Easy for me to say, I know. Bombs, anthrax, lord knows what else. But I would respectfully suggest that you spend no more than half an hour a day worrying, for three reasons:

  • Statistically, the chances that anything will happen to you are very small. Get on an airplane, for heaven’s sake. Visit New York or Hawaii or any other place you’ve always wanted to go. You’ll have a great time, snag a bargain, and in your own small way you’ll be defying the terrorists. Could something awful happen? Sure. But that’s true every time you get behind the wheel of your car. (Have you seen how people drive in Boston?) More than forty thousand people are killed in auto accidents each year. And you actually leave your house?
  • Worrying doesn’t help. Yes, you should do the basics – stock your home with the same kinds of things you should have had all along, in case of a hurricane or an earthquake, a flood or an ice storm.
  • It’s almost an obligation that we enjoy life. Not to do so dishonors all those who struggled and died these past two centuries so that we might. I don’t mean we should ignore what’s going on. We should be better citizens than ever, informing ourselves and joining in a civil discussion of how best to meet the challenges. But to be worried and unhappy all the time? Bad plan.

I would not, however, be complacent about the stock market. At the very least, look at your investments and consider whether they offer compelling fundamental value. If you have no idea how to evaluate fundamental value, consider whether you should be picking stocks at all, or turning the job over to, say, a value fund like one of those offered by Tweedy, Browne, or else an index fund (fully prepared to dollar-cost-average down, if and as the markets fall further).

 

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