Business & Money
Earlier this week I was walking towards Dig Inn, my normal lunch spot. Perhaps 30 yards ahead I noticed a fairly large puddle. Another 30 yards ahead of that, there was a young finance type walking briskly towards me. Apparently he didn’t notice the giant puddle between us. He proceeded to step square in the middle of it which, of course, completely threw his world into disarray. As I passed to the side of him, I heard him mutter, “why does shit like this always happen to me?” As he stormed off, I couldn’t quite make out what else he said, but it was definitely other obscenities and consecrations.
On first take, you might say that anyone would respond in a similar manner. But I’d say that, if you want to be a good investor, you have to let go of that type of thinking. You have to completely eliminate the idea that the world is acting on you or that it has some predetermined nefarious purpose for you. Instead, I believe you have to focus on what you can control (not all that much outside of your behavior/psychology) and realize that the vast majority of market forces are completely outside of your control.
I’ve never had the urge to get a tattoo, but I came across a Latin phrase this week that really spoke to me.
Ars longa, vita brevis. It means “art is long, life is short.” It refers to the idea that, while one human life is extremely brief, we have the opportunity to contribute to a body of knowledge and understanding that persists long after the individual has ceased to exist. And that those contributions can help bootstrap the continual progression of humanity.
It’s the idea that men are small, but mankind is massive. And what a beautiful idea it is!
Earlier today, I flew out of Laguardia for a business trip. As I was walking to my gate, I passed by a Uniqlo vending machine. You could buy jackets and shirts in a few different colors. The jacket was really nice and I contemplated buying it. It was only $70. I decided not to buy it.
I decided not to buy it because I have enough jackets. Sure, the one in the vending machine was nice and different than any other I owned, but that’s not the point. I don’t need a new jacket.
We humans are strange creatures. It seems coded in our DNA to want more stuff. More jackets, more shoes, more food, more everything. I’ll call it hedonic adaptation. No matter how good you have it or how much stuff you have, you simply get used to it and want more and/or different stuff. I’m not sure there are any other creatures on the planet that share this feature. And that’s awesome. For those other creatures that is.
What is the purpose of this mode of thinking?
I guess if you think about it from a purely biological perspective, accumulating stuff might give males a higher likelihood of reproducing and passing on their genes. Gather as much stuff as possible, and the females will be impressed by all my stuff and give me an opportunity to mate. Having lots of stuff proves my fitness. My offspring will have a higher likelihood of survival due to all my stuff, so the female, of course, wants to mate with a male that gives her offspring the best chance at survival.
I mean, the logic makes sense, but as I mentioned before, we humans are unique in that our lives have gotten pretty far away from the purely biological. We don’t really follow the laws of nature. We don’t live in equilibrium with our environment. We don’t have any predators (except maybe other humans).
I think the problem is that, despite having broken from the normal biological system, we actually have not. We still have the “lizard brain” at the core. The only difference is that we’ve buried it underneath a bunch of abstractions.
This brings me back to why meditation has become such an integral part of my life. It’s so valuable for me because it helps to peel back the abstractions. It helps me get closer to what is real and what is true. It helps me realize when hedonism is creeping up in my mind and when I have enough jackets. It helps me realize that, if someone else (spouse, friend, family, etc) is only interested in me due how much stuff I have, that’s likely not a relationship worth maintaining.
My Latest Discovery
Over the last few months, I’ve been taking a new approach whenever I feel as though I might be getting sick. Whenever the feeling arises, I will skip eating lunch for a day or two. So after the post-workout protein shake in the morning, I won’t eat again until dinner, which usually occurs around 8 pm. So basically a 12-13 hour midday fast.
At some point between 12 – 2 pm, I’ll have a Soylent or fruit smoothie so that I’m not skipping out on vitamins/nutrients that are, of course, important for recovery and good health.
I haven’t yet spent much time reading into this, but the thought process is to not waste any unnecessary energy on digestion, and instead allow my system to divert that fuel to support the immune system. I’ll update you guys when I have a chance to do a bit of research.
The results seem promising. Every little bug that has started to creep up has receded quickly before becoming anything substantial (knock on wood).
More broadly, I find it important to do these type of experiments, regardless of the underlying science, to figure out what works for my body. Our biochemistries are all slightly different, so if you can find something that works for you, that seems like a good thing.