A Test of Absence

One of my favorite authors is Gordon Livingston. In his book on love, he advises us to consider how others make us feel. I’ve extended the advice to consider more than just people (situations, types of food, language, daily actions, websites). I’ve changed my life by trimming little stressors in my life.

While I am aware of the trap of seeing the source of emotions coming from outside my mind, taking responsibility for the situations in my life has been both useful and empowering.

Another favorite author, particularly on business and investing, is Charlie Munger. Munger’s key tip is “always invert”. By this, he warns us to consider what-if the opposite happens. My chart two weeks ago on interest rates is one indication that I’m likely to see large, unexpected changes in my lifetime.

When faced with choices involving people (not always my strong suit), I mix and match Livingston’s and Munger’s advice:

  • How’s this situation making me feel?
  • How am I impacting this situation?
  • Inverting… How do I feel when I’m not in the situation?
  • Inverting… What impact can I have elsewhere in my life?

Each time I realize that I have a choice not to participate is a breakthrough. I can get caught up in emotional tennis – batting situations back-and-forth, without end, deepening a pattern of stress and conflict. Remembering that I have a choice to remove myself, or simply take a break for week, can lead to meaningful change.

Even when life is calm, I like to step outside my routine to gain perspective. My wife and I are going through a transition with our children arriving so this week we are taking a cybervacation and spending it with each other.

Our agenda is to discuss family strategy and consider how we would live if we knew we were going to die… …a trick question that I frequently ask myself.

Choose wisely.