There’s a song that you may know…it begins something like this: “When I am worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings,” by Ray Wylie Hubbard. It’s been sung by many artists over the years and it is revered as a sure-fire way to bring you out of the dumps and into a space of gratitude and appreciation. Being in the space of gratitude and appreciation is not just good for feeling better and lifting your spirits, it’s also a powerful way to support your trading. Melody Beattie wrote in her book Codependence No More, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” She really sums up the power of gratitude and how it can lift your life; and I’d like to share some of the ways that it can catapult the trading process.
Due to the nature of gratitude, it grounds and centers you. When you take a moment to consider all the ways that life has been good to you, there is a sense of clarity that affords you the opportunity appreciate to greater depths the what-matters-most in your life. You become more likely to notice things like loved ones, friends, your health (even if you may have a health challenge it could always be worse) and many, many more blessings. Being grateful also has a way of humbling you. You are able to see the scheme of life and the glory of how it all fits together and the fact that you are but one point of light in a universe of stars; and in that point you have everything that you need. Humility reduces susceptibility to ego driven noise (thoughts) regarding the fear of being wrong, the need to be right, the fear of loss or the anxiety riddled thoughts that you are not good enough, smart enough or lovable enough which all stem from either over-compensatory hubris and self-promotion (chest beating to hide the limiting beliefs of inferiority) or the need to be in self-protection (hiding behind defense mechanisms like avoidance, shutting down or aggression). Humility that comes from gratitude defends vulnerability because it values relationship, love and connection which are mainstays of being human.
Gratitude opens the heart and mind, putting you in a position of patience and acceptance. Patience, as in methodical, step by step execution; and acceptance, as in the ability to accept a result that you did not want, learn from it and move on, are both paramount in the trading process. Gratitude helps you to weather difficult times by reminding you that issues, problems and set-backs must all be kept in perspective; and that they are usually nowhere near as onerous as they seem at the time. Gratitude cultivates mindfulness and allows you to trade with more confidence.
One of the concepts that I often speak of is the importance of being in the Now of the trade. Gratitude helps to keep you grounded in the now, and thereby helps you to become aligned in body, mind and emotions in order to go in the same directions and for the same goals. It is very difficult if not impossible to be aligned in your thoughts, emotions and behaviors if you are ruminating about a trade that just happened or do not have confidence in a trade plan that you are intending to execute. You only have 100% of attention and all of it is needed in the trader trenches. If you are inundated by what has already happened or distressed by what might occur then the amount of attention that you have available in the moment to focus on the task at hand has been reduced accordingly.
Gratitude helps you to position yourself for success. Trading is a journey in self-discovery, and gratitude hone’s your focus so that you are able to appreciate not only where you are and what you are doing but also acknowledge and be available to the journey and the path that you are taking. You are much more prone to choose the route that reflects your highest and best trader when you come to a fork in the road. With gratitude you focus more on what is positive and right about you rather than what is negative or wrong.
There have been a number of research studies on the power of gratitude. One such project is by Robert A. Emmons, University of California, Davis, Dimensions and Perspectives of Gratitude. Emmons, a Davis Professor, wrote in his book Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, based on eight years of research, that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” will experience multiple advantages. For instance, gratitude improves emotional and physical health and it can strengthen relationships and communities. Emmons wrote, “Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”
The above are just a few of the many benefits to choosing the space of gratitude and how this choice can support not only your trading but your life. Actually, any important endeavor in your life and how you negotiate that endeavor reflect your mental focus, emotional stability and character (thank goodness that these variables can be managed); and trading is no different. So, take time every day to be grateful and appreciate all the blessings in your life. This is what we teach in the Mastering the Mental Game Online, On-location and XLT courses. Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book, From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.
Dr. Woody Johnson