Friday, December 10, 2010

Stoicism and Trading - Stoics

Stoicism was a philosophy towards life that evolved in ancient Greece. Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium around 300 B.C. and was later popularized by Chrysippus, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

The philosophy that stoics lived by was to be indifferent to pain or pleasure. They were not easily excited or upset. In a way they were like Zen Buddhists who follow “The Way,” the Tao, by taking the middle road. Stoic philosophy can be useful for traders. Don’t get too thrilled when you hit winners, don’t get too bummed out when you have losses, don’t get really bummed out when you are in long, painful drawdowns, and keeping your head level is philosophically stoic.

I consider myself emotional and sensitive. I like to live life. I emotionally exaggerate life’s highs and lows. It is in my nature. As I am becoming and getting older, I get better in managing my feelings, thoughts, and emotions. It is not easy, and I am sure some people are better in managing their states than others. Nonetheless, we all need to do it. Knowing what I am like as a person helped me in deciding how I would approach trading. I realized pretty quickly that discretionary trading was too difficult and emotional for me. System trading, however, gave me some “emotional separation” from the market. It also helped me be more stoic about my trading performance. Being a systematic trader helps me better manage my emotional states.

Perhaps we cannot live stoically in all aspects of our lives, but we can, however, benefit from its ideas in our trading.

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