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Shiny objects can be bad…. but not always

“Shiny Object” syndrome is a situation where people tend to focus on an idea, event, or something new and perhaps trendy, only to lose attention when something else comes along. I suspect we all have this “disease” of distraction to some extent.

It’s no mystery that we find ourselves easily distracted. How often, as parents, did we use some sort of distraction technique to quiet a child acting up in a public place? How often did our parents use those same parenting skills on us? Not so long ago, I saw a child fussing and crying in a grocery store. An employee took a balloon from a nearby register and presented it to the child. The child was quickly distracted and almost immediately changed his behavior. As we saw recently in seemingly endless news coverage, using a balloon as a distraction works on adults, too, if the balloon is big enough.

When it comes to managing our investment portfolios, shiny objects can cause long-term damage.

It is too easy to find social media advertisements or flyers in the mail that offer advice on how to double or triple your money this year. Other claims of impending doom can cause investors to stray far from their strategy. It is always a good idea to consult with your financial advisor BEFORE committing to a “great idea.” Not everything you read about is a bad idea, though. It’s best to have a discussion to determine if it may be appropriate for you. It’s important to neither over nor under-diversify based on a finely crafted advertisement.

Sometimes I think shiny objects can have a benefit…assuming it’s more than a shiny object.

We all know someone who is going through or has gone through a difficult time. Illness, loss of a loved one, and other life-changing events can occupy the mind to a point where it adds to the problem. Distractions from stress can be beneficial to let the mind relax, even if for a short time.

When we have conversations with people who are having a difficult time, we (I) often say, “let me know if there is anything I can do .”While we may mean what we say, the person hearing this typically responds with a simple thank you but does not know immediately what can be done. Nothing is wrong with this, but I suggest you say something like, “I’m going to pick up dinner and come by for a bit if that’s ok.”

I recently read an article by Pamela Myers published by Child Development Institute. The article talks about the importance of families having meals together. While it is intended to show the benefits of having mealtime together and the positive impacts on children, some benefits can apply to anyone needing a break from troubling issues.

Sharing a meal provides an opportunity for having conversations and offering encouragement.

The process of preparing a table to serve the meal can provide something resembling normalcy. The meal gives much-needed human contact and a comfortable environment for conversations. I have found these conversations often reveal a need you can easily address. Although it may seem very simple to us, it presents itself as a monumental task to the person burdened by so many other things. Something as simple as changing a hard-to-reach light bulb can literally and figuratively brighten someone’s day.

Sharing a meal is not the only thing you can do to help. A host of articles exists on how you can assist someone in need. Think of an action rather than just words.

You probably shouldn’t try to “fix” the problem. Remember, just being someone’s shiny object for a couple hours can pay big dividends to both the person giving their time and the person receiving it.

March 2023



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