial airlines.
Like Buffett, I believe that one of the keys to life is living below your means in order to have the time to be happy. Another is finding a way to reduce your stress and increase your joy. We must also remember as long as there is coffee in this world─ and there is plenty of delicious coffee in Bend─ life is good.
David Rosell is President of Rosell Wealth Management in Bend. www.RosellWealthManagement.com. He is the author of Failure is Not an Option- Creating Certainty in the Uncertainty of Retirement and his latest book Keep Climbing─ A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Planning. Ask for David’s book at Newport Market, Sintra Restaurant, Bluebird Coffee Shop, Dudley’s Bookshop, Roundabout Books, Sunriver Resort, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
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