We’ve just finished a lot of year-end planning with our insurance company Strategic Partners. The hallmarks of this year’s discussions have been bad weather, resulting losses and the market cycle. As you might expect, this got me to thinking…

For many of our partners this is the first really tough market they’ve experienced — and it’s confusing. Also, it’s frightening. Will we have something to sell when this is all over? Will anyone be able to afford to buy it? Will my competitors beat me every single time? What will happen to my income, business and employees? Will I survive?

These are serious questions.

But they all are the result of looking at a very, very short window of time and extrapolating the future based upon it.  This is, of course, no more realistic than projecting endless success based upon favorable market conditions. We tend to make the same error all the time, don’t we?

Recently, a friend has gotten me reading historical novels again. I love history, and fiction is a great relaxer. Reading is certainly more entertaining — to me anyway — than television. The novels I’ve been reading are about French, English and Irish history. They all started 10,000 or more years ago and followed families to the present time.

There are a number of fascinating things about that, but I have been struck by the realization that while our individual lives are pretty short, the themes of life are continuous. In other words, people seem to worry about the same things now as thousands of years ago. And the problems we face never seem to change.

That is very reassuring in a way. It tells that we are going to have periods of trial throughout our lifetimes because that is the way life is. We also will have periods of peace and prosperity. The issue isn’t adversity when it comes — it’s how we react to it.

Do we let it ruin our happiness? Depress us? Stop us in our tracks with dread or worry? Are we terminally anxious?

Or, do we live with confidence, knowing that the cycle we’re in — whatever it is — is just temporary and we’ll come through it? The lesson of history is that we’ll come through it — and that it’s completely our choice how. It really doesn’t matter that much what we do — good times and bad will always cycle through life.

What matters is how we embrace the times and relish — or not — the challenges we receive.  

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