De-Numb Your Mind

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I was reading Ryan Holiday’s Stillness Is the Key and stumbled on this quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus:

“Most of us would be seized with fear if our bodies went numb, and would do everything possible to avoid it, yet we take no interest at all in the numbing of our [minds].”

I modified that quote just a tiny bit, I substituted minds for souls. Epictetus was born in 50 AD – that is, long before the invention of the iPhone. If he looked at us today, he’d probably add minds to his quote.

I can definitely see how we – and this is a royal “we,” since I’m speaking first and foremost about yours truly – are always trying to numb our minds. We constantly need the mental organ entertained and well-numbed with external stimuli. It seems that whenever we are left with ourselves, that is, with our minds, we reach out for our favorite portable numbing device and happily lose ourselves in Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, a video game, or what have you. We spend little or no time with … ourselves.

My family and I are spending a few days in Vail. Every morning I walk to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, a wonderful small botanic garden. I sit on the bench and just look at nature. Sometimes I listen to music, but not always – I also want to listen to nature. I usually love all the seasons, but I really don’t want summer to go away. I have fallen in love with my daily walks in the park.

I have to confess, it’s not easy to de-numb. I, like everyone else, am addicted to my numbing device. So I removed all applications from my iPhone other than phone, texting, maps, Spotify, and a few others that are very functional, like Uber. I am learning how to be one on one with my mind.

Try this. Spend less time with your phone, more time with yourself, and go for walks. You may feel calmer, more at peace, and a tiny bit happier.

You can have a look at the pictures I took in my morning walks in Vail here and my beautiful walks in Betty Ford Alpine Garden here.

I am going to take a break from writing about the stock market this summer. I am still going to write daily, but the topics that are more of interest to me right now have to do with our minds and souls.

But don’t you worry, you’ll still get plenty of the stock market writing from me. In forthcoming blog posts, I will share with you excerpts from my letters to IMA clients, starting with the most recent one, from June 2020, but also portions of previous client letters. When you read them, realize that they were not written in the form of articles but as a continuous conversation with the IMA Tribe about their portfolios.

Vitaliy Katsenelson

I am the CEO at IMA, which is anything but your average investment firm. (Why? Get our company brochure here, or simply visit our website).

In a brief moment of senility, Forbes magazine called me “the new Benjamin Graham.”

I’ve written two books on investing, which were published by John Wiley & Sons and have been translated into eight languages. (I’m working on a third - you can read a chapter from it, titled “The 6 Commandments of Value Investing” here).

And if you prefer listening, audio versions of my articles are published weekly at investor.fm.

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