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The Glass – Half Full, Half Empty or Shattered…You Decide

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By George W. Mantor

RISMEDIA, August 4, 2009-It’s easy to be negative, but you don’t get much for your efforts.

Sure, times are tough. The future is uncertain. Our prosperity has been squandered, our country and our states are technically bankrupt, and those who still have jobs feel an odd mix of guilt and anxiety about their own situation.

On the surface, the future looks ominous; but, it isn’t. It’s just life happening. It’s just good old neutral, random chaos that doesn’t care what we want or what we planned.

For years, we have been deluding ourselves believing that we are all entitled to the perfect life just because we wanted it. The reality is that we are powerless to control many aspects of life.

The other night I was watching a network news story about an amateur astronomer who discovered that the planet Jupiter had recently been impacted by a body so large that it ripped an enormous chunk out of the side of the planet.

The moral is obvious. We are rocketing through space at a little over 63,000 miles an hour trusting that we stay in our orbit, but never really knowing for sure that beyond our view, something isn’t heading our way.

But, what to me was most revealing was what the news anchor said after the story. Almost apologetically, he said, “There doesn’t appear to be anything we can do about it.”

No kidding! But, it was like he felt we should, and seemed genuinely let down by a realization of our limitations. Fixing that hole would take a lot of Bondo.

The events beyond our control are neutral. They are neither good nor bad, positive or negative, right or wrong. It is purely our perception which colors these events. They only become negative when we judge them to be so.

Author Wayne Dyer has a great line…”When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”

Possibly, the most successful trait that a human can have is an ability to make the best of a bad situation, but that requires optimism.

When I was a year old my mother became ill with multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks young people in their prime of life. The symptoms and the prognosis tend to vary depending on the type or sub-type. The symptoms can be either progressive, eventually resulting in paralysis and death, or intermittent and remising. Some people make miraculous recoveries during periods of remission and carry on normal lives.

My mother experienced three remissions over a 15-year period. In between, there were lengthy hospital stays, paralysis, blindness, occupational therapy, wheel chairs, Canadian crutches that dangled from her forearms, and a cane. I still have a couple of welts from that cane.

Prior to being stricken, she was an outdoors woman, fishing and hunting right alongside my dad. Going from that to helplessness was particularly hard on her.

Fortunately for my sister and me, my mother was an extremely strong-willed and independent woman who was determined to do as much as she could for as long as she could. She battled back building the steel will that she would need.

Five years later, my father died. My mother was stuck in the middle of Northern Minnesota in a two-story lodge with no car, two little kids, and the nearest town 19 miles away. She was only 36 years old and, if she was scared, she never let on. We survived on my dad’s social security and veterans benefits, grew much of our own food, cut firewood, and, occasionally, my mother would bag a partridge or a pheasant with her custom made Browning over-and-under 20 gauge-a gift from my father a few years before.

The phone was one of those old wooden, wall-mounted boxes with a ringer crank on the side and an operating bell on top. It was a multi-party line and, if you wanted us, it was two longs and a short crank. In one sense, the challenges were as much a part of my mom’s recoveries as the occupational therapies.

When she couldn’t navigate the stairs on her feet, she would go up and down on her butt. That’s where the bathroom was. We all laughed about it, but she was amazing.

Unfortunately, one of the ravages of the disease is the psychological impact. Over time, her attitude was slowly eroded by the unrelenting challenges she faced, and she became increasingly pessimistic. I do not blame her for that, but it rubbed off on me.

Whenever I would share with her one of my plans or dreams, she would always say, “Don’t get your hopes up.” It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to do well in life, but she didn’t want me to be hurt or disappointed by what, in her paradigm, was already doomed to failure.

I did not set lofty goals or dream of a rewarding career. It didn’t seem remotely possible. I needed a job. Sometime in my early twenties, I began to realize that, not only could I do more, but that I wanted to do more. I began to see how my attitude had been holding me back. As my attitude evolved, my opportunities expanded.

Now, I bring this up because as a struggling optimist, I am frequently berated by angry pessimists. In fact, I seem to attract the rage of some folks just for giving off a hint that I might be optimistic.

So it was a recent article in which I described in some detail using true numbers, how the San Diego market is giving off hints of a rebound, and that certain circumstances were actually suppressing sales.

And that brought this email which I have not altered or edited…

george:

You are really stupid.

The case shiller index DOES NOT require that a home has been sold twice in a year’s time. A college freshman could find that information out quickly, but an idiot writing “buy now before all the homes are gone” can’t take the 30 minutes to understand the index before bashing it;

what a worthless article. I am sometimes so embarresed by the entire industry, academic honesty or even effort, not to meniton accountability are at the zero level, and your little fluff piece is one more example.

Sand diego’s rising unemployment, rising delinquincy on loans of all types, and heavy usage of option arm/pick a pay financing guarantee a return to falling prices in almost every class of housing, facts you manage to ignore in yet another biased piece of industry drivel.

Rob

Now, I don’t know Rob but I know he is angry. He’s so angry that he is seeing things that aren’t there and not seeing the things that are.

A review of the article, Catch 22 Artificially Suppressing San Diego County Rebound, proves that I didn’t say the Case Shiller Index only measured homes sold twice in a single year, nor did I say buy now before all the homes are gone.

So, obviously what set him off was simply that I found reason in the numbers to see the possibility of better times. Sure, we could still have a monetary melt-down, who knows?

And, who is to say for certain that, even if that happens, we might not all be better off in the long run. More important than what happens to us is how we respond. The Depression and World War II united all Americans in a common endeavor of effort and sacrifice, and might well have been our finest moment to date.

Perhaps, if these events cause Americans to unite in a similar way, who knows how bright the future might be?

One thing is for certain, if we focus on what we don’t have, we have nothing. If we focus on what we do have, we have it all.

George W. Mantor is known as “The Real Estate Professor” for his wealth building formula, Lx2+(U²)xTFP=$? and consumer education efforts. During a career that has spanned more than three decades, he has amassed experience in new home and resale residential real estate, resort marketing, and commercial and investment property. He is currently the founder and president of The Associates Financial Group, a real estate consulting firm.

Mantor can be reached at GWMantor@aol.com.

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