"How you are seen by others becomes the mirror that tells you what you are like and who you are. You need others to give you a sense of self, and if you live in a culture that to a large extent equates self-worth with how much and what you have, if you cannot look through this collective delusion, you will be condemned to chasing after things for the rest of your life in the vain hope of finding your worth and completion of your sense of self there." ~ Eckhart Tolle
What should you do now to benefit the most in 2011? While every media source that exists is asking this question in some shape or form, the one true answer comes from the same place -- within yourself.
Knowledge is Power But Knowledge is not Wisdom
Humans like to find information, to find some gleeming tidbit of knowledge that will bring fortune; and mass media knows this. If the truth were told, news periodicals would proclaim, "We have no idea what will happen in 2011; but by simply provoking your anxiety, curiosity, and desire for more, we'll publish our annual predictions and strategies so you'll buy our publication."
In the not-too-distant past, I too would become caught up in the popular annual ritual of where-to-invest-in-the-new-year articles. In fact, I even added to the fray with my own thoughts on what the new year would bring for money, investing and the overall economy.
Dissolving the Illusion
In recent years, however, I am thankful to have learned that the greatest investment has nothing to do with financial matters; the greatest investment is self-awareness. The illusions and delusions put forth by mass media and conventional wisdom has the effect of diminishing your ability to make good decisions, while simultaneously reinforcing your desire to win the rat race. These illusions and delusions cannot exist in the presence of awareness; the magician is reduced to an entertainer when you know how the illusion is created.
Life is Now
Knowledge is valuable; however, self-awareness and mindful attention to the present moment is priceless. Life exists in the present moment; and if you are always planning, predicting and plotting your future, you are not present with life. Furthermore, if you are engaged in financial activities, such as investing, trading, planning or purchasing, self-awareness enables conscious choices that will no doubt save you tremendous amounts of time and money. Am I chasing money or am I investing? Why do I keep making this same trading mistake? Did I plan to purchase this item?
Awareness is affluence. This is a theme you will find often here at The Financial Philosopher in 2011 and it is a primary theme in my forthcoming book projects. Here are some blog posts, along with brief excerpts from each, that you may find helpful in discovering Where to Invest in 2011 and beyond... in yourself:
Why Make Predictions? Making predictions is a behavior deriving from the desire for control, which, in itself, is a derivative of the fear of uncertainty. Unless you were given a frontal lobotomy, the frontal lobe of your brain will naturally and continually function to make plans for (and predictions of) your future. Since a frontal lobotomy would blunt your emotions and personality, your best means of managing your miscalculations is to be aware of your own nature and, hence, to anticipate it!
Curing Affluenza I disagree with the fundamental suggestion that affluenza is a disease. Instead, I believe that it is a symptom of the greater disease of being human, and the only cure to that disease is self-awareness.
The Diminishing Marginal Utility of Wealth Does quality increase with quantity? Once our physiological needs are met, can more money bring more happiness? If we are already "satisfied," why do we consume more? Can we possibly become "more satisfied?"
We are all Naive Scientists Science, like philosophy, is quite logical in nature and does not often lend itself to describing, explaining, predicting or controlling those things that are non-logical in nature, such as human emotion. So when we go about trying to apply science to our life experiences, it is more likely than not that we are acting naively.
Know Thy Risk Humans are not wired to be smart investors. We are wired for simple, survival-oriented pattern recognition, which, financially speaking, can potentially doom the average person to failure.
Who Am I? (2-part series of posts) "An inability to notice our true feelings leaves us at their mercy. People with greater certainty about their true feelings are better pilots of their lives, having a surer sense of how they really feel about personal decisions from whom to marry to what job to take." ~ Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Have a happy 2011 and invest in yourself...