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Lessons of Gratitude 

by Shawn Wolff November 2004


Holidays are wonderful times for reflection. We get caught up in the trappings of turkeys, stuffing and pumpkin pie, but Thanksgiving has also acquired a significance beyond the historical facts as a time to simply offer thanks for what we have. So this is a good opportunity to ponder the idea of gratitude, which I have found to be one of the most important lessons in life.

Its easy to be grateful when things are going well, but its actually during those times when things are at their worst, when we have less to be grateful for, that feelings of gratitude will help us the most. What does this have to do with trading you ask? Everything. Let me tell you a story.

“If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul." - Rabbi Harold Kushner

There is an incredible woman in our trading chat-room who lives with constant chronic pain after a serious car accident. Despite her affliction, I have never met anyone with a more positive attitude. When she logs in, it is like a breath of fresh air for everyone. She is always happy and its just contagious. Even over the internet, you can feel her warmth. She is grateful for every day of her life.

After some heavy investing losses, she came to our chat-room to learn to day trade. She went about her education process slowly and steadily, first starting on paper as we recommend, then going on to trade the QQQ with small shares. She began taking small gains of 10 – 15 cents, and kept her stops very tight.

Now, if you are trading 200 shares and taking 10 – 15 cent gains, you aren’t making a lot of money. But from her reactions, you would have thought she was given the crown jewels. And with every stop she never flinched, because she never really allows anything to get her down. She sees the good in everything, so she sees purpose and reason in the stops. She pays attention and she is actually grateful for those stops, because she is grateful for every lesson she learns.

“God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart." -Izaak Walton

There were a couple other people trading with us, who were not beginners. They were under a lot of pressure to make a lot of money, because their standards of living were very high. This put them in a vicious cycle. To meet those standards, they felt the need to trade very large numbers of shares, and trading that many shares they would make some wildly impressive gains.

The more shares they played though, the more risk they were taking, and the more pressure they felt. They soon became prisoners of their high expectations, and their attitudes suffered for it. They began trading scared. It became emotionally harder to take stops, which can be a fatal error. Gains they made were never enough, because their goals were so high. Instead of feeling grateful when the market offered them a great trade, they were disappointed that those great trades weren’t coming more often.

When emotions like greed and fear enter your trading, you will find yourself entering too early and exiting too late. You will push trades that do not meet criteria, instead of accepting what the market offers. You will be stopped out more often, and stops will be harder to take. And that will be your downfall. If you can focus on gratitude though, it will change your attitude, and there will be no room left for fear or greed.

They are not poor that have little, but they that desire much. The richest man, whatever his lot, is the one who's content with his lot" -Dutch Proverb

Our chat-room has a very supportive and warm atmosphere that I am very proud of, but when someone is under a lot of pressure, they can sometimes develop a negative attitude. I caught wind of a very subtle condescending remark about small QQQ trades, which disappointed me at the time. But I think you can guess already who is still trading and who had to pack it up.

The positive attitude won out, and with a steady consistent approach her trading has flourished. She is still “collecting change” as she puts it, from the QQQ every day, but she has increased shares and branched off into trading a larger basket of stocks, as well as some news plays. She has gradually built up her trading skills and is now trading rings around a lot of the more experienced traders. And I am deeply convinced that gratitude has made the difference.

"What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it - would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have." -Ralph Marston

It is easy to be thankful around the holidays when we have constant reminders. It is harder to make gratitude an everyday part of your life. It is also easy to be grateful for what we have. Its not so easy to be grateful for what we do not yet have. That requires faith. But if we can find that faith, it will not only change our trading, it will change our lives.





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