Tharp's Thoughts Weekly Newsletter (View On-Line)
What Does Mindfulness Mean? by Dr. L. Michael Hall
Just Announced! 2015 Workshop Schedule
Real Estate Market — Optimism or Folly? by D. R. Barton, Jr.
Are You Ready to Take Your Trading to the Next Level?
In January, we will be presenting two of our Foundation Workshops at our offices in Cary, NC. Van calls these "Foundation" workshops because they provide certain core material that you must master to become a great trader.
During How to Develop a Winning Trading System That Fits You, We'll teach you one of the real secrets of success — how to use all the system building blocks to design a trading system in such a way that it fits your personality and style of trading or investing.
The Blueprint for Trading Success workshop is a complete structured program that will launch you to a more advanced skill level in your trading. You’ll learn strategic, focused steps that will serve you throughout your entire trading career.
To register, or to see our full workshop schedule, click here.
What Does Mindfulness Mean?
Editor’s Note: Van is traveling but forwarded the article below to all of his staff. We thought our newsletter readers would benefit from it as well because mindfulness is a very useful edge for traders. A version of this article was originally published in the Neurons Digest newsletter on Nov. 17 and we are grateful to Dr. Hall for allowing us to share it with you.
To be mindful is to be present to your current situation, aware, appreciative, and in sensory-awareness. It is to be here-and-now in your awareness. It is to be conscious of what you are experiencing- present, and not lost in thought about some other time and place. When a person is not mindful, he or she is somewhere else or worse, may be mindlessly responding in an automatic way from old programs that may or may not be appropriate or useful for today.
Mindfulness fulfills the oft-quoted phrase from Fritz Perls when he said, "Lose your mind and come to your senses." The "mind" here is the chatter-box mind where we talk and talk and chatter to ourselves about all kinds of things while experiencing something- chatter that all-too-often causes us to miss the moment. NLP took this phrase as Perls' call for coming into sensory-awareness so that a person sees, hears, feels, smells, and tastes one's present moment.
The opposite is mindlessness. Mindlessness speaks about a state of mind wherein we are not present, not conscious of the richness of the moment and so we miss out on the present. Mindlessness occurs when we use our previous learnings in our ongoing experience of the world. So instead of experiencing the world in a fresh way, we see it through our categories, judgments, and ideologies. We then dismiss things with a flip of the mind, "Oh, that's X." "Oh that's success." "That's failure." "That's old stuff, I already know that." Then, using these constructs we become blind to what is actually available to us. Korzybski would say that this is seeing and experiencing the world intensionally rather than extensionally (note, it is intensionally, not intentionally).
By way of contrast to the automatic, robotic, and unconscious style of mindlessness, being mindful is responding with our full senses ("mind"), fully conscious of the here-and-now. Instead of the blind and dull repetition of being mindless, in being mindful we see everything as fresh and new. We see what we have seen a thousand times as if for the first time. Maslow described self-actualizing people in this way. He said they are able to see the thousandth sunrise as if it was the first one ever seen.
Another contrast is that in being mindless we use previous cognitive frameworks (judgments, evaluations, conclusions) rather than being open to the moment-that is, being mindful. The mindless see but do not really see. "Eyes they have and see not; ears they have and hear not." Ellen Langer describes their mindset is that of being "motivated-not-knowing." Having decided that one already knows, one turns consciousness off and then dismiss whatever is present, paying it no attention.
Numerous problems can arise from that way of orienting oneself in the world. Langer also describes mindless as being trapped in one's categories. When a person lives by one's labels, categories, classifications, etc. one loses the real world and lives solely in a world of constructs.
"Just as mindlessness is the rigid reliance on old categories, mindfulness means the continual creation of new ones." (Langer, 1989, p. 63).
Being mindful means making distinctions. This is especially what we train in Coaching Mastery -how to make refined distinctions so that a person can listen so actively and intensely, one seems to enter into an entirely new world. Whereas being mindless turns off one's sensory awareness of the present, in mindfulness you come to your senses in a heightened way. This explains why being mindful and living life from a state of continuous appreciation are so highly correlated.
