Despite 2020, It’s a Benevolent Universe

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

This year is, thankfully, almost over. Yet for me, the universe just doesn’t seem to want to stop delivering sadness.

Earlier this week, I learned of the death of one of the investment world’s outstanding pioneers, and also the creator of the original iteration of the Successful Investing newsletter, Dick Fabian.

Dick was an independent man of action, and someone who created opportunity out of adversity. After suffering big losses in the bear market and recession of the early 1970s, Dick decided that there had to be a better way to invest and a better way to help investors protect their money from the kind of market that hit so many, so hard.

So, he sat down at his dining room table and began the process of thinking up a plan to track the wider trends in the market. It was there that he discovered that if you had owned shares in the market during periods when the domestic benchmark was trending above its 39-week moving average and, more importantly, if you were out of the market during the periods when that benchmark was trending below its 39-week average, you would have largely optimized your gains and minimized your losses.

It is this simple, yet brilliant, insight that allowed Dick Fabian to build one of the most successful, and longest-lasting, newsletters in the industry. And it is that same insight that his son, my friend and fellow investment guru Doug Fabian, continued to put into action in the service to help investors for decades when he took over the reins as editor.

Today, I am both humbly honored and proud to continue applying Dick’s brilliant insight and Doug’s expert stewardship to a new generation of investors through my leadership of Successful Investing. And whatever the new developments in the market may be, the heart of this service will always feel the distant beat of the man who sat down at the dining room table and subsequently created something from nothing via the power of his rational mind.

This kind of man is both rare and truly deserving of celebration. I know I will be honoring and celebrating his life today at his memorial service in Southern California, with Doug alongside members of the Fabian family and Dick’s many friends and colleagues.

The famous clergyman Robert South once said, “If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.” Well, Dick Fabian’s gift to the world was his brilliant insight, and for that, we all must bow our heads in gratitude.

Finally, the end of 2020 is just a little more than a week away. And I am sure this year is one that we’d all love to lose our collective memory of. Yet the fact is that society, at large, has prevailed, mostly intact, throughout another bout of pestilence.

And do you know why we prevailed?

It’s because humans are the most resilient and most successful species on the planet, and the reason for our success is our reason, i.e. our only tool of survival, our rationality. Remember this, and revere this, and know that you are part of an exclusive club that conquers the adversity of existence with the power of thought.

Also remember that while this year’s sadness and tribulations have tested our individual and collective mettle, the concept of what the philosopher Ayn Rand called the “benevolent universe premise” remains intact. What this means is that the universe and reality are “benevolent,” not in the sense that they are designed for humans in mind. They are not. In fact, I think the universe is entirely indifferent to humans.

What the benevolent universe premise means is that if we choose to think for ourselves, if we choose to adapt to the ever-changing nature of reality and if we act rationally — we can give ourselves the best possible chance to achieve our values.

So, despite sorrow, hardship, pandemic, loss, suffering and sadness — the benevolent universe remains — and now it is up to us all to choose our own happiness.


Stoicism and Life’s Flow

“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that — everything happens as it actually will — then your life will flow well.”

— Epictetus

The Greek Stoic philosopher teaches us a more literary version of the rather profound, yet much more pedestrian, adage, “Go with the flow.” Indeed, one of the keys to a life well lived is to realize that things will not happen as you want them to, and no wishing of any sort will make this so. Once you are firm in that knowledge, you can let yourself bask in the reality of reality — and you can begin to love life’s flow.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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