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The Practical Effect of Optimism and Pessimism

Helen Keller | BIGG SuccessHelen Keller wrote a wonderful letter on optimism. We found it over on The American Foundation for the Blind site.

It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth the reading. In this post, we’ll share one particularly interesting passage.

FYI: We’re going to share more thoughts on this piece in an upcoming newsletter. Subscribe today and you’ll get it!

The human spirit overcomes physical limitations

She talked about Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, the founder of the prestigious Perkins School for the Blind, where Helen Keller was educated by Anne Sullivan.

She is discussing his work with Laura Bridgman. She was the first blind and deaf student in America to be educated in the English language, preceding Helen Keller by about fifty years.

With that background, here is Helen Keller in her own words:

“Dr. Howe found his way to Laura Bridgman’s soul because he began with the belief that he could reach it. English jurists had said that the deaf-blind were idiots in the eyes of the law. Behold what the optimist does. He converts a hard legal axiom; he looks behind the dull impassive clay and sees a human soul in bondage, and quietly, resolutely sets about its deliverance. His efforts are victorious. He creates intelligence out of idiocy and proves to the law that the deaf-blind man is a responsible being.”

She continues, “When [Howe] offered to teach the blind to read, he was met by a pessimism that laughed at his folly. Had he not believed that the soul of man is mightier than the ignorance that fetters it, had he not been an optimist, he would not have turned the fingers of the blind into new instruments.”

She closes this passage with a quote that really grabbed our attention:

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

On the other hand, there is the optimist. She says:

“The optimist believes, attempts, achieves. He stands always in the sunlight. Some day the wonderful, the inexpressible, arrives and shines upon him, and he is there to welcome it. His soul meets his own and beats a glad march to every new discovery, every fresh victory over difficulties, every addition to human knowledge and happiness.”

The optimist finds BIGG success!

Image in this post from wikimedia

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These People Just Do Not Get It

optimists There is a group of people that most people just don’t understand. They face the same problems we all face …

… but they just don’t get it. They don’t get how bad these problems are this time around.

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When they listen to the news, it’s the same news we all hear.

But they just don’t get it … how bad the news really is.

They have the same concerns for themselves and their families that we all have. But there is one difference between this group and the majority of people …

They think their lives are going to get better this year! The future is bright. So bright, they probably wear shades! They think the economy will turn around.

And there’s a startling number of Americans who think this way. In fact, according to a recent survey, more than one-third of all Americans are in this group. And only one out of five people said they worry about the economy on a daily basis.

Are they tuning out?

So what do you think? Are these people who think their personal situation will improve this year nuts? Or do you think they’re onto something? Or maybe they’re on something?

Here’s what they may not be on … they may not be reading, watching, or listening to the news! Bad news does seem to be good news to the news media. We’ve spoken with a large number of people over the last month or so who say they’ve tuned out the news.

Sometimes that’s a good coping mechanism. If you’re tired of hearing gloom and doom, it might be more productive to focus on something more positive.

Challenge spells opportunity

We put ourselves in this group of optimistic people. We think things will get better this year. That’s not to say we won’t still see some hiccups, but it appears that there is significant strength just below the surface.

While we face some major challenges right now, that spells opportunity for bigg goal-getters. But don’t expect to win a spelling bee if you spell it that way!

Getting real

The article we mentioned earlier cites some of the benefits of being an optimist. On average, optimists get sick less, live longer, and appear to have a higher quality of life.

This is consistent with other research we’ve seen on the benefits of being an optimist. Seeing the glass half-full does seem to pay off. But while it’s important to look for the silver lining in any dark cloud, and we don’t think it pays to be pessimistic, we also think that we should be realistic.

We have to sort through all the information in front of us to try to determine what the objective reality is. To make sure that our perceptions aren’t creating a bias as we look at a particular situation.

Because we’re more likely to make mistakes if we’re overly optimistic. We’ll see opportunities that aren’t really there. And unfortunately, we must admit that we’re speaking from experience here.

But pessimists miss out on opportunities because they either don’t see it or they don’t act on what they see.

Bigg goal-getters are an optimistic group. While one-third of the people in this survey said they think things will get better this year, we bet that the overwhelming majority of our community would put themselves in that category.

And that’s a good thing … as long as we filter our optimism with a healthy dose of realism. Be positively real. That’s the recipe for bigg success!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we discuss why you should stop trying to fit into the world. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Smart Investors, Tough Times

investing People who find joy in bad news have to be pretty happy lately. The financial crisis has dominated the news, as we watch Wall Street and Washington scramble.

