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What I'm reading #40: How to build a happy life

By Sam Instone - October 07, 2021

A few weeks back I spoke about rituals.

As a high-performance individual, you have consistent behaviours unique to you.

They help drive well-being, fulfillment and success.

Cycling is one of mine.

What rituals have you created for your success?

I cycle to and from work every day even through sandstorms and summer desert heat.

This is how I both prepare for and decompress from the working day.

It provides time for listening to brilliant podcasts.

It’s also more economical, helps me do my bit for the environment and saves time in a traffic jam.

Good rituals are ‘consistent behaviours, intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled’.

My cycling is just a short ride each day but over time the effect compounds and really adds up.

Year to date, I’ve cycled over 11,000 km this year

Sam cycling distance

That’s the distance from the UAE to Canada.

By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have cycled the distance from the UAE to Antarctica!

A few days ago, I was featured in a BMC commercial.

It’s a real pleasure to be part of a brand family, a community and a city that keeps people safe and active.

You can watch it here.

One of the podcasts I listened to this week was How to Build a Happy Life.

The latest episode was on managing our feelings so they don’t manage us.

Negative feelings are a part of everyday life.

You don’t want to eradicate them – we need them, they keep us safe.

But how can we find a balance to manage them appropriately?

A few moments of stillness could be the answer.

I often talk about Warren Buffett – the greatest investor in the world.

But there are other great investors too such as Benjamin Graham and Jesse Livermore.

There are differences between these two legends, however, according to A Wealth of Common Sense.

Graham was the consummate long-term, bottom-up, fundamental investor.

Livermore was a trader who was only interested in price and trend.

Graham viewed investing in stocks as owning a piece of a business.

Livermore made $100 million in a matter of days shorting the market in 1929.

Graham was focused as much on risk as reward which was symbolised by his focus on a margin of safety.

Livermore was more reckless with risk which is why he made and lost his fortune on numerous occasions.

Despite their differences, their stories are lessons for today’s investors.

More in the blog.

Tony Isola shared a fascinating story on a Missouri lottery winner named Sandra Hayes.

She won the lottery in 2006 and split her $224 million winnings with a dozen co-workers.

Now a retired social worker, she wrote how Winning the Lottery Changed My Life.

It’s hard predicting what’s going to happen upon entering unchartered waters.

You don’t have to be a one-in-a-million lottery winner to experience similar results.

There are many surprises investors never expect from wealth accumulation.

Some good.

Some bad.

Carl Richards of Behavior Gap wrote about spending.

He says:

I’ve spent countless hours of my life talking with people all over the world about money. During these conversations, one theme comes up again and again. Anxiety.

Almost everybody has an idea of what their dream financial life would look like.

Almost nobody has a plan for how to get there.

Carl’s latest piece has a strategy that may help.

Lastly, I wanted to share this Barry Ritholtz piece.

Incremental changes occur at a very deliberate pace.

Winter snow melts, the runoff water follows gravity downhill, it washes away soil, then clay, and eventually, cuts into the bedrock itself.

Winter, Spring, snow, melt, year after year.

Hardly visible over decades or even over centuries; after a few millennia, barely the smallest of changes are noticeable.

But give it 5 million years, you end up with the Grand Canyon.

This is how the world changes, slowly, a little bit at a time - but it adds up. In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” a character is asked how he went bankrupt: “Gradually, then suddenly.”

The same thing happens with investing.

You probably have not realised we are in a golden age of innovation for investors and financial transactions.

All of these little changes over 50 years are hardly noticeable.

Changes compound, just as surely as dollars do.

The rituals you intentionally choose will determine the compound effect.


A question for you:

When was the last time you reflected on your life and acknowledged how far you’ve come?


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

“True life is lived when changes occur.”  – Leo Tolstoy


Sam Instone in BMC's commercial

The How to Build a Happy Life podcast episode 'Manage Your Feelings, So They Don't Manage You'

Ben Carlson's article 'Benjamin Graham vs. Jesse Livermore'

Anthony Isola's 'Financial Unintended Consequences Karma!'

Carl Richards on 'Don’t beat yourself up over spending… try this instead'

Barry Ritholtz's 'Gradually, Then Suddenly'