Emotional Investment.

There is a field in finance called emotional investing which means using feelings rather than logic in making investment decisions. I will briefly talk about it later, but I would like to focus more on the psychological emotional investment which is – “Emotional ‘investment’ in a subject is the degree to which emotions are evoked when the subject is encountered. Things in which we can invest include: Relationships with others. Ideas and ideologies.”

Viktor Frankl in his best seller Man’s Search For meaning talks about two instances of emotional investment which end up in tragedy. The first is of a man who gets a dream where he hears that he will be free from the concentration camp by the end of the month and perks up. When there is no sign of freedom at the end of the month, he dies. Similarly, other inmates imagine that Christmas will bring about their freedom and before the new year they will be free. They too die of disappointment.

On the other hand, Frankl observing such behaviour keeps his hopes alive with the single thought that he will one day write a book about his experiences and that one thought keeps him going till his release.

What better examples for emotional investment in ideas that can lead either to negative or positive results?

In the Indian system of Personality Analysis, there are three traits in all human beings called, Satvaguna, Rajoguna and tamoguna. All of us have all three in us except that the degree to which they predominate differs from individual to individual. I flatter myself that I am the Satvik type.

Some years ago, I had an opportunity to undergo the Myers Briggs personality analysis and I was given this analysis about my personality type:

Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging

• Realistic, outgoing, systematic, dependable
• Dignified, strong-willed, and principled
• Extremely loyal to family, community, and country
• Great strategist and outstanding “game” player
• Respects tradition and order
• Highly ethical, hardworking, dedicated, and honest
• Lives in the observable “real world” and focuses on what is practical
• Extremely organized with difficulty dealing with uncertainties
• Responsible and would rather plan before acting.

In the Indian system of personality analysis, I flatter myself that I fall into the Satvic type.

My Yogic analysis and the MB analysis gel well and I can say that I am a well adjusted personality with just enough emotional investment in what matters and not greatly involved in the negative aspects of such investments.

Now, coming to the financial emotional investment aspect of this topic, I had made some foolish investments based on emotion rather than logic and lost a packet in the bargain. For instance, in a horse race, I bet on a horse named after my late wife and that horse came last! Similarly I invested in an IPO of a company named after a favourite deity and that company went into liquidation in just three years. After that experience, I have withdrawn from all kinds of financial speculative activities and now live a comfortable if somewhat placid life.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumShackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Padmum. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

A Reason For Being.

Please click on the image for a larger resolution.


The Japanese have a word for this – Ikigai.

Try as I might, I cannot find this particular type of Reason For Being at my present age of three score and fifteen. What possible reason can motivate me to get up in the morning to face another day? I often write about the impact that Viktor Frakl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning had on me some decades ago, and now struggle to find some meaning to his conclusion of the Western kind. He concludes “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Truth be told, what gets me up in the morning is simply that I cannot sleep after 5.00 am no matter how late I go to sleep because of habit ingrained from boyhood when a martinet of a father insisted that we got up when the crows cawed which was inevitably well before sunrise and day break.

Subsequently, I got into the habit of meditating and yogabhyas in the mornings which continue to occupy my time in the mornings but, those two activities are not the reason for my being.

I look forward to reading the morning newspapers and solving the crossword puzzles in them. Is that the reason for my being? Once I finish those very likeable activities at around 12.00 noon, what will keep me going? The prospect of lunch, the siesta that inevitably follows, the session at the computer to catch up with mail, facebook posts etc?

I wonder what the Japanese will suggest as a word for someone like me!

Which wondering brings me to the Indian philosophical approach to the same situation. It is called Purushartha or The Object Of Human Pursuit. Please do spend some time on the Wikipedia exposition on this concept so that, you can follow my take on life’s purpose in my current stage of development.

The four components, Dharma, Artha, Kaama, Moksha can be compared to a bracelet of three beads with Dharma being the holding string that holds the three otehr beads together. In other words, a morally lived life of acquiring means to enjoy the pleasures of life which hopefully will take one to a stage of satiety and the last stage of seeking freedom from the very essence of life, wanting! Moksha is the ultimate goal for Indians which can be obtained by learning and understanding the highest philosophical ideas. This process is called Shravanam, mananam, nidhidhyasanam, or, learining, understanding and reflecting on the knowledge gained. Quite a bit of my time is taken on this activity and so my Ikigai may well be Moksha!

Meaning / Purpose / Happiness.


This Mark Twain quote was shared by a friend on facebook and led me to muse over it and the result is this post.

In Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl often quotes Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” The “why” is what he calls the meaning of one’s life, which according to Frankl is the patient’s will to strive, succeed, and to live.

Man can also find meaning by suffering. When one is faced with suffering, and there is nothing he can do to change his predicament, the only remaining option is for him to change his perspective, to change the way in which he views the situation. An example that Frankl gives is of a story of a grieving widower who had lost his wife. The man came to Frankl to ask for advice. Frankl asked the man, “What would have happened…if you had died first and your wife would have had to survive without you?” Through this question, the suffering the man was enduring gained a new purpose, he was mourning, but his wife would not have to mourn him.

This story of the widower helped me overcome my own grief of losing my wife and friend of 48 years, but understanding that the relationship was because I was happy in it and the grief was in losing that state of happiness, came about by my study of Vedanta about which I shall elaborate a little later.

