Yesterday did not start on a good note for me.
I broke three cups.
Sunday is when I usually prepare tea for the house. As I was pulling out three teacups from the cabinet, all with a single hand while holding the cabinet door with another, one of them slipped.
I watched, aghast, wanting time to stop. But it didn’t. In fact, it seemed to move faster. The cup was lost.
However, if that was not all, as I vainly attempted to catch it in that millisecond, the other two cups also dropped out of my hand.
All three were gone.
As I was cleaning up the mess, a realization struck. Maybe the second-best thing for me to do to save the two other cups was to let the first one go. The best thing, of course, would have been to not try pulling them out of the cabinet with one hand.
Life teaches us lessons almost all the time. We only need to observe well, and sometimes be prepared to hear the sound of breaking glass.
The lesson I learned by breaking those three cups was that often, the best thing we must do with a lost cause is to let it go.
Well, it is not just about lost causes, but about everything we do in life, including investing in stocks.
In case you haven’t yet tried it, doing the hard work of finding the right stocks for investment, and then letting go of the returns is immensely peaceful.
Of course, we need to reevaluate our decisions from time to time, but the idea of such evaluation must be to check if everything is fine than to change things when they don’t require changing.
German writer and statesman, Goethe, is quoted as saying –
What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass should not bother him.
This is exactly what Lord Krisha is supposed to have advised Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra –
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥
Translated – You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions. Do not let the fruit be the purpose of your actions, and therefore you won’t be attached to not doing your duty.
“Staying cheerful” is “a wise thing to do,” Charlie Munger told a journalist when asked about the secret of a long and happy life. He added, “…in order to do so, you have to let go of negative feelings.”
Munger, notably, let go of the tragedies – divorce, poverty, son’s death, losing an eye – in the early part of his life to become what he has become. He just did whatever he could, and then he let go of what happened to him.
As investors, however, we need to learn to do the hard work and then, very importantly, let it go by –
- Not letting fear – of losing money, or earning less than others – rule our lives
- Not allowing undue return expectations to weigh us down
- Not allowing regrets – both from past and future – to keep us from moving on
- Accepting our mistakes and cutting out losers (bad businesses) from our portfolios, at whatever losses or gains
- Removing distractions caused by noise from our investment decision making
- Focusing just on the process and letting the outcome take care of itself
Letting go can be difficult like it was difficult for me to let go off that first teacup from falling.
But letting go gives us the space we need in life for what matters. When we let go of fear, expectations, distractions, and regrets, we gain qualities that are much more valuable.
We gain bravery, acceptance, focus, and forgiveness (especially for ourselves), and these qualities will carry us far in life, investing included.
However otherwise we believe, the world is indifferent to what we “want.” If we persist in wanting, in needing, we are simply setting ourselves up for resentment or worse.
We’re all here to grow and flourish and we all deserve to be happy and successful. Having to let go of things that were once important is a painful, but normal, part of life. None of us stay the same. We grow constantly. That doesn’t mean that everything in our lives, including our stocks and portfolios, will grow in the same direction or at the same rate.
All the ideas about healthy, happy living that I’m tying to practice are –
1. Nutritious, unprocessed food
2. Calorie restriction
9. Social connections
10. Adequate sleep
11. Letting it go
— Vishal Khandelwal (@safalniveshak) August 31, 2019
Letting go is one of the hardest, but one of the bravest things we can do.
The process of doing the hard work, and then consciously surrendering, can truly change our lives. With everything we leave behind, there is so much more waiting ahead. Let’s be ready with empty and open arms when it comes.
Here’s what the Chinese classic text Tao Te Ching advises –
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
I hope I remember this when I drop the next cup down.
P.S. If all else fails when you try to let it go, an exuberant singalong to Frozen’s “Let It Go” is always a great way to do it. This is what my daughter taught me. 🙂