Coronavirus and the ­importance of gratitude

As I write this column on Day 12 of my quarantine, I'm reminded of a folktale about a farmer whose in-laws ask if they can move in with his family.

The farmer isn't sure what to do, so he visits the town elder. The elder advises the farmer to let his in-laws move in. When they arrive, the house becomes noisy and overcrowded, so the farmer visits the elder again. "Bring your chickens into the house," says the elder. The following day he tells the farmer to bring in the goats, and the next day to bring in the sheep.

Finally, it's too much: the chickens are laying eggs on the children's beds, the goats are eating the in-laws' bed, and the sheep are using his bed as a bathroom. Now, the elder instructs the farmer to move all the animals back outside.

As the last chicken is brought back to the coop and the house is tidied, the farmer is grateful for the quiet, comfortable, spacious house that he lives in with his family and in-laws.

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Feeling grateful during difficult times

It is easy to feel discouraged while we are locked in our houses, unable to go to work and barred from carrying out our normal routines. I find it helpful to be appreciative. I'm grateful for my family, our health, and that our house is a comfortable place where we can coexist. I'm grateful that this pandemic struck as the weather is warming up and that my kids can play on their swing set.

Because of the lockdown, I've received extra time with my 3- and 5-year-old sons that I would never otherwise get. The other day, my older son and I walked three times farther than ever before. And we got to do it only because there was simply nothing else to do. This morning I got to sit with my younger son while he woke up very slowly, when I would have typically been long gone to the office.

Of course I'm frustrated by the current situation, but I'm grateful for these unique gifts. And it helps me get through it.

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Getting your house in order

The situation is changing rapidly, and much will change between writing and publication. No matter the timing, the CDC is the primary resource for up-to-date coronavirus information (https://www.cdc.gov/corona virus/2019-nCoV/index.html). Similarly, many of us are under extreme pressure, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. The American Psychological Association is also providing relevant coronavirus support (https://www.apa.org/ practice/programs/dmhi/research-information/pandemics).

Some of this pressure stems from unemployment and financial distress. Everyone's situation is different, but there are universal principals for right now. Primarily, cash is king. With all the uncertainty, it is best to strengthen one's liquidity. For some, temporarily turning off their retirement contributions to boost savings could be helpful.

Because everyone's situation requires an individual solution, my current role is to brainstorm and provide advice to those with questions. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me in this time of need.

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Supporting those who need it most

My parents taught me the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate. Right now, there are so many categories of people who need our assistance: healthcare workers, the elderly, restaurant workers, grocery store employees, Title I school children, and the list goes on.

The distinctive aspect of these current times is that we're all in this together. Because of that, we will all overcome this together. We WILL overcome this together. Please, please, please, remember and support those who need our help at this time. And join me in expressing gratitude for all the little things.

Want to talk to Kyle about this or other topics featured in The Economic Blueprint? Please email him at kzwiren@financialarch.com or call him at 248-482-3622.

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Kyle Zwiren, J.D. works with Financial Architects, Inc., an independently-owned company located in Farmington Hills. He and his team serve attorneys and other professionals to help them design financial plans in line with their goals and based on optimal efficiency. He practiced law prior to becoming a Financial Architect and left the practice to follow his passion. He is a registered representative of and offers securities through The O.N. Equity Sales Company, Member FINRA/SIPC, Member FINRA/SIPC, 39395 W Twelve Road Suite 102 Farmington Hills, MI 48331 (248) 482-3600. Investment Advisory Services offered through O.N. Investment Management Company. Financial Architects, Inc. is not a subsidiary or affiliate of The O.N. Equity Sales Company or O.N. Investment Management Company.

Published: Wed, Apr 15, 2020