Being mindful also entails continually creating and trying out new categories for things. This means being able to re-experience situations and contexts in new ways thereby making the world that is well-known new and fresh. In other words, playfulness isn't just for children. As an adult you take continue to play and to be playful as you move through life.
You can mindfully play with ideas and categories. Yet to do so requires an openness that reveals a mental receptivity to new possibilities.
In being mindful, your previous frames for understanding and interpreting a situation are not rigid or static. You can frame things in ever-new ways. As you learn to reframe in playful and unexpected ways new meanings emerge. Maybe this explains why framing and reframing belong to the mindful- to those with an open and active mind. The mindful can playfully re-interpret things to their benefit and to the benefit of others.
Being mindful means that you can stay aware of the process of making real choices as you move through the world. This requires a process orientation, that is, an orientation to reality as a dynamic process, and not a static one. Being mindful means we are alert to the variables within any decision so that we then think-through our decisions rather than deciding in a reactive mindless way.
Combo Discounts available for all back-to-back workshops!
See our workshop page for details.
Real Estate Market —
Optimism or Folly?
In today’s article, we’ll cover some curious news from the real estate world. Two items have just made headlines — home builder confidence and reports of soaring secondary market demand for subprime paper. Yes, you read that correctly — demand for subprime loans is soaring. More on that later…
First, a request. We have lots of real estate folks who patiently read these articles each week. Can you please tell me this — what is the zeitgeist for real estate in your area? Please send your thoughts to drbarton “at” vantharp.com.
My area of the Northeast is Delaware — smack in between Philadelphia and Baltimore. This area did not run too hot during the 2005-2006 real estate bubble and didn’t get smacked as hard on the way down either.
Today, there are new projects going up that were suspended when the real estate bubble burst and the credit crunch hit. But they are mostly conservative layouts – a modest 55+ townhome complex, a high end five unit development and a huge apartment complex for University of Delaware students. There are no big spec developments going up nor any construction happening on non-college related buildings. For those of you with “feet on the ground”, what are you seeing and hearing in your area?
Home Builders Are Extremely Optimistic — Did Anyone Tell the Home Buyers?
First up on Tuesday (Nov. 19) — the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo sentiment index climbed to its second highest level since 2005 for a reading of 58, up from 54 in October, and exceeding consensus expectations. In a statement released by NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly (ironically, he’s located 15 miles from me in Wilmington, Delaware), the organization listed low interest rates, improving consumer confidence, and increased buyer traffic as catalysts for the high home builder sentiment.
On the other hand, take a look at the following two charts from Bloomberg data. Perma-bear blog site zerohedge.com posted these to show there may be little reason for increased optimism:
(To see a larger version of the chart above, click here.)
(To see a larger version of the chart above, click here.)
Note: these charts have different time frames — the Sentiment/Starts chart dates back to 1991 and the Sentiment/Apps chart only begins in 2008.
The divergence between home builder sentiment versus starts and mortgage apps seems to show a schism in the real estate world.
Hence my quest for data from folks with feet on the ground. Are builders providing us with some prospective optimism that will lead to more home sales? Or is this just relief sentiment that things aren’t as bad as they were a few years ago? I look to you, loyal readers, for answers!
A New Subprime Boom?
In related news, a report issued by Scotsman Guide, the self-proclaimed “Leading Resource for Mortgage Originators” has the headline: Lenders report ‘out of control’ investor interest in subprime products.
The new attention to this sector is being driven by interest rates at 5 to 9 percent on the paper and the fact that in the current market, default rates are low; one lender (Athas) reports no defaults in last two years and no current 30-, 60- or 90-day late payments.
Subprime lenders are labeling these products as the “new” subprime or “sane” subprime mortgages because documentation and credit scores requirements are above those of the real estate bubble years.
Still, outside observers might do some head scratching… Subprime paper has always been a great investment — when the housing market has been strong! Heaven help us if we get another pullback…
Great trading and God bless you,
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