Book Review: the art of thinking clearly

Hello folks!

This is part of my attempt at trying to meet my goals for 2017 and pursuit for self-improvement and learning how to think a bit clearer in investing, in dealing with my own thoughts and with people.

I came across the art of thinking clearly by Rolf Dobelli recommended by theescapeartist for sometime and has been interested given the clarity of thought and simplicity of ideas that TEA communicates in his posts. Life is simple as we make it out to be.

the art of thinking clearly
rolf dobelli

The purpose of the book is to illustrate various different fallacies in human thinking in the hope that it can help us avoid these mind traps. The book is laid out in short chapters (99 chapters in total), each of 400-500 hundred words to illustrate an idea with relevant examples and evidence. A very easy read given how information is given out in short chunks and you can immediately apply it to your thinking straight away.

So I saw the piece on the Guardian: There’s a disaster much worse than Texas. But no one talks about it. Which following on from reading the book by Dobelli, you learn that large media corporations display traits of cherry picking: choosing stories that matter to them most (Storm in Texas) and selling it as news and disregarding other disasters that may have a much larger magnitude of impact (floods in South Asia). Hardly surprising if you can imagine if you are a American writing the article, the story about the storm and deaths on your side of the land is more personal and right in your backyard and may have immediate impact on your life rather then the floods in Asia.

And then there’s potentially the best advice from the book: The News Illusion: Why you shouldn’t read the News. One, most news hardly matter. Two, news is a waste of time. Three and lastly, our brains react to news; stimulated by shocking ones (Brexit; Twin Towers; Charlies Gard) and sedated by complex information (Ads, Changes to Tax rules). Together, Rolf suggests that living a news-free world would help us build a clearer mind based on seeing what’s actually around us, listening to others and reading books and articles with more thought to it.

And there are some good mindfulness for the investor’s philosophy:

  • Decision Fatigue: Making decisions is mentally exhausting; Keeping investing simple and eliminate as many decisions that you have to make as much as possible
  • Survival Bias: We tend to overestimate success as we only hear stories of people who succeed. Perhaps we should try to look for the failures before the success and not disregard the people who failed for they have a certain courage to try anyway.
  • Cognitive Dissonance: Our minds reinterpret the situation in hindsight of a failure to convince ourselves otherwise. A sweet lie we tell ourselves.
  • Outcome Bias: We should never judge a decision by its result. A bad result does not necessary indicate a bad decision and vice versa.
  • The paradox of choice: More choices does not necessarily lead to better decisions. In choosing a life partner or perhaps in choosing which stock to buy. Good enough is good enough.

I think it will take me some more time to restudy this book and recognize the meanings behind each fallacy to the point where I can point it out in daily life.

In fact, I have been guilty of the Confirmation Biaswhen my boss told me I have been trying to fit in the test results of a patient with a particular diagnosis I had in mind. Ah well, human minds how complex.

Perhaps reading less news from now on will help.

-FIREplanter

 

 

AD 2017. Lighthouse for the Cruising Ship.

Living is nothing but consuming time until you die.

-Tehching Hsieh

I came across this performance art piece by Tehching Hsieh, a Taiwanese where he explored the meaning of time and living. Within a year from April 11, 1980 to April 11, 1981, he challenged himself to punch a time clock EVERY hour on the hour. In his ‘Timeclock’ piece, he recorded his progress every hour by taking a single film exposure. And then he compressed into a 6 mins video of art.

As crazy as it sounds, 24 punches per day for 356 days equals 8760 hours that he has to be awake to punch the time clock on the hour. I think he only managed to get 8627 mugshots, which meant that he missed 133 punches. All basic societal routine is thrown out, in terms of sleeping, eating, being free to roam about and this brings his interaction to time as close as it can be.  This is in essence watching a deliberate human interaction with time and his reflection on his experience shows how we can reinterpret living and time.

Notes:

  1. Notice how he wears a prisoner-esque clothing, perhaps to reflect the ‘Life Sentence’.
  2. Missing 133 time records in his piece either due to human failure or mechanical failure. Very reflective of how life experience is.
  3. Doesn’t this remind you of everyone around us, punching timeclocks as our daily routine? We are a slave to this then. There are some freedoms we cannot attain.

I punch time for every hour; its repetition but another way to see it, its is not repetition because it’s a new hour

In life we are in a process

 And here I am punching my time clock. If life is as bleak and simple as he breaks it down to be, I think it is up to ourselves to fill in all the bits in between punching the time clock to make it what it meaningful to ourselves and to have to freedom to fill it up with what we value and find important.

