betterment of self

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by darkhorse, May 14, 2004.

  1. How many would agree or disagree that the most effective motivation a trader can have, or an individual in life can have for that matter, is betterment of self.

    Think about it: if your motivation is money, then at a certain point your desires will ebb, either because you have obtained all the money you could want or need, or else you have reached a point where your sense of fatigue is stronger than your sense of desire.

    If your motivation is personal accomplishment, then you will eventually run into the wall of "how much accomplishment is enough" or else burn yourself out in thrall to the idea that there is never enough.

    The ability to pursue betterment of self is the only goal that all thinking individuals truly have equal access to. The playing field is far from level: some are born with wealth. Some have the good fortune of powerful mentors in their lives. Some were simply in the right place at the right time. Others have incredible amounts of raw talent.

    But everyone, down to the most mediocre individual, the most downtrodden, down and out person, has the ability to pursue betterment of self, and to strike a blow against mediocrity in that regard.

    Perhaps betterment of self, or rather the character and heart of the individual that results from betterment of self, are the only true ways to measure success. Two men are millionaires. One earned his money, the other inherited it, or happened upon it with a windfall. What is the real measure of difference between them? Who they are. (The one who earned it is not necessarily the more successful one either.)

    Betterment of self is also sufficiently "metaphysics neutral" for both atheists and theists to have useful access to the concept. My determination of who I want to be, who I want to become, is defined by my faith. But for those with weak faith or no faith, betterment of self can still be a powerful benchmark, defined in their own way.

    I think pursuing betterment of self is ultimately a reflection of the biblical teaching that the heart is what's most important, not appearances or physical accomplishments. This belief is grounded in basic observation as well. How can men be directly judged by their accomplishments when there were so many factors out of anyone's control? Who can claim superiority because of genes they inherited, or situations they stumbled upon, or teachers they had the good fortune to sit under at a formative age?

    But in terms of the heart, who a person is, what kind of character that person has, how much they embrace nobility and strength and things that separate man from animal- those things are intrinsic to the soul of the individual, independent of uncontrolled circumstances. And those intrinsic elements are refined and purified by betterment of self.

    It's also ironic that pursuing betterment of self leads to more success. The classic virtues: honesty, patience, wisdom, discipline, delayed self gratification, humbleness... all lead to better trading, and ultimately to larger profits. Ultimately they lead to a more balanced life, a fuller life… a roadmap to contentment.

    Betterment of self is also a motivation that allows the trader to walk between the Scylla and Charibdys of fear and greed. Trading for money, trading for status, trading as a fantasy world to block out the real world... all these outcome based motivations are fraught with pitfalls that manifest themselves as either fear or greed. The only way to remove an unhealthy focus on outcome, while retaining a healthy motivation, is to focus on betterment of self.

    Obviously there are other motivations: the desire for financial security, the desire for personal accomplishment, the value of freedom that cannot be taxed, etc. But at the end of the day, what is left over once you have succeeded, and what can lift you up when your goal seems depressingly far away? What has the power to bring you to success, no matter how rocky the road beforehand, and then to sustain you and move you to higher and higher levels once your initial version of success was achieved?

    Betterment of self is the only thing I can think of. For theists, this extends into pursuit of your calling. For atheists, this extends into pursuing your personal version of life fulfillment. But for both, there is benefit in stepping back from the outcome and placing more emphasis on who you are, and who you are becoming. There is real freedom in getting off the outcome based treadmill, and ironically, it lets you enjoy your successes even more than those who are overly attached to results. A millionaire who needs his money to be happy is a slave; a millionaire who can be content with any amount of money is free, and can enjoy his gifts more freely.

    Another benefit of true commitment to betterment of self is that it is more likely to be a true guide than other motivations. Many, if not most, who want to be traders were never meant to be traders. A motivation of greed or fear or boredom can mask that truth, whereas devotion to betterment of self will give you the inspiration to really listen.

    Maybe that inner voice, finally paid attention to, will tell you yes, you were really were meant to be a trader, there is no doubt of it: this is your life's passion, this is where your heart beats, this is who you are. But for many it will reveal a hidden motivation that isn't strong enough to sustain the journey, and a need to pursue a different path. Painful in the short run, but a blessing in the long run.

    Anyway that's it, I just felt like sharing.
  2. Just felt like sharing? What a wise and beautiful post, darkhorse! One of the best things I've read here in years!

