☝️ Upwarding #59: I’m back! And…Happiness x2, Lessons on Health “Surprises”, Raising the Bar on Taking Action
I began writing this newsletter the week of my 46th birthday, which was in July. Since then, I was diagnosed (and then treated) for Cushing’s Disease, which made me skip a few months. In theory, this should drive me to be LESS happy, but in fact, it’s ended up being a great year. It turns out we are really bad at predicting what will make us happy, for a whole bunch of reasons.
Speaking of happy…
This week I listened intently to Arthur Brooks’ recent interview with Peter Attia about “The Science of Happiness”. Lots of interesting tidbits, but the one that stuck out to me is that “enjoyment”, NOT pleasure, is one of three components of happiness. (For reference, the others are “satisfaction”, which is terribly hard to sustain, and “having a purpose outside of yourself”).
He wrote a separate (short) Atlantic article about it here. My view: enjoyment is pleasure PLUS the gratitude or metacognition to reflect on the pleasurable moment after it has taken place. Be sure to savor those great moments!
I’m going to be pivoting my health content towards Cushing’s disease and stress management under the new brand “TheCortiSolver.com”. Stay tuned!
A big lesson I learned during this journey – when you have 2 odd health results, it is likely a coincidence – but 3 is definitely worth digging into. In hindsight, once I had a cardiologist, an ophthalmologist, and a primary care doctor all say some version of “huh, that’s strange, I don’t really understand this” I should have immediately dug in.
I wrote an entire book about why you should invest your emergency fund in a simple two asset portfolio (instead of keeping it in a bank account) based on some natural relationships and 70 years of historical data. It was briefly an Amazon #1 bestseller.
Little did I know that real interest rates would go below negative 6%, so this year, my supposedly “safe” portfolio has returned negative 13%. Talk about a black swan! Mea culpa required.
I still feel that it is better to have your emergency fund invested, but this is a much larger drawdown than I thought possible. My evolved thinking: until you are 10%-15% overfunded, you probably need to have a larger allocation to cash than I previously believed.
In the meantime, I continue to be reminded how actively you have to manage your cash to optimize returns. Since I started this newsletter, at various times it has been best to put your risk-free cash in money market funds, no penalty CDs, muni money market accounts, and savings accounts. For the average high income California investor, you are now best off in Vanguard’s California Municipal Money Market Fund (after tax yield 1.85%). For the average income national investor, you are currently best off in high yield savings accounts like this one from UFB which yields 3.16% (after tax yield of 2.21%).
If you know the period you need your money, you can earn even higher returns in short term US treasuries (purchased directly from Treasury.gov or your brokerage) – returns are about 1% higher after tax.
“Unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond, don’t pursue it. It is too difficult.” – Joseph Campbell.
I’ve had a lot less energy during my recovery, so am thinking much more about “trimming” things from my life rather than adding. This quote is resonating strongly. I hope it does for you too.
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