Mood, financial markets, and road safety

SUNDAY, 7 SEPTEMBER 2014

A guy on a motorcycle cuts you off seconds before you get to a traffic light. You have to brake sharply. The guy races through the intersection, and because your forward motion was interrupted, you are forced to wait at the red light.

Six blocks later you crash into a car. Not because you’re a bad driver. Not because the other person had done something terribly wrong. You crashed into them because you were still steamed up because of “that other pig” cutting you off – six blocks earlier. Now you have to pay for the damage to someone’s vehicle. Because you couldn’t restrain your emotions. Because you took all your resentments, all your insecurities with you on the road.

Same with activity on a financial market. I increasingly get the idea that my understanding of the markets are no longer as big a problem as it was eight months ago. The way I enter into transactions is also considerably better. But because my mind is not what it should be – because of the heat and humidity, the fact that my bicycle’s chain falls off every day and then the overweight foreign dude with the grandmother bike has to stop on the bridge to reset his chain with his keys, and who knows what else, every now and then I allow a transaction to go where it wants instead of controlling it. And it’s not because I am a bad trader, or because I don’t understand what’s going on. It is because I can’t restrain my emotions. Because I take my clouded mind with me to the trading session. And the result is that I don’t make money – or worse, that I lose money.

We like to tell ourselves that we ought to be happy, that it’s better for our health and our relationships and so on. Verily, verily, I say to myself: Work on being a happier person, make it clear to all your insecurities what they can do to themselves, and make more money.

A happier person with fewer insecurities will probably also find it easier to remain calm in the traffic. Which might just one day save your and/or someone else’s life or limb.

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