I had posted a video post of the Dalai Lama and in commenting on it, Monk had given me a link to one of her old posts that is very interesting on the subject of finding meaning.  She had written it before I started visiting her blog and so was not aware of that post.  Having read it, I was inspired to include the link here for reference, as the subject matter is the same as that of this post.

My regular readers will remember that I am a student of Vedanta. For a Vedantin, ie one who is a follower of the Vedanta system of philosophy, the purpose of one’s life is to find Moksha (Liberation) which is to get released from the cycle of births and deaths. A student of the system, tries to achieve jivan mukti, which is to find the liberation in this life itself. What this implies is that he finds and abides in the happy himself during this life itself. So, the purpose of finding out why he was born is to recognise that he was born to become a jivan mukta.

If all that sounds very mumbo jumbo, simply stated, it is to reach that inner space which is naturally a happy state, but which has been overwritten by other impressions which need to be discarded. The process of discarding those impressions and abiding in the released state is the purpose of, at least, my life.

If you are interested in probing further about your own purpose / meaning, you can try the twenty minute formula that Cheerful Monk shares in her post a link to which I have given above.

When I was young.

This week’s topic has been suggested by Shackman for the weekly Friday LBC posts where three of us and some times more write on the same topic. One more blogger Lin is sure to write and you may like to pop over to see what the other two have to say on the topic.

I am at an age when I forget that there was a time when I was young. And for the purpose of this post, how do I define young? Pre-teen, teenage or post teen age or the entire period before I hit shall I arbitrarily say, forty years of age?

So, before I hit forty is the choice I will make for being young, and the first thing that comes to mind is that during that entire period, I never ever thought of the day when I will be as old as I am today, and most certainly even in my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would be sitting before a computer and typing blog posts out. In fact, a computer was a mysterious machine to be handled only by experts as we in India were just then getting into computerising and I had most certainly given up any idea of ever having to type anything, having got used to secretaries.

Being employed in a transferable job, I did not dream that a time will come when I will buy a home and settle down in one town and retire there. That came true in my late forties which one could call the middle age I suppose. It happened due to a series of fortuitous circumstances about which I have written elsewhere but even just a year before that happened, I could not have thought that it would happen.

By the same account, I never thought that a day will come when a land line telephone, a high prestige item in my forties when neighbours envied someone with one, will become passe and that one would be able to make and receive phone calls through hand held small gadgets which would also be mini computers for many purposes.

When I was young, I could not have imagined that we would have 24 hour television with a wide choice of channels to choose from, DVD players, home theater systems etc, to see any film at your convenience and the internet which would change how we lived.

Nor could I have imagined the kind of traffic and number of vehicles on our roads, nor the kind of roads that have come up to accommodate such traffic. Living as I was in those glorious Socialistic days, I could not have imagined the number of models of vehicles that one would be able to buy off showrooms, having been used to waiting lists for two models of cars and two models of motorcycles for the entire country.

In a matter of three decades, my world as I knew changed and I enjoy the present world and all that it has to offer.

Let me share a favourite passage.

“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

No, thank you,’ he will think. ‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ ”

From “Logotherapy in a Nutshell”, an essay”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Daydreams.

daydream

This topic was suggested by me for the weekly Friday LBC posts for this year. Quite what I had in my mind when I suggested it escapes me now and I am floundering to write something about it.

“Daydreaming is a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake.”
~ Wikipedia.

Logically, the definition precludes dreaming as we understand it, ie, a thought process that occurs during our sleep. So, the detachment is while when one is wide awake!

I am not a great daydreamer now as my time is quite occupied during the day times. I am usually reading, or solving crossword puzzles, or being quite occupied with something or the other. I suppose that in my younger days, I was a daydreamer and in retrospect can say that some of the daydreams have come true while most have stayed as dreams only. I suppose that it would be the same for most of us.

I am now at an age where it is futile to daydream whereas I can live in my past to my heart’s content. And that observation brings me to an all time favourite piece of writing from a favourite author, with which I will close this post.

“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

No, thank you,’ he will think. ‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ ”

From “Logotherapy in a Nutshell”, an essay”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The Inner Child The Outer Child

Today’s topic for the weekly LBC post comes from Lin. Since I had never had to deal with the concept of the outer child, I had to undertake some research to understand the term before I could attempt to write on the topic. And, I am glad that I did.

I quote from an article in the Huffington Post by psychotherapist Susan Anderson.

“You have an Inner Child that represents your emotions and primal needs.

You have an Outer Child that represents your self-defeating behaviors.

You have an Adult self that needs to get stronger so it can nurture your Inner Child and tame your Outer Child so you can reach your potential for greater life and love.”

If you read the article you will come to understand, as I did what exactly self defeating behaviour is! As I understand it, all that it means is that the outer child is the action part of the duo of feeling and translating it into action. To the best of my knowledge, I have not ever thought that anything that I did ever was self defeating possibly with the exception of having acquired a habit of smoking! Since I have quit smoking, there is little that can be called self defeating in my behaviour now unless some independent observer comes along to point out otherwise.

The entire subject however was tackled differently by one of my favourite authors Viktor Frankl.
quote-between-stimulus-and-response-there-is-a-space-in-that-space-is-our-power-to-choose-viktor-e-frankl-10-18-45

I think that I have been able to use that gap quite effectively over my life and I continue to use it even now. As the oldies amongst us would say, I am measured in my ways!