No joke—I think I just cracked a rib running!

Smoothly picking up speed, I glided down the running track earlier today, approaching a pace that I figured was equivalent to a 6 minute mile.

That was the goal:  to run a 6 minute mile.

After one lap, I doubled over, heaving from the effort.  And as strange as it sounds, I think that one 90 second lap cracked one of my ribs.

Four laps = 1 mile.

One lap = a cracked rib + pain = a bad attitude.

So my MG factor is running near the top of its spectrum.  What’s an MG factor?  It’s my scientific term for “Moaning and Groaning”.  I ache—and I’m not happy about it.

What I’m going to say next might be pretty controversial.  But I’m going to say it anyway:

People are born with an internal MG factor, and there’s not much they can do about that.  To summarize what psychologist Daniel Goleman suggests, we’re hard-wired to a degree of moaning and groaning—or a lack of it.  For some people, their MG factor puts them in the old Winnie-the Poo- “Eeyore” state most of the time.  No matter what’s going on in their lives, they complain.  They’re as much fun as an infected ingrown hair.

Based on what I recall of Goleman’s book Social Intelligence, each individual has their own range of happiness.  Imagine a factor of 100 being ecstasy, and a score of 50 or below representing depression.

Goleman suggests that people are going to operate within the same range no matter what happens to them.  Say you average a level of 75 on this fictional scale of mine.

Lose your legs in an automobile accident and, according to Goleman, within about a year, (after the initial emotional devastation) you’ll find yourself averaging close to 75 on the same scale.

Win the lottery instead, and after a year, you’ll find yourself operating at the 75 point level—just as you were before.

I remember when I first cracked $10,000 with my investment portfolio.  It was a goal of mine, and doing it felt pretty good.  But after a month or so, I was as satisfied with $10,000 as I had previously been with $8000.

Then I cracked six figures, and it was the same thing.

Seven figures?  Done.

There’s no more day to day satisfaction derived from having more than a million dollars.

I’m living within the same range of “happiness” that I was operating in 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago.

And I’m lucky.   I think my “happiness range” is higher than most people’s, so I can thank my “wiring”.

This week, at work, the topic of conversation on everyone’s lips pertained to a certain “roll-back” of financial benefits.  Really smart people were complaining about it, and I’m sure their moaning and groaning lessened the quality of their workweek.

But here’s the thing.  If those same people weren’t moaning and groaning about the financial roll-back, they’d be moaning and groaning about something else.  That’s just the way we’re wired.

It’s the rare person who can value what’s important, what isn’t important, and count the blessings of the things they have, rather than dwelling on the things they don’t have.

If you’re able to put things in perspective, perhaps you’re high on Goleman’s social intelligence scale.

I hope to join you—as soon as I stop bitching about this cracked rib.

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Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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3 Responses

  1. Karl says:


    In this respect, I think there's a difference between men and women. Men need to "fight" things more than women do. That "fighting instinct" manifests itself from our hunting and gathering (and physical fighting for survival) days. That's why men find things to be dissatisfied with. They're born to be contentious with others and with themselves, especially when there's no real "need" to fight in their daily lives.

    Women, on the other hand, are more satisfied and peaceful. Sure, some would like to pull your hair out by the roots and claw your eyes out, but the majority don't have to walk towards fights, whether internal (with themselves) or external (with someone else).

    Having children brings the fight to them. They don't need to go looking for it. It's pretty counterproductive to go looking for fights when their offspring brings it to them.

  2. Joe Chan says:

    Sorry to hear about your rib. Did you get clearance to run at that pace? I haven't run a 6 minute mile since college. But then you are in much better shape than I ever was.

    I finally took a look at the stocks and mutual funds in your contest. Some of the stocks in the portfolio were beaten down stocks ( Citi, AIG, Ford) but I think they will do well in the future.

  3. Hey Joe,

    No, I didn't get clearance to run at that pace. But I didn't ask either! My situation is pretty unique, and the doctor said that pain would be my indicator: if it hurts, I'm doing too much.

    As for those stocks, yeah, some people's view of what a terrible stock is going to be (in terms of future performance) might end up being somone else's view of a great value play. I guess that's makes the stock market tick: for a seller there's always a buyer with an opposing view.

    Do you think the "Loser portfolio" will keep pace over many years Joe? Or do you think the lead it took was just a short term thing?

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