Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't Worry - Be Happy!

Apologies to those regular readers who've been wondering where I have been.  After conducting a successful whitetail population count in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving, I must have caught a virus on the airplane on the way home... within a week I had a bad cold...which for me usually means two weeks as it usually settles into my chest the second week which it did.   Usually I resist antibiotics, but after a self diagnosis of pleurisy which it was, I relented and took the antibiotics (after the Doc popped that chest rib back into place that I had coughed out of place).  All that took about another painful ten days and so...  here we are... not all better, but better than I was...

The first thought I want to post now that I am back is one that came from Paul Allen's autobiography "Idea Man", a book I read on the flights to and from Wisconsin.  Paul Allen, along with Bill Gates, founded Microsoft.  Despite all his success, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer, at the age just 29.  Fortunately for him, it was diagnosed at its earliest stage and he was able to beat it into submission. doing so, it taught him perspective about life.  Working with Bill Gates, a very focused and difficult person, had always been tense and Mr. Allen used this health challenge as a pretext to permanently sever the partnership.  For the first time in his life he began to travel, to act upon his many interests outside of the business.  Two years later, his father, an encouraging mentor throughout his life, died unexpectantly from a pulmonary embolism at the age of just 61.

Both of these experiences changed the way he viewed and has since led his life.  One of the most important lessons is that wealth, while very empowering, cannot control the way the world works.  Despite being worth some $13 Billion, owning the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks, and Octopus, the 9th largest yacht in the world as well as numerous other real estate and technology investments, Mr. Allen was again stricken with cancer in 2009.  He wrote in his book that...  "I've come to realize that many things happen at their own pace, beyond your control, whether it's the development of a young point guard or the trial of a potential Alzheimer's therapy.  I'm learning to less harried in anticipation and more accepting of each necessary, incremental step." 

He points out that YOU are in control of your own happiness and that happiness is all relative.  If you are not happy, then you should act to change the circumstances of your surroundings to become so.  But sometimes, due to circumstances beyond your control, you must find the happiness in the hand you had been given.  And that my friends, is a lesson all of us must learn.

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