As I was travelling through beautiful Bali a while back, a taxi driver said something very interesting to me when we were doing the usual good natured haggle over rate. The exchange rate at the time was roughly 10,000 Indonesian rupiah to a single New Zealand dollar. I was reminded of his words the other day when life threw me a few unexpectedly stressful curveballs.
He said "money very big, but amount very small". Which was kind of cool. Because to go where I was going was a hundred thousand rupiah. Which sounds whooooooaaaa! A hundred thousand! Whaaaaaattttt!!! But actually that was just 10 measly little bucks.
Maths done, handing over hundreds of thousands became absolutely fun.
As you know, when you go overseas once you get the perspective and do the sums it's amazing how the money number transforms from whooooooaaaaaaaaa to being almost insignificant. Divide by a thousand and laugh.
Wouldn't it be interesting if our worries were the same way? The stuff we get stressed about.
The stuff we turn over in our minds and cannot get to sleep because our mind just will not be still? The nagging worry that follows us around like a grey shadow. What if with a little magic of forex perspective we could do the same trick? Could we divide by a number to reduce the stress today?
If you are a regular reader of this column you will have heard mention before of my much-loved grannies. One lived until she was a sprightly 97. And the other to a pretty epic 103 (yes, you do indeed get a telegram from The Queen at 100, but, it's actually more like a greeting card with a pic of HRH on the front. You get the same card at 101, and 102 and 103. It's a nice card). These amazing women, who lived two centuries between them, went through two world wars. They lost husbands. They lost brothers and fathers.
They both lost young children. They made do. They made ends meet on next to nothing.
They raised families. Their lives were a pattern of ordinary and precious joys as well as some very real hardships. They were born in a time when the Titanic went to sea, and died when their great-great-grandchildren were using I-pads to play Angry Birds. That's a lot of perspective. A hundred-year view.
So I tried looking at some of my worries and saying: "When I consider this over the course of my life, over a hundred years, how big is this problem that is stressing me out right now, really? Will I even remember it 10 years from now?" When I apply the power of that perspective, it's the magic forex equation. Some stresses and strains seem almost insignificant, laughable that I should be stressed even. The worry factor reduces just like that.
Of course there are some losses in life that this formula is not going to address, some truly painful losses that will live in our hearts and souls throughout our life however long that may be. But for everyday stresses and strains, the really annoying bits and pieces that drive us to distraction, if you apply the forex formula and ask: "When I consider this over the course of my life over a hundred years, how big is this problem that is stressing me out, really? Will I even remember it ten years from now?" you will find that many of your worries simply melt away. "Money very big, but amount very small", indeed.
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