#865 November 22, 2017
  • Feature: Why Gratitude Matters for Traders and Investors, by D. R. Barton, Jr.
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  • Tips: On the Importance of Saying "Thank You", by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.
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Feature Article

Why Gratitude Matters for Traders and Investors
by D.R. Barton, Jr.
Van Tharp
Thanksgiving has been a big deal in the Barton household for many years. My wife was thrust into the matriarch role of her family all too early in life. She has worn the mantle well, however, so we have hosted the family Thanksgiving dinner for almost two decades. While my wife tackles delicious sides and awesome pies for dessert, I conjure up the gravy and cook the turkeys.

This year, I will finish off preparing a 20 pound turkey by inserting 40 cloves of garlic into slits made throughout the meat after letting it sit overnight in a citrus and herb brine. Because of a large crowd coming in this week, I’ll supplement that big bird with a turkey breast slowly smoked on a grill over apple wood. Then, exactly one dozen non-residents will flood the house and nine of them will spend the night on Thursday. We’ll be thankful for every moment we get to spend with them.

A Special Sentiment — Often Overshadowed

All too often, family, food, and football overshadow the deeper meaning of this holiday celebration. President Lincoln declared a Thanksgiving holiday in 1863 as a day of giving thanks and praise for the United States. Over a century and a half later, the celebration has become something of a “gateway holiday” marking the informal beginning of the Christmas season (though Christmas TV ads have been airing already for a month). This time of year includes the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the eight days of Hanukkah and others.

If we needed convincing that people often give less attention to giving thanks than the day deserves, consider this: the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed “Black Friday.” It’s the semi-official start of the holiday shopping season and this “non-holiday” bargain hunting extravaganza remains very popular. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that 99.1 million Americans hit brick and mortar retail stores in 2016 on Black Friday. But even that rash of shopping frenzy has been overtaken recently by “Cyber Monday”. The NRF reported 108.5 million people shopped online on the Monday following Thanksgiving in 2016.

In the same way that the nation can overlook the importance of setting aside time to express gratitude, traders and investors can easily ignore the importance of gratitude in their approach to the markets. How? Let’s explore why gratitude is such an important attribute for traders and investors.

Before we dig into that concept, let me start by saying I’m sure many folks out there believe that all you need to succeed in the markets is a good strategy or set of indicators. I know that because I have worked with thousands of traders and investors over many years and the very people who would rather sweep the psychological side of trading under the rug are the ones who need to pay attention the most to that part of the game! So regardless of your beliefs in this area, read on for some useful info.

Prevalence of Gratitude Across Cultures and Spiritual Traditions

At the surface level, gratitude can be viewed as a simple tool for successful living. At its core, though, gratitude is really an approach to life or stated more boldly, it is a way of life. All spiritual traditions include gratitude among their highest virtues. For example, here is a quote attributed to Gautama Buddha:

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.”

For another example, the words “thanks” or “thanksgiving” show up 58 times in Jewish scriptures.

The most insightful reference on gratitude for me comes from one biblical account of healing that turned into much more. While traveling, Jesus healed 10 men who were all suffering from leprosy. One of them, when he realized he was healed, ran back to offer Jesus his thanks. Jesus praised the grateful man, telling him that through his gratitude he had shown his faith and produced more than a cleansing of his condition — it also brought a complete healing of the man’s body, mind and spirit. This state of gratitude allows you to “be the best you can be” and is essential for excelling in any endeavor.

Gratitude and Trading: Practical Application

Van has always championed the primary importance of psychology in trading. Being in the proper mental state is central to great trading so let’s start with this bottom line: if we approach the markets with a grateful attitude, we put ourselves in the best possible mental state for trading. In a state of gratefulness -

  • we are open to see the markets more clearly,
  • we cling to none of the baggage that can cause us to deviate from our trading plan, and
  • we are led to the inner joy that makes us our best and most complete self — the same state that the grateful leper felt after he voiced his thanks.

So how can we can be “grateful traders and investors”? Just consider some of the things that you have to be thankful for:

  • Your time, talent, and treasure (i.e., the resources that allow you to trade).
  • Tools and information at your fingertips that traders of previous eras could only dream about.
  • Open markets that anyone can trade (not just a select group or privileged few).
  • The freedom to trade what you want, when you want.
  • The freedom to not trade at all and be out of the markets if you so choose.
  • And finally, the opportunity to serve society by providing market liquidity and risk capital.

That last item is so important and like gratitude, is so often overlooked. Risk capital and liquidity are the life blood of financial markets and strong, functioning economies.

An Easy Choice

Think about two possible mindsets you could have —

  • A mindset where you are grateful for the opportunity to excel in a challenging field and happy just to be involved.
  • A mindset of struggling and griping about every inch of gained ground, never satisfied with the outcome.

