Friday, February 19, 2010

Happiness, Health, and Quality of Life

An interesting prospective study found that people who reported high levels of positive emotional experience were significantly less likely to develop heart disease than those with lower levels of well-being. This fits with findings that happiness is associated with lower levels of illness and longer lifespans. It also fits with research that finds depression as a significant predictor of heart disease.

Michael Frisch, Ph.D., a graduate school colleague of mine when I was at the University of Kansas, has written a book on Quality of Life Therapy: techniques for expanding happiness and life satisfaction. Three "pillars" of this work, he explains are:

1) Inner Abundance - This relates to self-care and maximizing one's energy and internal resources;

2) Quality Time - Time spent by oneself, for oneself;

3) Finding Meaning - Having goals that give purpose and significance to life.

The key idea here is that happiness is not just something that happens to people. It is the result of one's relationship to oneself.

I encounter many traders who lack a sense of abundance--they are forever fearing that they will miss market moves and opportunity. I find many traders that lack quality time: they are slaves to the screen and experience more frustration than joy in their efforts. I also see many traders who derive little sense of meaning and purpose in their work. If they're not making money, they are not happy.

Conversely, I encounter very successful traders who find no lack of opportunities in markets, who achieve a high quality of life with activities inside and outside of markets, and who derive great meaning and significance from the self-mastery, growth, and insight required by their work.

Happiness is a lifestyle, not just a set of moods. It is also life-enhancing, and it is a crucial element in performance. We cannot master a field if we do not love and embrace it.


NQ Trader Jay said...

Dr. Brett, After my 'little' successes today, I helped my friend with her computer stuff. She came over at noon, after I had 2 nice trades that pretty much were the start of my new trader personality. It was sunny out, I had transformational week that topped off 1 year and 8 months of work. So I took the break, she was worried I would be upset being away from the market, I thought about it, I DECIDED I had enuf of my old ways of obsession. We ate at a nice little home town family diner on a nice old Main Street, went to the book store, relaxed, watched the clouds, I checked in wireless laptop to see that I missed a nice head & shoulders top on NQ, thought about it for a minute, turned it off, and enjoyed our time.

I'm not driving myself crazy any more. You are correct in the need for balance and your post is one of those rare ones (in the industry, not your blog) that address this, rather than technicals and emotional control, etc. So these 'other' things, just happen to be everything else that I've been working on for my entire life to get straight and a year and a half ago I decided to focus, finally, on financial goals for the first time rather than personal growth. And that's why I was able to make the changes required to be a functional trader, because of all of the other work I've done.

I never valued money over personal growth. Cash is the least valuable thing as far a life is concerned. So that's why, in my 40's I left it for last. I can visualize that final piece coming into place now as I took the most recent work on self to get to cash. (I'm condensing here.) need to end comment! Have good weekend. -J

Michael said...

Dr Brett,
This article is spot-on! Sometimes we get too caught up in our work or business. I am going to point the reader of my website, to this article.