“In any investment, you expect to have fun and make money” – Michael Jordan
Or, perhaps fun is not the most appropriate word – don’t worry, we can always hire another seamstress to make new banners – but truly, trading should be exhilarating, exciting, and euphoric.
A personal friend, David we’ll call him, once imparted unto to me the story of his experience during the run-up to the tech bubble in the early 2000’s.
Joy. Sheer unadulterated joy. He was untouchable, with valuations soaring high; like the All-American bald eagle that watches over every man, woman, and child in this great nation of ours. In those moments, he said to the lowly me, Small Chief Mason, that he experienced the distilled essence of trading. Oh yes, the argument could be made that such feelings of grandeur are universally ingrained in human common biology. Yet, one need not delve so deep into scientific literature or theories to observe the truth in David’s statements.
Even in prehistoric times, humans and their evolutionary ancestors sought the thrill of the hunt. We stalked mighty mastodonic beasts for sustenance, running down our prey till they collapsed from exhaustion, jumping onto their pulsing jugulars and digging in as our heart beats drummed in our barrel-like primitive chests! In modern days, few things can even tickle our desire for such adrenaline-filled activities. But investors like David, who make their killings on the stock market, feeding themselves and their families with the hard-won fruits of their labor, can attest to something of a shadow of this birthright. A deep feeling welling up within them as they watch their net-worth ascend beyond the planes of their past socio-economic existence. One must recognize this feeling, this vast satisfaction that lies at the heart of investing emotionally. A primal instinct born and selectively bred within us. It lies there, beating dimly, waiting for the right moment to eject upwards and outwards. The human soul that is so central, yet unappreciated, to understanding the modern world of investing.
Flash to the Neolithic Era. How did man make the decision to scale mountains, discover Hawaii, or conquer monstrous beasts like the manatee? How, in the modern day, did David make the decision to amass generational wealth; to take on Goliath?
New research in gut-microflora may hold the key to answering these mysterious questions. Gut microbiota consists of tens of trillions of microorganisms, and while the prehistoric man may have believed he was a single entity, the modern man should know better. The modern man should know that these bacteria have more than 150 times as many genes as humans. The modern man should also know that the bacteria in his gut is an integral part of the human microbiome, the communities which symbiotically support the basic functions of the human body. The modern man should know all this due to a study by Andrew B. Shriener, published in the Journal of Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, which describes the recent technological advancements that have allowed for the astronomical growth in our collective scientific knowledge of the human microbiome. Andrew and his team found that characterization of the functions of the human microbiome and its underlying functions play an important role in human health and disease. The overwhelming scientific gastroenterological evidence suggests that the contents of an individual’s stomach has a direct impact on their livelihood.
While great strides have been made in the the study of the mind-stomach conundrum, gastroenterology is not the only field which has benefited from modern science. The field of psychology and psychiatry has also, for decades, enforced the link between human well-being and emotional states. Which, if taken in the light of the scientific consensus, as it should, links emotional states and decision making directly to human microbiota. That’s right. We now know that a clinically depressed hunter gatherer’s overwhelming sense of sorrow and dread started from a singular location, his stomach! The implications of this revelation in the framework of emotional investing are far reaching. Decisions, quite literally, stem from one’s gut. Indeed, the admittedly tired phrase “listen to your gut” appears to hold up to scientific scrutiny.