At Varia (as well as related work at our law firm, Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP), we seek to help our clients through a unique approach that is designed to integrate our recognized knowledge and experience in business, finance and law with cutting edge insights from fields like positive psychology, social neuroscience, and behavioral economics. Our interest in this approach goes back many years as we began to appreciate the intersection between individual well-being, organizational culture and the “bottom line.” Readers interested in more fully understanding this approach might find this law review article of interest: (see: https://digitalcommons.law.buffalo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4655&context=buffalolawreview )
Given our professional efforts to promote individual wellbeing, it’s impossible not, at the same time, to think about the mental health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the sincere hope of helping, in some small way, address this crisis, we’d like to offer our readers the following suggestions taken from a book I co-authored with Bob Rich, Chairman of Rich Products Corporation, Secrets from the Delphi Café: Unlocking the Code to Happiness:
Cultivate a Healthy Lifestyle: An unknown author observed that “Your body will be around a lot longer than that expensive handbag. Invest in yourself.” You’ve heard it before, but that’s because it’s true. The relationship between a healthy lifestyle and a healthy outlook on life has been scientifically demonstrated. So… Exercise. Eat well. Sleep well. Find time to relax, whether it’s enjoying a relaxing movie, meditating, walking in the fresh air and sunshine or otherwise. And laugh. As Lord Byron wisely observed, “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
Remember to be Appreciative and Grateful. It’s easy—and understandable—to think about what we don’t have rather than what we do have. To complain rather than to enjoy the blessings in our midst. In Secrets, one of our characters observes, “I can lie here in bed and complain that it’s uncomfortable and the food is lousy…Or I can appreciate the fact that I’m surrounded by virtual strangers who are caring for me as if I were a member of their family.” How often have we heard that in today’s pandemic environment? As we look around, we can find so much to be grateful for: health care workers, first responders, strangers helping strangers. Aesop’s words from Ancient Greece remain as true today as they did more than 2,000 years ago: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
Be Patient. The protagonist in Secrets, Socrates Smith, notes that “appreciation is an antidote to the emptiness that comes from too much of a good thing. Or the emptiness that comes from the fear that we don’t have enough. Happiness rests on patience. The patience to let life unfold, to recognize that the greatest joys may come slowly or when we least expect them.” The world remains full of magical things. Be patient. Vaccines and therapies are being developed by brilliant scientists with new technologies and can be expected to be available in record time. If you are able to read this, you can discover a world that remains full of joy—even today.
Find and Live Your Passion. The crucial things in life are those that you feel most passionately about. Your Family. Your Friends. Your Journey. Take this time to reexamine how you are spending your time. And whether there is yet more for you to do with your life. Or even something different. It’s never too late. In the words of an ancient Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Be Curious. Another character in Secrets, describing the importance of living life with a sense of youthful curiosity, observes, “that’s what keeps life new and interesting. That’s what makes a person look forward to each day. It keeps you from falling into the rut of old habits of old ways of thinking. Unfortunately, too many people are afraid of trying something new—’New’ forces you to adjust, to adapt. Too many people are afraid of change. And that kind of fear just cuts off life. Can I do things differently? Will I succeed? These thoughts can scare people, make them retreat when they could be enjoying their new possibilities.” Now seems like a good time to recognize that the world has changed in some respects (but has also remained the same in many respects too) and, as a result, there will be new opportunities for all of us to check out as part of our life’s experience! So… Ttry something new. The possibilities are endless as is your imagination.
While Secrets opens by sharing an observation from St. Augustine, it seems more appropriate today to end this blog by sharing that here: “If we live good lives, the times are also good. As we are, such are the times.”
Notwithstanding the challenges created by COVID-19, you can still read great books, watch your favorite movies, talk with family and friends on video calls, exercise and explore something new that might lead to discovering a new passion. You can still build—or rebuild—your business, bigger and more successful than ever, with new technologies, new strategies and new relationships.
Yes, the challenges of today are real. But these times are also good.
About Varia: Varia was formed with the conviction that those who are responsible for leading businesses—whether early-stage companies, multi-generational family businesses or partnerships—could benefit from an organization that offered a suite of services that are not always easily accessible nor affordable. To that end, Varia has been built around three main pillars: a venture studio platform, an investment platform, and a consulting platform.
Varia’s consulting platform is designed to help our clients address a wide array of business-related needs, including succession planning, conflict resolution, team building, and even, through our various affiliations, family therapy. We enjoy providing these services in collaboration with our clients’ lawyers, accountants, wealth advisors, and other professional advisors whenever possible and appropriate.
By: Scott Friedman