When we read those two choices, no one would consciously pick the second one. Yet when the bell rings and the markets open, many traders allow themselves to revert to an adversarial mental state like that. Approaching the markets with gratitude instead allows us to participate at a much deeper level where our body, mind and spirit are aligned for the task. Make a conscious choice to stay grateful.

If you’d really like to take your trading game (as well as the other areas of your life) to the next level, each week before you start trading write down a few things in your life week for which you are grateful. According to peer reviewed research, that simple and quick practice can make a huge difference in your mental state and your results. Go ahead and try it now!

Final Thoughts

As we prepare for Thanksgiving here in the US, take some time to give thanks for your many blessings, regardless of where you live! And then, make a concerted effort to carry that grateful attitude with you to the markets. You might be pleasantly surprised by how such a small change in approach can make your journey more enjoyable and more profitable.

I am grateful for your readership and I’d love to hear your thoughts about gratitude. Just send an email to drbarton “at” vantharp “dot” com. Until next week…

Great Trading,
D. R.

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Trading Tip

On the Importance of Saying "Thank You"
by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.
(Originally published in Tharp's Thoughts #709 November 25, 2014)
One of my Super Traders recently mentioned that he was doing the 28-day course by Rhonda Byrne from her newest book, The Magic. I was quite curious, what is this 28-day course? I was in Australia at the time and Byrne is Australian so I knew that I would be able to find the book in the local bookstores.
Once I found it, I photo-read the entire book in about 15 minutes and decided that I needed to buy it. I worked on The Magic program while I was conducting the Peak 202 workshop and then went on a five day vacation. The book turned out to be all about gratitude. I am very interested in gratitude because when I first became a Oneness Blessing Giver over five years ago, I was told that the fastest way to increase my level of consciousness was by increasing the amount of gratitude in my life.

When Peak 203 came around a week later, I decided to incorporate The Magic program into the workshop follow-up program. In addition, my Internal Guidance told me to add an exercise to the course itself. That exercise became one of the most powerful I’ve ever given in terms of its impact.

Here’s the exercise, so that you might try it yourself: At lunch time today, go outside and say, “thank you” to at least 50 people in one hour. You must be able to give a different reason to thank each person so that the “thank you” is sincere. So, how do you feel at the thought of doing that exercise?

It’s not such a daunting task in Sydney when you consider that as soon as you go out into the streets, you can meet around 10-20 people each minute. All you have to do is pick one and say, “Thank you.” If you live in an area where there aren’t many people, you’ll have to say thank you to everyone.

When we debriefed the exercise after lunch, the feedback ranged from:

  • “This was the most powerful exercise I’ve ever done.”


  • “That was the most awesome hour of my entire life.”

That was the kind of impact it had. Here is a specific recount of the exercise that one of my Super Traders gave at his end of the week report to me:

One of the most uplifting experiences of my life happened today. Van changed the lunch time exercise to one where we had to go out and give 50 “thank you’s” to people. It could be for anything, but each one had to be for a different reason.

So anyway, for the FIRST time I decided to NOT do this alone, but to do it with a partner. I teamed up with D in the tunnel at Central Railway Station. D and I had bought four pieces of cardboard, and we were going to pin them to our front and back, when two other class participants turned up and asked for a piece of cardboard. The universe certainly provided, and was perfect (well, from their perspective I guess).

What followed I can only describe as pure magic. We stood as a group in the tunnel, and started thanking people. The goal was to get 50 each. We were able to thank over EIGHT HUNDRED people!!! But that wasn’t the point. A lady who was an opera singer, looking quite down with the world on her shoulders, just suddenly burst into song. There were people who were uplifted. People would walk up to us and give us hugs; we lost count of the number of high fives.

Words fail me, but I know the other guys were totally in agreement that — for that hour or so — magic truly happened. It was like the energy in the whole walkway where we stood was raised an entire level on the David Hawkins scale of consciousness.

What also makes this exercise particularly poignant for me is that it was almost two years ago to the day (actual date: 18th of March) that I approached Van about being a Super Trader. It was at Peak 203 in Sydney, March 2011. I remember it well, because when we had to do the exercise where we went out to get hugs. I was shaking, almost throwing up in the bin and paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t wait for it to end. D summed it up that day by saying that I looked like Mr. Burns out of the Simpsons, half dead.

Now here I am, two years later and experiencing something that was completely transformative, pure magic. If that’s the kind of Matrix I am creating now, then “I want more of that.”

While this article has little to do with trading, it has everything to do with being a happier person and raising your level of consciousness. So, if you want an experience with Magic, then go out and do it. And if you need to recruit a couple of friends to do it with you, be my guest.

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Immense success is possible for most traders and investors. But the secret to that success has little to do with some magical trading system. Instead, it has everything to do with you. You are the secret ingredient to your success. And when you transform yourself, you transform everything. Peak Performance 202 is a major leap forward for those of you who are willing to step out of your comfort zone.
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In just three days you’ll see how all of Van Tharp ’s strategic trading concepts fit into one seamless design for more predictable trading results. Your trading will never be the same.
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