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We don’t usually do this – in fact, we’ve never done it in the 230 shows we’ve done so far. But this subject is so important and so timely. So we want to share some valuable information that our newsletter subscribers received in their In boxes last Friday.

In the last edition of The Bigg Success Weekly, we discussed “Profiting from Panic”. It was about maintaining the proper mindset in the midst of all this turmoil.

We started with the safety net that exists for depositors, investors, and insureds. Here are some links directly to pages that can answer your questions about banks, brokers, and insurers in a hurry. 

Banks

In general, banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, not all money invested through banks is insured. What would happen if your bank failed? If you have accounts with a failed bank, what should you do? How can you obtain a release of lien, if a failed institution is your lienholder? The following links provide the answers to all of these questions:

What is the FDIC

A Guide to What Is and Is Not Protected by FDIC Insurance

FDIC Bank Find (make sure your institution is FDIC insured)

When a Bank Fails- Facts for Depositors, Creditors, and Borrowers

Is My Account Fully Insured?

Obtaining a Lien Release

Brokers

Accounts with brokerage firms also offer some protection through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). The coverage isn't anything like that offered by the FDIC, but it's still important to know what remedies might be available to you. 

How SIPC Protects You

Insurers

While banks and brokers have federal backing, insurance companies have backing through associations at the state level.

The National Conference of Insurance Guaranty Funds

If your insurance company fails, you'll want to contact your state's Department of Insurance, since insurance companies are overseen by that department in each state in which they operate. Click here for a directory of each state's office. 

Your State's Department of Insurance or Guaranty Association

Two billionaires, two eras, one mindset

Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world according to Forbes, recently invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs, in the midst of all this turmoil. That’s pretty typical of how he’s made his fortune – he says he’s “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

He has also opined, “We want to do business in [a pessimistic] environment, not because we like pessimism but because we like the prices it produces.”
 
From: The Warren Buffett Way: Investment Strategies of the World’s Greatest Investor, by Robert Hagstrom, Jr. 

Warren Buffett is not alone.

J. Paul Getty was one of the first billionaires and the richest man in the world in his day, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. He said, “I began buying stocks at the depths of the [Great] Depression. Prices were at their lowest, and there weren’t many stock buyers around. Most people with money to invest were unable to see the forest of potential profit for the multitudinous trees of their largely baseless fears.”

He went on to say that he made over 100 times his investment on many of these stocks!

From: How To Be Rich, by J. Paul Getty.

Our best strategy

So we can learn from these two men that we shouldn’t panic, even in turbulent times. Now, you may not want to rush out and buy a bunch of stocks. However, you probably shouldn’t sell out right now either.

These two billionaires made a fortune by going against grain. So keep making those 401(k) contributions. By investing consistently over time – paycheck by paycheck – you’re dollar-cost averaging into the market. In bad times, you’ll buy more shares with the same money than you can in good times – just like the billionaires. 

Above all – diversify, diversify, diversify. Diversification is one of the four key investment principles, according to William Sharpe, a Nobel Prize winning financial economist. Our newsletter subscribers read about these as well as some ideas to simply put them into practice.

Today, more than ever, it’s important for you to take on the role of Chief Investment Officer for you and your family. You can’t count on Wall Street or Washington to do it for you!

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If you would like to get the newsletter we’ve referred to here, just e-mail us: bigginfo@biggsuccess.com, with “Profiting from Panic” in the subject line. We’ll send it to you and sign you up for The Bigg Success Weekly!

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Next time, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to move beyond personal productivity. Until then, here’s to your bigg success! 

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Related posts

Why Your Brain May Not Be the Best Money Manager

Getting Aggressively Passive: Creating A Passive Income That Sets You Free

Recession Progression

Warren Buffet’s Single Piece of Wisdom

Want to be a Millionaire? Here’s How to Think Like One

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Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?

By Bigg Success Staff
03-26-08

Test Yourself

question_mark 

The good people at About.com have developed a great quiz to find out if you’re an optimist or a pessimist. You can actually choose between five quizzes. The full version is only 15 questions and will take you less than 5 minutes.

When you’re done, you’ll get a question-by-question summary, showing whether your answer is optimistic or pessimistic. You’ll also get a final score – and you’ll know how you rate overall.

So go ahead … take this quiz. Unless you think something bad is bound to happen if you do!

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Don’t Put Off Taking This Test