    Couldn't agree any more on these thoughts - and that in itself is a rare occassion... :p

    Have you ever looked into the writings and philosophies of the Dalai Lama? The central focus of his spiritual path is actually betterment of one's self, so if you're not already familiar with it, I'd strongly recommend a look! Personally, I am one of his greatest fans.

    Sci :)
  3. What can I say, but congratulations!? And thank you, it makes things a lot clearer for me in the motivation department!
  4. Banjo


    Springtime under the bodhi tree, eh Dark? For me a better way to put it is not in the hierarchical sense of higher or lower, a linear perception, but in terms of the *expansion* of my spirit, that which I will be leaving with when my human time is done. We can't escape playing the cultural game of whichever culture we find ourselves in or survival would be impossible. The circumstances we find ourselves in are the sharpening stone for the sword of the spirit On *moving* day what we take with us is knowledge we have accumulated through experience. If we have gained awareness and spent our human time properly sharpening our sword of knowledge we will have constructed a cleaner pakage of being that will move into the next state of being, ever expanding states of being. Unto thyne own self be true, don't count up your treasures on earth etc and all that.
  5. Dark, it's okay to fail brother! Yes, who you become/are becoming is infinitely more important than "success" or "accomplishment" in trading (or anything). So if trading proves not to be your calling, swim on swimmer, and fulfill your life's purpose.
  6. :confused:

    Trading is not my raison d'etre, but it's very much a part of who I am. I absolutely love the game (and it is most definitely a game); unless I get hit by a truck, I'll be trading for the next fifty or sixty years. I'd like to know what it feels like to make a million dollars on a single position (plus a pyramid or two) with my own capital. Will I ever get to find out? Don't know, but I certainly wouldn't bet against it. Heck, I might get to find out what it's like to make $100 million in one pop.... someone's got to be the next generation Soros or Kovner or Bacon or Jones, there will be a few slots open so no reason I can't step up. Do I still sound like someone trying to justify failure to you?

    My comments regarding success and accomplishment were directed at three types of individuals on this board: those who equate money they don't have with happiness they don't have, those who are drawn to trading for the wrong reasons, and those who are successful by the world's standards but feel enslaved - put on a treadmill by their own relentless pursuit of some unobtainable standard.

    In all cases, a reality check can help give the individual renewed purpose: honesty either gives you the strength to persevere knowing you do so for the right reasons, or the strength to change course if that's what your heart is really telling you to do.

    It's interesting how responses to my views on accomplishment and success tend to fall into two different categories. Many of those who are successful by their own standards will agree with me that the true measure of fulfillment is internal, regardless of external appearance or reward.

    On the other side of the coin, many of those who tend to view themselves as unsuccessful - and again this is completely a subjective thing, as many accomplished people see themselves as failures- tend to believe that such views are copouts, excuses or justification for falling short.

    Having clarified that, I do agree with your general message, tongue in cheek as it may have been :)
  7. Well, this is this is the psychology forum, so thought I'll take a pop at playing Freud. :)

    I heard once that people teach what they themselves most need to learn. While this doesn't always strictly hold true, I've found it works often that I choose to err on the side of it being so. (You just have to develop the 'ear' for it.)
  8. That sounds logical at first glance but doesn't hold up to basic scrutiny.

    If I learn karate from Mr. Miyagi, is he actually teaching himself instead of me?

    If my grandfather offers me advice based on his life experience, is he actually giving himself advice?

    If you see someone making a mistake that you made yourself in the past and feel motivated to help them through it, does that mean you have to relearn the lesson?

    At the end of the day, it's another one of those handy sayings... "when you point the finger at someone else you have four more pointing back at yourself." Yes, sometimes. And sometimes not. Just like sometimes it's better to look before you leap, and sometimes he who hesitates is lost. A penny saved is a penny earned, but don't trip over dimes on your way to dollars. To seek counsel is wise, except when too many chefs spoil the broth. Fortune favors the bold, but fools rush in where angels fear to tread. On and on.

    Generalisms are one dimensional, wisdom is multi-dimensional.
  9. For the highly developed, this is the only reason and only goal in trading. It is the reason to trade.

  10. But you did feel the need to defend yourself ;-)

    I definitely don't hope to trade for another forty or fifty years. After being in the business for some three years, it feels like a regular job. A job I enjoy, but I wouldn't do it in my spare time :)

    Your self-betterment post was an eyeopener for me though, never thought of it that way and it releases some stress and more.

    Thanks again,
    #10     May 24, 2004