Mindless Exercise (The Financial Athlete #125)

“Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything….Perceive those things which cannot be seen….Pay attention even to trifles.” — Miyamoto Musashi

We encounter mindlessness everywhere, from the cashier’s robotic blessing, “Have a nice day” to the willfully ignorant investor who takes comfort in the saying, “Good things happen to those who wait.” In reality, bad things happen to investors who wait too long and good things happen to those who know when to stop waiting.

Forms of Mindlessness

  • Being oblivious
  • Too lazy to think (no understanding of cause and effect)
  • Willfully ignorant (hearing what you want to hear)
  • Not thinking for yourself (too dependent on others)
  • Lost in routine (no spark of creative thinking)

The gym is home to mindless exercise…watching television while on the cardio machines. There is no mind and body connection whatsoever. Even stretching is done mindlessly. To be mindful with a stretch, just visualize the movement of your bones. In the yoga practice, stretching is never mindless for the serious yoga student. Yoga means “uniting” in Sanskrit. Mind, body, and spirit are united through the breath and postures. Beyond this, yoga cultivates a sense of unity with all creation.

In all activities, engage mindfulness.

Forms of Mindfulness

  • Concentration (narrow focus of attention/critical thinking)
  • Awareness (broad focus of attention/intuitive feeling)

To invest mindfully is to be in harmony with facts, reason and trends. Intuitive feeling (awareness) and critical thinking (concentration) are aligned. The natural course of mindful investing is sustainable gain, while the natural course of mindless investing is losing. Losing has a redeeming quality if you allow it awaken the mind to greater concentration and awareness.

Mindfulness need not be complex. Interestingly, you can be financially illiterate for Financial Statements and still engage in the mindful and yet simple long-term strategy of dollar-cost-averaging into the S&P 500. This strategy beats most funds which try to outperform the S&P 500. On the surface this strategy seems robotic, but I call it mindful because it takes discipline to execute.

Another mindful and simple strategy is to pay off the mortgage and live a debt free life. Although you may have become much wealthier if had leveraged debt with low interest into more lucrative investments, you achieved freedom from anxiety related to money.

“Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

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