In the hectic and crazy world of the financial markets and money management, the greatest asset in the toolbox might be a clear mind. Dr. Aaron Turner, the founder of One Thought, believes that all sorts of positive outcomes are possible simply by approaching situations with the right frame of mind. He joins the ETF Think Tank to discuss the ways people can improve their mindset in both their personal and professional lives.
A good starting point is to define what is meant by “clarity”. It’s not the absence of a certain emotion, but there is a certain emotional tone when you’re “in the zone”. When people are in an at-ease emotional state, their thinking is clearer, and decisions can be made more easily. That’s clarity. Better outcomes are achieved when thoughts flow more naturally and you see things with more perspective.
Originally, Turner had little interest in studying the mind at all. As he started to look into it a little more, he realized that it was so different from other fields of study. He learned that the key to gaining clarity and well-being is that people simply needed to understand the process of how it works. He believes that people can change their mindsets and improve their states of mind very quickly. Even though you may not be solving a problem directly, how you approach the problem mentally can inherently begin solving it. People’s lives can improve so much if their state of mind improves. People can get more done by working less, improving communication, and increasing engagement.
Identifying stress points can certainly improve one’s mental perspective. The state of mind is invisible. We can’t address it directly; we must address it indirectly. You need to understand how something affects you so that you can make the appropriate adjustments. People need to have a healthier relationship to negative thinking. If you have a negative thought about yourself, you need to handle or even ignore those thoughts.
What does mindfulness have to do with investments? It’s all about the approach. You know that a disturbed thought is going to cost you. You know you’re going to end up paying. If you feel like a client is being annoying, you’ll likely confirm your own thinking. If you’re annoyed, everything will be annoying. If you’re clear of mind, nothing is annoying. People need to become better at realizing when it’s time to take a pause or let something go instead of just driving ahead.
How does one get to the point of gaining clarity? The “how” is understanding. If you recognize your triggers and see that your state of mind is off, you’ve taken the first step. People should get to the point where they realize when not to give themselves the green light on something. You don’t just go with the state of mind you’re in. You end up validating that state of mind even if it’s negative.
Is this all about awareness? Are negative emotions always a bad thing when it comes to decision making? It can be useful if it wakes someone up and springs them into action. If you try to do something with that state of mind, however, it’s probably not going to be helpful. You’ll usually think of things you should or shouldn’t have done if you’d had a clear state of mind. There’s always going to be some disruption and dysfunction built into it.
Other key takeaways:
- There’s an element of myth busting to mindfulness. You don’t need to get angry or fired up about something to suddenly become good or successful at it.
- Is “sleeping on it” a good idea? That’s really more like saying you need to take a moment away from something and come back when you’ve cleared your mind. Look at things when you can trust your mind.
- I can’t see the wind, but I can see the effects of the wind. Start to get interested in the link between how you feel and how things play out. You can read the quality of conversation based on how agitated you were at the time. If your mind is at ease, you tend to function best.
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