If only the markets didn’t crash, I would be happy.
Maybe stocks rebounding temporarily brightens your day but the underlying problem still exists. When the next inevitable downturn hits, the same reactive patterns violently reemerge.
How do we stop our minds from perpetual hijackings?
We need the right tools. I don’t mean diversification of asset classes investment strategies and a goals-based financial plan. These are terrific financial weapons but… What good are they if you’re constantly crawling out of your skin worrying about money?
Yes, they’re many unhappy millionaires amongst us.
Why are so many living in despair even though we possess abundant quantities of material wealth?
The path to financial wellness runs through a disciplined mental portfolio.
Many don’t see things as they really are. Making up stories about everything that happens. Creating their own versions of The Matrix.
“It’s the world that’s been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
Most suffering is based upon how we see things rather than what we see. Becoming prisoners of our own mind and relying on beliefs and perceptions not tempered with reality. Blaming external circumstances for suffering. A lack of contentment compounds the problem.
Suffering is how we see things rather than what we see. Blinded to reality, we hold preconceived perceptions and beliefs keeping us from seeing the truth.
This is currently playing out in real-time right before our eyes. The pandemic and market crash are very serious problems. Many people are dying and millions will most likely lose their jobs. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those suffering.
God-willing, the majority of Americans won’t become unemployed or very ill. Our brains vehemently disagree.
Reactivity spiralling out of control, focusing solely on blunt extremes is a recipe for disaster.
The media exponentially magnifying the red graphics signifying death and market destruction. Seeking more and more information from sources designed to inflame our anxiety rather than offering reason and hope. Not realizing the focus should pinpoint on unlearning reactive belief systems. Not acquiring false knowledge about levels of illness, death and financial ruin.
Acknowledging we’re dealing with both a pandemic and an infodemic is imperative.
During stressful times, it’s hard to distinguish Truths That Are True and Truths That We Believe To Be True. Stocks are defined as partial ownership in a business- A truth that is true. During this market crash, all stocks will go to zero – Truth that too many believe to be true.
Seeing things as permanent warps our perceptions of reality. The market will always go down. The Pandemic will ravage the country for decades.
Rinse and repeat.
The fact is EVERYTHING is impermanent. It’s the iron law of reality. Things fall into two categories, gross and subtle impermanence. Gross happens on a massive scale, people die, empires collapse, and social norms continuously change. Subtle is the fact we aren’t the same people from one moment to another. Based on the physical changes constantly occurring in our bodies.
Imagine the difference in anxiety levels using a perspective relying on impermanence regarding wild market gyrations?
Would they seem so shocking?
Would you even care?
The good news – we can train our minds just like our bodies. Implementing a vaccine curing the plague of habitual reactivity.
The first step – becoming aware of flaws in our thinking. Focusing attention on reality, not a delusion. By observing, we put a hard stop to reactive thinking and cease making up meanings to events based on past perceptions.
This can be accomplished through mindful mediation.
No, you don’t have to shave your head, change your current religion or even have a religion, join a cult, wear a funny robe, or walk around chanting strange phrases. You can spend as little or as much time as you desire on your practice from just about anywhere at any time. You can sit on a cushion, chair, lie down, or walk.
It works. Meditation changes our brains like exercise strengthens muscles. Among other Neuroplasticity studies, science proves meditators show greater thickening of the insular cortex. This is the area of the brain that regulates emotions.
Is there a better market hedge than this?
Sceptics will say: “This is too boring, I’ll fall asleep. My mind will wander.” Not realizing, noticing these things and starting again is the path to awareness.
Mindfulness is summed up by leading practitioner, and expert Sharon Salzberg. “Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience. Often such stories treat a fleeting state of mind as if it were our entire and permanent self.”
During the last few years, I ‘ve made a concerted effort to become less of an A-Hole. Some may dispute my success ratio but I can tell you the amount of people I detest has fallen considerably. (Trust me, I’m no Buddha but it’s a start.) Reading several books on Eastern Philosophy, Mindfulness and Buddhism was a game-changer.
During the past month, these tools proved invaluable in maintaining a proper perspective during a dark time.
If this is something you’d like to explore, There’s a reading list at the bottom of this post.
Take a moment. Put down, your iPhone, turn off the T.V., get off Twitter, and breathe.
Hit the pause button. Begin your journey toward financial mental wellness.
You won’t regret it.
Resources for further enlightenment
No-Nonsense Buddhism For Beginners By Noah Rasheta
Real Happiness The Power Of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
Beyond Religion by The Dalai Lama
Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright
Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
10% Happier by Dan Harris
Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein