Past/future obsession: How it’s killing your trading performance

Alan Watts was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known for translating and popularizing Eastern philosophies for a Western audience.

Below is an insightful quote from him…

We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured, with the world which actually is.


Decrypting the quote

Our capacity to think, learn, and solve complex problems, is our evolutionary edge as a species. But that edge isn’t without its fair share of unfavorable consequences.

For instance, our capacity to use past experiences to make more informed choices in the future is a useful attribute. However, it often leads us to over-think things, which actually works against creating the future that we want for ourselves.

Instead of focusing on the present, the only “time” anything actually gets done, we end up living on fears, hopes, and dreams, which by themselves do nothing to help us achieve our goals.

A dreaded future, or the appeal of an ideal one, are both pure fantasies! In the future, anything could happen and what you imagine as a “future” is nothing more than probabilistic guesses and expectations based on your past experiences, themselves based on thoughts and feelings which often have an uneasy relationship with facts.

This has to be realized so that one doesn’t get too attached to any specific outcome.


Alan watts, mindful trading, trading expectations, trading probabilities, trading psychology

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