Country Song Wisdom and Other Surprising Realities
Many of you are probably familiar with Zac Brown Band. Their song “Chicken Fried” is one of the wisest songs that I’ve heard. Consider these lyrics:
And my house it’s not much to talk about
But it’s filled with love that’s grown in southern ground
. . .
I like to see the sunrise
See the love in my woman’s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother’s love
. . .
It’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive, or the price tags on your clothes
There’s no dollar sign on a peace* of mind this I’ve come to know
The last line hits me hard time and time again. You’ll notice the ‘*’ after the word “peace.” Most sites that list the lyrics for this song write it out as “There’s no dollar sign on a piece of mind . . .” and maybe they’re right. But I like to think of it from the sense that you can’t put a dollar sign on “peace” of mind.
Because that’s about as true as anything else out there.
A few nights back I was thinking about my financial planning and investment management firm and the impression came to mind that the richest and deepest experiences in life, those things that create the most meaning, are not achieved by earning the next dollar beyond your needs.
Sure, no doubt about it that there are cool things that can be done with money. But the truly fulfilling things in life aren’t bought or sold.
You are probably focusing on the wrong things.
Deep down you and I both know that once our needs are taken care of, i.e. we aren’t hungry, we live in a safe place and have shelter, we have friends and family, and we aren’t worried about paying for car repairs when it breaks down, an extra $5,000; $50,000; or $500,000 isn’t going to make us any happier.
Yet much of our lives are spent in pursuit of the next dollar.
To make matters worse, the fabulous technology of our day—with its sounds and shiny lights—often creates a barrier between our connecting with the people closest to us. We’ve become experts at having insignificant relationships with significant numbers of people while neglecting those relationships of most significance.
To be fair, technology can also enhance relationships that are important. My siblings and I enjoy talking on Google Hangout while playing a game of risk. It helps us stay in touch, even though we live hundreds of miles apart.
But go into any restaurant in America and tell me if you think people are very good at managing their technology, or if technology is managing them.
It’s not too late to focus on things that matter.
The good news is that it’s not too late to pivot and reset your life so that you focus on those things that bring you happiness. You’re going to have to develop a skill that few people know and even fewer have taught: listening.
Except this time, you’re going to need to do some listening to yourself. That way you can figure out what brings you fulfillment in life.
Here are some things that I’ve found make life richer for me:
A meaningful conversation with friends.
A card game with family.
A bbq with my brother.
Love and peace at home.
Chasing my giggling two-year-old.
Playing catch with my kids before they get on the bus.
Coaching soccer in my community.
Learning something new.
Connecting with God through prayer.
And yet, I continue to struggle with listening to myself. Sometimes I eat even though I’m not hungry and it leaves me feeling discouraged. Other times I turn on Netflix, even though I know there’s nothing I’m interested in watching, and that I feel useless afterwards.
This is something that takes time and work. But with all things that you focus on, you’ll get better at it over time.
Some final thoughts.
Being a financial advisor, much of my time is spent thinking about money. I recognize its usefulness, its importance, and also the devastating consequences when people make it their god. I say this with the knowledge that far too often I’ve bowed down at the idol of money.
To live, to care for our loved ones, and to provide “a better life” for our children, we need to learn how to use it. I encourage you to do so.
But I also offer the recommendation that you make sure that your time, energy, and effort are directed towards those things that really do matter the most.
So don’t forget country song wisdom. Because sometimes, yes sometimes, it’s true.
The content you just read is for informational purposes only. Yes, I’m a financial advisor, but this article really isn’t intended as advice for you specifically. Your unique situation needs to be taken into account, and the ideas presented here may not apply.
So, please make sure you do your due diligence BEFORE implementing anything. Due diligence includes hiring a qualified professional who understands your situation completely and can offer you personalized advice.