Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Going On A Healthy Psychological Diet

It's good advice:  the right foods can be the right medicine.  I recently met with someone who was experiencing feelings of depression and a loss of energy.  Those, in turn, affected his concentration and that interfered with his trading.  It turned out that he had gained significant weight.  His weight gain influenced his sleep quality, as he began snoring and experiencing interruptions of sleep (apnea).  The disrupted sleep prevented him from entering the deeper, restorative stages of sleep, which left him tired and run down by the morning.  On the advice of his physician, he changed his diet, lost weight, stopped snoring, slept better, and regained his energy and concentration.  Had he resorted to sleeping pills and antidepressant medications instead of diet, he could have compounded his problems.

In the recent Forbes article, I make the case for a different kind of diet.  Our daily experience is what we process each day, and that is what we internalize--for better or for worse.  The work we perform, the people we interact with, the activities we engage in: that provides our psychological diet.  What we do in life and who we do it with shapes our experience--and our experience shapes how we view ourselves.  I recently spoke with a young trader who aspired to doing great things in markets.  My first questions asked about the great things he was doing each day.  Can we really expect extraordinary results from a series of ordinary days?

Ask yourself to define the ideal you:  how you would like to be as a person, as a romantic partner, as a trader.  Then identify those specific things in your daily diet of experience that will lead you to move consistently toward those ideals.  If you're not progressing toward your goals and find yourself dreaming of ideals but not achieving them, perhaps it's time for a diet.

Further Reading:  Role Modeling and Mirrors