I worry about the Dow.

Often, in the midst of work, I wonder how the Dow is doing—the way you might worry about an unsteady friend who reacts to every single thing that happens, or that might happen, and then gives you the math on how he’s feeling:

“I was up 10¼ points this morning, but now I’m just plummeting, down 728 points.”

We’ve all had days like that. How do you keep your head, given the ups & downs of your life?

The answer comes from a surprising source: financial advice. Here’s the key principle: think wide, think long.

1) Think wide: Open any financial guide and what do you read? “Diversify—don’t over-invest in any one company, industry or region.”

Unfortunately, you can still lose money, even if diversified. Perhaps it’s time to diversify out of “money.”

So how’s the rest of your life? Consider your career, your relationships, your health.

By looking at the broad sweep of your affairs, you compartmentalize any single problem.

In other words, diversify your portfolio of worries! Don’t put all your concerns in one basket.

2) Think long: Stock market pros advise against putting any money in the market that you’ll need in the next 5 years. Will you still be upset about the Dow in 5 years? How about 10 years?

Look back: do you remember what you were distressed about 5 years ago? How about 5 minutes ago? Most problems are temporary, not permanent.

“In the long run,” said John Maynard Keyes, “we’re all dead.”

Tip: Think about your problems—financial or otherwise—as being limited in space and time.


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