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What's it all about?

Richard Russell snippet
Dow Theory Letters
posted Dec 24, 2009

Unless you're willing to "blow it up," you'll never be happy and get to what I call the "promised land." ...

December 23, 2009 -- The holidays are upon us and next week is the beginning of a new year. So I thought I'd share some of my recent thinking on "life" -- after all I've been around for a while.

Does anyone ever stop what he or she is doing and say, "Why am I working? What do I want? Am I doing what I want? Am I married to the person I want to spend my life with? Am I living the way I want? Am I living where I want? Did I really want kids? Do I love my work?"

In other words, what's it all about? There are many theories regarding why we are here. Do you ever wonder why you are on this earth? Is there a reason? Some people believe we've been here before (reincarnation). And that we're back on earth again to rectify mistakes that we made in our previous lives. In other words, we're here to learn.

Question -- Russell, you're supposed to be writing an investment report, so why the hell are you confronting us with all these questions?

Answer -- I wrote the above, because I've been asking myself those questions. Frankly, I don't see the sense of living a life unless you examine your life. The most basic questions are seldom asked. Why is that? Because it can be scary to examine one's life.

The three KEY questions that you can ask yourself or anyone else:

(1) What are you thinking?

(2) What are you doing?

(3) What do you want?

Tell me what a person really WANTS and I'll know as much about that person probably as much as I'll ever know. Ask yourself, "What do you really want?" Can you answer that? It's a very difficult question, and I don't think most people ever really ask themselves that question -- it's too specific, it's too blunt, it's too frightening because most people secretly are afraid that they don't have what they want, and that they'll never get what they want.

What about investing? Do you have a goal in your investing? Are you just trying to make money -- if so, what will you do with the money?

Or do you just want to be wealthy, just to accumulate wealth? And the hell with making money in the stock market. Suppose I gave you $10 million, would you bother with the stock market any longer? If you had $10 million, would you be satisfied?

As my oldest subscribers know, for many years I concentrated on the path of compounding my (and my subscribers') way to wealth. The compounding tables were my Bible. If you put aside $2,000 or $3,000 a year at 5% compound interest, in 50 years you'd be wealthy and rolling in money. Compounding through time was the royal road to riches.

But is that your goal? How about quality of life? How many people think in terms of quality of life?

Here I am. In July, I'll be 86 years old. I've been writing my thoughts to subscribers for over 50 years. Does that make any sense? Yes, to me it makes sense. Why? The answer is that I love to think, I love to express myself, and I love to extend my thoughts to other people (hoping that maybe my thoughts will do somebody some good).

I grew up in Manhattan, and I liked New York (according to many New Yorkers, only Manhattan is truly New York). But I hated the weather, and I had a problem. I was married to the stock market, and I never got outside my apartment. I never took a vacation. I longed to live in a pleasant land and climate where it might seem like a vacation year round.

After much study, I zeroed in on San Diego as the ideal place to live. Besides, I could follow my hobby here -- my hobby was growing Cacti and succulents. On top of all that, I felt NYC was becoming a less pleasant place in which to live. The year 1961 was the last year that I could park my car on the street without getting a ticket. That was the year when I packed up my family and moved to San Diego. My only regret is that I didn't make the move sooner.

Over recent years California has become high-tax-land. My feeling is that "to live in California you've got to really love it." I could save a lot of moola if we moved to Nevada or Texas. But then I ask myself, what am I working for except for a quality of life? I consider the quality of life here in San Diego to be the best in the world.

One time I was discussing "where to live" with a few clerks in a store, when an elderly man walked over. He said, "Excuse me gentlemen, but I overheard you talking about where to live. I was the captain of the Queen Mary. I've visited every port on earth, and I can tell you that San Diego and La Jolla are the best places to live that I've ever encountered." I never forgot what that captain said.

So what's it all about? What have I been writing about? For me -- my quest has been to examine and question my life and everything about it. I know it's frightening, but one can change, and one can learn. I've always believed that to make real changes, you have to be willing to blow something up. You may have to blow up your complacency about where you live, you may have to blow up your marriage, your job, the state where you live, the kind of food you eat.

Unless you're willing to "blow it up," you'll never be happy and get to what I call the "promised land."


Richard Russell
website: Dow Theory Letters
email: Dow Theory Letters

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