Don't expect any stock tips from this posting. How to treat flatulence, perhaps, but not stocks or the economy. What I have observed, however, is how easily panicked we all become when adversity threatens. Of course, this is written into our DNA. Those of us alive today owe our very being to ancestors who frightened more easily than their neighbors, prepared for the worst, or left town before the sh.t hit the fan.
That means, however, that we need to be aware of our reactive impulses–and to not be automatically carried away by them. Fear is the engine that drives us off the wall. It is how adversity hurts us. And fear is the mass media's pot of gold.
I believe the universal availability and constant bombardment of frightening news is contributing mightly to our emotional and psychological suffering. Pay attention to the sounds that cable news uses to 'interrupt' one news segment for another. There is panic and alarm in it. It sets us up emotionally for another disaster. And even when it is NOT a disaster, we suffer as if it were.
News of the economy is clearly not good. The banking, credit markets and stock markets have been severely beaten down. Many are to 'blame' and hopefully we will investigate and expose the sources of our problem.
Much of this has been magnified by our emotional response to adversity. Individuals panic, sell their stocks our of fear of futher decline which pushes all stocks further down. The fear that magnifies our situation leads to the vicious cycle we see unfolding before us.
Ironically, it seems to provide opportunities for the savy investors who are jumping in to buy good companies which are 'undervalued' because of the overall hysteria. Warren Buffet did not amass billions by making emotional decisions when it came to his financial life.
What life lessons can we learn from what is going on? Perhaps we can realize that our emotions tend to 'overshoot' when adversity arises. Perhaps we can learn to step back from these emotions when adversity strikes. We can't immediately, of course, because we are emotional creatures. But the sooner we can take a deep breath and distance ourselves from our emotions, we can deal more effectively with whatever difficulties arise.
It seems that those of us who can do so will suffer less in the present and "prosper" more in the future.