Friday, November 28, 2008

Thoughts on Giving Thanks

Researchers have identified several components to psychological well-being, including our overall happiness, our energy level, and closeness in social relationships. Another important component to well-being is contentment: one's satisfaction with life. The literature finds that contentment is different from happiness. The former reflects a global appraisal of one's life situation; the former is an emotional experience. We can do many things that make us happy and yet not achieve overall life satisfaction and fulfillment.

Too many traders equate contentment with complacency. They are afraid of being satisfied, because they assume that this will reduce their motivation to move ahead. As a result, they never find contentment; they are never satisfied.

In my own experience, I trade best when I have reached a particular point of peace within myself. If I miss a move or exit a trade too soon, it's no more that a temporary frustration. There will always be other opportunities. I don't need to catch each move in its entirety to be OK with where I'm at in my trading and in my life.

When I fail to find that internal peace, wanting to succeed becomes need to succeed. I find myself trading out of that need, chasing moves and overtrading. I'm not trading from a position of emotional well-being; I'm trading to try, vainly, to find well-being. But no happiness from winning trades can sum up to life satisfaction.

The content trader operates in a universe of plenty. The trader lacking satisfaction operates in a universe of scarcity.

Thanksgiving is more than a day in the year; it's a state of mind. And I suspect it's a state that has much to do with long-term success. The contentment of giving thanks is not laziness or complacency; it's the state that clears our minds for creative insights and the perception of opportunity.