Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries

by Matt Quinn, CFA® September 2022

“Life is just a bowl of cherries. Don’t take it serious, it’s so mysterious.  You work, you save, you worry so, but you can’t take your dough when you go go go.”

The song “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, originally composed by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown in 1931, was recorded and made popular that year by Rudy Vallee and spent five weeks in the top 10 of the pop music charts.  The United States certainly needed some cheer that year, as the unemployment rate doubled to 16.3%, economic growth contracted for a second consecutive year, and severe drought conditions intensified in the Great Plains states.  We often look back to this decade, referred to as the Great Depression and Dust Bowl Era, as one of the worst periods in American history.  Little wonder the phrase ‘life is just a bowl of cherries’ is just as often related to an unpleasant experience as it is a pleasant one.

Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1921, my grandfather turned ten that year.  He is one of just a handful of people I have spent time with that lived through this decade.  Being interested in the economy and financial markets, I asked him several times what it was like growing up during the Great Depression.  He always looked back on that time in his life fondly.  The impression he left with me is he spent his pre-teen and teenage years mostly on the golf course playing the game he loved. When I look back on his life, no wonder his memories from those years are favorable.  I imagine they must have been much easier for him than the years he spent serving in Europe as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during WWII, discovering the German atrocities at Dachau near the end of the war, trying to keep a Rust Belt, family foundry business afloat, or recovering from the death of his wife of 60 years.

Along with his bushy eyebrows, the gap between his middle front teeth, and shapely legs, one of the traits I believe he was best known for was being an optimist.  He was an active member of the Northridge Optimist Club in Dayton.  Like many, you have probably never heard of an optimist club or its parent organization, Optimist International.  Yet a quick Google search indicates that there are 90 such clubs active in the state of Texas alone.  The mission of Optimist International is to provide hope and a positive vision to bring out the best in youth, our communities, and ourselves.  Their singular purpose is to develop optimism as a philosophy of life.  The optimist creed offers many words of wisdom, but perhaps my favorite point is the last, “Promise yourself to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”

Perhaps a better-known Ohio optimist that also lived through these difficult times was Norman Vincent Peale. He wrote the best-selling book The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952 largely based on his experiences as a minister working with his clergy to overcome emotions experienced during difficult times.  He urges people to become possibilitarians; “no matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights to see possibilities – always see them, for they are always there.”

Saying that something is possible doesn’t mean that it will happen, but that it can happen.  After all, many possibilities are outside of our control.  I believe a good possibilitarian will see the possibility of the things that are within their grasp and find a way to bring them to realization.  This is the beauty of working with a firm like Legacy Consulting Group that helps clients to establish life goals and create the path towards financial realization of those goals.  This ‘life reimagined’ is how we help our clients ‘bring their wealth to life’.  While there are obstacles that will of course get in the way, the right mindset helps to overcome these obstacles and to perhaps see them differently.  As part of our discovery process with new clients, we have a session devoted to brainstorming for possible obstacles and opportunities.  While our more pessimistic clients may see the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.  In other words, they believe good things can still come from a bad situation or environment.

Which brings us to our present day financial and economic environment.  Both are often mentioned as obstacles and opportunities in our discussions with clients.  We can’t know what is going to happen with the economy or the financial markets during any given day, week, or year, but we do know that taking the emotion of investing out of the equation leads to better outcomes.  One of my favorite Dave Ramsey quotes states that “money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. It’s what you do, not what you know.”  While we do our best to put together durable investment portfolios using our time-tested investment strategies and knowledge, our biggest job is to keep our clients in their seats when markets turn ugly.  While there may not always be opportunity in every difficulty, the key is understanding that good outcomes can still come from difficult events, and unfavorable shorter term market conditions won’t necessarily derail longer term goals and objectives.  As Steve has mentioned many times, Legacy Consulting Group has never had a client lose their financial independence due to market events.

So why am I talking about optimists and possibilitarians right now?  Because right now it seems particularly difficult to find good news out there.  Steve and I both remarked one morning last week that there was nothing good in the news that day.  Perhaps we need to dig a little deeper to see the good.  Or maybe in the absence of good news, we need to make the good news ourselves.  For those of you who are having difficulty seeing the good, we would encourage you to get out there and volunteer, mentor someone, serve, or give of yourself freely and stop focusing on the negative.  As Norman Vincent Peale would say, “the more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”

Beyond just finances, we also acknowledge that many of our clients are going through their own personal challenges and health-related issues right now.  For you, know that we are here for you and praying for you. We hope you find encouragement in these words and can find peace and joy in the precious things of life.  One of those things may be music.  See if you can find a version of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” that best suits you.  After all, “life is just a bowl of cherries.  So live and laugh at it all.”

Disclosures

  • Legacy Consulting Group is registered as an investment adviser with the SEC and only conducts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded from registration requirements. Registration is not an endorsement of the firm by securities regulators and does not mean the adviser has achieved a specific level of skill or ability.
  • Information presented is believed to be current. It should not be viewed as personalized investment advice. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors on the date of publication and may change in response to market conditions. You should consult with a professional advisor before implementing any strategies discussed.
  • All investments and strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve higher and lower levels of risk. There is no guarantee that a specific investment or strategy will be suitable or profitable for an investor’s portfolio. There are no assurances that an investor’s portfolio will match or exceed any particular benchmark.
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