Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Importance of Happiness

That beautiful young guy is Nate, the youngest of our grandchildren. Oldest son Steve's great photo captured a sheer joy that cannot be conveyed in words.

A recent blog post took a look at various forms of negative self-talk and their consequences. Simply reducing negative emotion, however, is not what brings access to energy, creativity, and the ability to sustain directed effort. For that, we need well-being: frequent experiences of happiness, life satisfaction, psychological and physical energy, and closeness with others. (For background on the important topic of psychological well-being, check out this earlier post.)

Happiness is a state that results from the affirmation and attainment of our values. Happiness is more than simple pleasure: it is an experience of fulfillment. Much suffering in life comes from the attempt to wring happiness from pleasure. All the food, parties, purchases, and holidays in the world cannot duplicate the experience of realizing a lifelong goal.

There are many ways in which people attempt to counterfeit happiness. Everyone needs some element of challenge, stimulation, and meaning in life. When those are not generated through positive goals and ideals, the drive for life purpose becomes distorted. We become enmeshed in personal problems and squabbles; life's stage shrinks, and we enact petty drama.

Maslow recognized: neurotic conflict is a twisting of the search for meaning, purpose, and actualization. We will always find summits to climb: some authentic, others less so.

Therein lies the appeal and the danger of markets: they can be arenas for self-development and mastery, or they can become battlegrounds for enacting our worst fears, insecurities, and conflicts. They can bring the kind of happiness on Nate's face, or they can bring considerable suffering.


Bob said...

I enjoyed this post, thanks for all the time you've devoted to this blog.


Michele said...

Congrats on the newest addition to the family. He's a cutie! And thanks for another great reminder of what's really important in life. Thanks to your encouragement, I've finally started a regulat trading journal (and kept it going). I have an entire section in it devoted to clippings from your blog, and this one is definitely getting saved.

If anyone is interested, I recently started using OneNote and found it to be very handy for journal keeping.

Swingtradingideas said...

Your comments are always very informative and thought provoking. They are like pearls of wisdom.It reminds us all that life is a journey and one should enjoy each moment of it.

GD said...

That's a nice looking kid, Dr. Brett!

Michelle B said...

Nice hat! (The kid is OK too).

OKL said...

The Doctor's a Grandfather!

*No wonder he's beginning to sound like one*

-Plays Keyboard Cat-

Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Excuuuuse me, OKL! This doctor is a grandfather six times over!

(He says as he listens to his grandpa music:


StockFiend said...

I enjoy reading your blog thanks for all the info.

Charles Duran said...

A wonderful photo, and a toast to the pleasure of the energy of life.

I enjoy, very much Dr. Steenbarger, your blogs on trading and your writing in general, however, this paean you have written on the satisfaction that is to be achieved in seeing life in a positive sense and following "authentic" goals is a disappointment.

Allow me to help you get your head out of the warm and comfortable sand. Life is pain and suffering, except for the delusional and then, only with the great effort it must takes to maintain that illusion.

The "authentic" path to life is the biological need to survive. procreate and expand. We are far from optimal designed for happiness much less contentment. The proof of this statement is in our history.

Perhaps, if you like, you could tell us all how it achieve happiness.

This is written without rancor, just little regret. Charles

OKL said...


That was some grandfather music Doc!

I thought Grandfathers are supposed to be peaceful blokes, sitting on deck and sippin tea, reading the papers and laughing at the latest politician's hoohah, watching his kids moan about their life, enjoying the picture of kids running around in the backyard, listening to babies cry upstairs... and listening to John Lennon!


Aye, the Doctor is blazing trails!

Holy cow... Six!

My goodness... what population problem? LOL

*Cheers to a good 50+ years... and bring on the next 30!*

Jay said...

Nice pic, Doc, I though it was one of those professional ones that you find when you look up a search on 'joyous child.' images will probably list it ;)

I have used trading as a personal growth catalyst. I've been on that path for years anyway and have been making progress.

Whenever I would take the tests for personality, if you should be a trader, I scored low. But some of the things required were things I aspired to already. So I used them as goals and in this year and a month, I am not only a different trader, but the achievements are permanent enhancements to my personality that benefit me in all areas of my life.

You stress conscientiousness in 'The Psychology of Trading,' as the main trait in a good trader and I had it but not to the degree I do now and you can't become more conscientious in one area without applying in others, a nice side effect.

I have written 300 pages of journaling and notes and worked thru many additional issues and lightening my load of dysfunctions has definitely allowed the more positive feelings thru in all areas. -NQTraderJay

karim said...

Good one on happiness and it helps a lot.

Karim - Mind Power