Lighthouse for 2017!

There are certain goals I would like to set out to try to get myself going a little. I don’t want to be too focused on attaining too far-fetched goals but hopeful this can be a guide to give me direction when I get lost in my journey (too often this has happened in the past). This are some financial ones I have set out in a forum I am part of:

1) Save £15 000 in 2017
2) See Dividend in 2017 increase compared to 2016
3) Keep outgoings at a similar level compared to 2016
4) Complete a full years worth of accounts, including Savings Rates, Outgoings
5) Read at least 5 Books
6) Join Park Run and get it going.

Others I want to include to keep exploring myself and help me grow as a person:

7) Produce a short film (A simple one will do)
8) Travel more – Crazy idea to plan a hike from Chamonix-Zermatt (Hey if you are not going to do it when you are in your 20s, when are you going to do it?)
9) Write more. Poems, Prose, anything.
10) Spend time with people I love (more than anything, it helps you learn about yourself)

I think like FI, many other things in life needs that bit of planning and visualizing and working towards before you arrive there. For some, it might come naturally or society has pre-programmed it into most, but for others it will take some exploration and deliberation. No one said it was easy.

I am curious what else I will encounter in 2017. And you?

-FIREplanter

2016 in Review

The year of 2016 has been a year of growth, in many aspects of life. Financially, relationships, goals, prospects, meaning…

The FI journey is important in that you need to evaluate what is important in your life first and foremost. Most things in life we have is finite, time, money, food, resource.. The earlier you realise that the earlier you can focus on living in the moment and investing for the future.

The principles you value, the friends you enjoy just being with, the people you meet along the way that you look at them with your heart and think these are beautiful people with beautiful lives. The key thing though is that you need to live to figure these out. My predilection for stories, fiction or not and the moral of the story helps in some way to gain some sort of insight (whether true or false).

Net Savings

monthly-cash-savings-bar-chart

It seems that I am doing fairly well being in positive balance most months of the year. The missing months of July and August is down to poor record keeping. However because of how I track my net cash worth, it will likely reflect in the following months values, hence the yearly net savings value should still be fairly accurate.

One method I found that was very motivating for helping me keep up to speed on a monthly basis was to join a savings community online. There are various threads over at the MoneySavingExpert Forums where people keep each other motivated with their monthly savings and what’s been happening in their various lives that makes savings difficult or easier. Unfortunately, this is not so much as an exciting topic over dinner with friends or mates over beer, hence I have to do it over the online community to gain some encouragement.

Portfolio

portfolio-volatility

My YTD value of my portfolio is up just about 12%. How well have I done compared to the indices?? Worst than some, better than some… Does it really matter? Perhaps. Would it change anything I do? I hope I have better sense than that. I am waiting for a bear market at a appropriate circumstances where I am in a stable financial situation to sort out my mentality with regards to risk. That would be the real test of my mettle I reckon.

This is all really a big ‘experimentation’. I mean you can only know how much you hate or enjoy the rollercoster only after you have experienced it right? However, better buckle up my safety harness!

 

Decade of Deaths, Weddings, and all the rest.

2016 is also the year when my granddad passed away. This was a fairly novel experience for me and my generation and it has taught me some lessons. There are people you love, and you want to be with them when they need you. You want to be able to be with them when they need you. That is important. Two of my friends my age had similar experiences as well and I think I can see some similar reflections on their part. This will happen more often from now on, this is inevitable.

The ages of 20s is also when there are numerous wedding invitations flying across through the mail and where social media is just flooded with wedding photos. I attended 2 of them myself this year and I took it more of an opportunity to reminiscence with old friends and also to figure out what it is all about. I enjoyed it immensely but hope not to get caught up in the hype. I really wished them all well and hope to see them do well themselves.

So the Decade of 20s is now known as the decade of Deaths and Weddings.. Perhaps by the late 20s, I will be used to this.

Imagine a Life of You and I

Everlasting Strawberry Summers

Sneezing at pink blossoms

Sharing stories like no tomorrow of soft rye, work and  adventure

Morning coffees on rain fell weekends

Late night brews and chats

Train rides across the city

Napping in front of moving pictures

The heart yearns for The silhouette of my dreams and likewise the mind is occupied

yet Life is such a stoic existence that the only way is to

Swallow that bittersweet feeling and call it living

Pieces of Me by haleshine

I hope you had a decent 2016. Time provides all and takes all in the end. Enjoy the journey.

-Fireplanter