Trading: a path towards something Bigger (ie. getting a life)
This thread is not about the HOW (charts, systems, blah blah). It's not even about the common mental traps we traders setup for ourselves (indiscipline, too much risk, over trading, etc). In this thread, I intend to show you the WHY we, or anybody really, trades. Before we get started, here's a couple of things I hope you will keep in mind about the author:
- first and foremost, I'm neither "religious" nor do I care about preaching/converting you. If you feel at anytime that I am and it insults you, feel free to move on to the next thread.
- What I'm about to tell you is the single most important realization I've ever had regarding my trading. It has literally turned my performance/well-being/happiness around. It was too powerful to keep it to myself, so here we are. I truly hope it helps you too!
THE REASON I trade can be summarized in one word: LOVE. Remember the non-religious bit? Hang in there for a sec and let me finish the thought before you dismiss it.
We arrive at that conclusion by starting with the most superficial motivation for anybody who trades: to make money. From this starting point, we usually mean that we want money so that one or many of the following things can happen:
- a purchase (car,house,send ur kids to college etc)
- an experience (travel the world, get married, go to Vegas & accidentally get married!)
- a feeling (never have to "work" again, the thrill of winning the "market games", etc)
And that's usually sufficient motivation for us to go ahead and make things happen. However, underlying all of these intermediate goals are two mutually exclusive desires: the desire for power or the desire for happiness. You want the goods, trips, highs etc of profitable trading so that you can dominate, control, prove a point, be superior and generally better than "other people". Or you need the money so you and/or someone you care about (kids, wife, orphans in Africa) can be happy.
The desire for power is a process that inevitably leads to isolation and solitude. Though we often see the titans of Wall St commanding the fate of humanity with their decisions, it's often the case that these individuals have nothing left in their personal lives worth living for: no united family, close friends, a purpose to their existence outside of business, etc. I believe that's because the struggle for power that put them at the top of the business world, by definition, requires that they remain up there alone. Therefore, the path of power cannot conduct one towards a "life" outside trading, a higher purpose, etc.
It's at this point that I suggest to you that the only available path for us to assign a purpose to our trading is the one of happiness. If we stretch our minds further to define happiness as loving (someone, something or even yourself) and being loved, then we arrive at the pinnacle of all positive human emotion & motivation: LOVE. Therefore, the trader who intends to derive something greater than just material profits from his work must act out of love. Love towards himself, family, friends and humanity at large.
An acceptance of this basic, yet profound, reason for existence will profoundly change one's mindset towards his practice:
- Above all, your wealth becomes a vehicle for your expression of Love. The giving of gifts, charitable deeds, and generous actions are backed by the intent to directly associate your trading with a higher purpose in life.
- Of similar importance, the connection between your trading and your purpose (to Love and be Loved) is self-reinforcing and becomes an invincible source of resilience and serenity. It eliminates our fears about losing money, the desire for revenge after losing, and the hurry to get rich right this second. It stabilizes our very being to recognize that our work is secondary to our purpose in this life.
- The inevitable losses of trading become much more bearable. After all, the trading itself is meaningless; what counts is that "Love doesn't cost a thing". You can still turn around after taking a beating from the markets and hug your loved one, call a good friend, spend 30 mins playing ball with a foster child, visit a nursing home, care for homeless pets, etc.
- Finally, as long as you truly believe that both in winning and losing days what matters is how much you have loved and sought happiness for yourself and others, the outcomes of your trading will influence your mood less and less. And that, friends, is one hell of an edge to have in our industry. It certainly helped me and I truly wish the same for you!
Do you agree? Is this just pie-in-the-sky bullshit? Please do share your thoughts!
The following 10 users say Thank You to mmarco for this post:
You bring up some great concepts about motivations for trading. I do think though that trading is a personal journey and no two traders are quite the same.
For myself, while I certainly love my family, friends, and wife I don't trade for anyone but me. I don't mean this in the superficial sense. I trade because it challenges me to become a better person. I would agree that I do trade for love but it is a love of the markets and the self improvement they demand.
The following user says Thank You to eudamonia for this post:
Good point there and Love for oneself is definitely a legitimate path to a higher purpose. I too have grown much more mature as a person and spouse in some ways due to the crude and immediate feedback the markets teach you. This thread had some really insightful ideas I enjoyed as well, take a look:
"The eye of the will is impure and makes for distortion.
Only when we want nothing, only when our gaze becomes pure contemplation,
does the soul of things, beauty, open to us"
I take "beauty" to be love.
Perhaps it is all "just pie in the sky", but as Bach said, "think of our limitations and sure enough they are our own".
I guess it's easy for things to seem or be esoteric and have a label placed on them, put into a box if you will of
"all that zen like mumbo jumbo stuff".
But for me, and as I have taken to understand your excellent post, love is the ultimate form of acceptance.
The acceptance of all things given and taken and both unconditionally.
A freedom in letting go.
Perhaps at that level of understanding, of acceptance, there is an awareness that allows the truth of things to become clearer.
In terms of trading those truths would, I imagine, be of all the things we experience, be they psychological and/or emotion and/or spiritual.
Acceptance, and that acceptance is love and that love is the only truth, for me,
was the most profound lesson I gained from and for my trading and life.
And as you mentioned, trading itself is meaningless.
Ahhh the contradictions, they say so much...
Many thx for your post..
Every moment I wake up I realize I know nothing, and then I smile...
Last edited by zt379; February 5th, 2012 at 10:44 AM.
The following user says Thank You to zt379 for this post:
@mmarco -- agree completely with your take on things. hadn't ever thought of it like this, but you've dropped a beautiful "AHA" into my life today--thanks. and i can see that if i can hold onto "why" i'm trading--because i want to show my love--then i may well have the patience to sit on my hands and wait for a perfect setup to come my way rather than rushing the milk-cow to the barn! thanks for posting,
Well said. I too had a similar epiphany not too long ago. I had to ask myself, why trade? why not a 9-5? If it's for the money, how much is enough? Will it ever be enough to make me completely satisfied? I'll admit it, at first I started trading for the lure of money because I thought it would equate to happiness. And somewhere along the line, I forgot about using the money to do things that made me happy but instead focused on making more money. There really is no end to the pursuit of money. Just thinking about this made me unhappy and had to give myself a real gut check.
I started re-focusing my trading on "loving" just as you said in terms of having the finances to give more; financially and of my time. It's amazing how many homeless people you can feed with a couple hundred worth in a day's profit or the satisfaction of coaching a little league. For me, the loving has a far greater satisfaction with an impact that has no price tag. Trading money for the immeasurable...Best trade ever.
The following user says Thank You to fminus for this post: