Existential Psychology

Equanimity And Thinking Long-Term

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Financial advisers will tell you to save yourself the distress that comes from constantly checking on the stocks in your portfolio. There are going to be drastic fluctuations in the short-term, and while they might seem significant at the time these fluctuations have little bearing on long-term growth. As long as your investment strategy is sound, and a sound investment strategy is always a long-term strategy, you can look at your portfolio much more rarely. When you do you’ll probably be pleased to see a steady upward trend.

We can and should apply this same idea to the more ephemeral aspects of our lives, to our goals and aspirations, to personal development and self-actualization. These things take time to come to fruition, nothing worthwhile happens in a day or a week, and by cultivating equanimity instead of getting caught up in the ups and downs of the moment we can save ourselves a lot of psychic distress while increasing our chances of sticking with what we’re doing because we’re thinking long-term to begin with.

A psychological reason to focus on equanimity rather than on the ups and downs of the immediate situation is that human beings are loss averse, meaning that losing a certain ‘something’ is more emotionally painful than gaining that same ‘something’ is emotionally pleasurable. When we get caught up in the fluctuations we weight the many downs more heavily than the many ups. From a happiness standpoint we’re playing a game that’s almost impossible to win.

By thinking of aspirations as long-term investments, we shield ourselves from all that distress because we start to view fluctuations more objectively, as insignificant in either direction when compared with the steady upward progress we’ve been making and will continue to make over the months and years.