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Identifying with Joy

Christmas came like a breath of fresh air, a respite from the tense atmosphere of the face mask wearing pandemic. Publicly the world is divided, with many unable to obtain the freedoms and rights they used to enjoy in the pre-Covid 19 world. Older people, the unvaccinated, and the vaccinated but unhealthy all face fears, distortions to their perceived liberty (or lack of). Even children are potentially at the brink of agreeing to the choices of their government and parents, or face restrictions which will certainly be unexplainable to our young generation.

Yet Christmas came, hope came. For that one season to rest and collect oneself, I had time to spend indoors and with family. In safe companionship.

That left me to ponder, how do I invite Joy at every momentary awareness, into my being.

It was serendipitous therefore that a good friend would approach me to share about his cycles of stress whenever he enters a paid trading simulation platform, which requires him to pass a series of tests in a simulated trading environment before qualifying him to be a professional currency trader. During the conversations, we discussed the importance of identity. In his case, his ego linked passing the tests as the doorway to being recognized as a "professional trader" instead of his current part-time or hobbyist approach to trading. It was also probably stressful for him because he had invested over a year of time, money and effort towards this endeavor and saw professional trading as his career goal.

We discussed why he was reverting to a stress-free situation so that he could concentrate on finetuning the investment and emotions management processes. This was when I became curious why reverting to trading with his own money as opposed to a one-time payment to enter the trading contest was considered stress-free. It turned out that the identity of being a "professional trader" was what my friend desired and the stage gate process of attaining the title meant that money-at-risk was not the stressor, but the associated sense of failure or failing to turn pro, became the stress trigger.

We continued the conversation and talked about changing perspectives to shift our mental framework and specifically his cognitive distortion which went like this: I'm a failure if I cannot qualify for this series of tests in the contest, which means I am not a professional trader and that means I am not good enough.

Fact checks at this point may have worked out, but if a person holds firm beliefs that the distortion is a truth, then the mind does wonders to spin justifications and excuses to hold this truth.

I shared with him my experience as I used to aspire to be a professional fund manager and one day start my own venture capital fund. The first identify shift I had was instead of saying that I took a mortgage loan for my property, I began to call myself a professional investment banker, who had succeeded in arranging for a loan from a blue chip bank, to invest in property. Everyone at some point in their lives would have some form of loan or credit card debt. Essentially a loan or credit extended to any person deems the person to be "qualified" to a limited amount of funds to use at the person's discretion. I adopted this mindset which began to shift my perspective in how I used my funds, and how I invested them.

Likewise I shared with my friend my second identity shift. I used to call myself a shareholder of a company I bought stocks in. I would be a retail investor. In framing my mind to be a professional fund manager, I called myself a co-owner of a portfolio of companies most of which were mega cap stocks worth billions of dollars.

This gave me the confidence and belief that I was already who I wanted to be, and anything beyond which was to be incremental growth (as opposed to bridging a distant divide).

For my friend, I suggested some ways to already be seen as a professional trader. One I could conjure up on the fly, was to create the identity that by investing real money to trade, he was already a money manager and that qualifies him as a "professional" already. He left to think through what identity he could come up with, because once that was done, he would have to reinforce that daily (and as often within the day as possible), by verbalizing the identity to himself, and importantly to make small declarations to friends and people around him. "Hi, my name is...., I am a professional currency trader!"

We spoke about other tools to calm himself before placing trades but this led me to ponder about the post Christmas desire, how do I invite Joy to my life?

The question explores the factors which make it conducive for joy to be an ever present in my state of awareness.

I reckon the key ingredient is to identify myself as a joyful person. What does it take to be joyful? I asked myself and immediately the face of my 3 year old son popped up.

I visualize Joy as a young child. He has a sense of wonder, curiosity and awe for all things ordinary. Even the puddles of water after a rainy day is a chance for amusement. Joy assumes the best that is, rather than fixate on what could have been. Joy is present even in the presence of suffering, he waits patiently for the next window of opportunity to point to a brighter side of things, to look for moments of consolations and to be grateful for the wisdom which sorrow brings.

I hug Joy and embrace him and ask myself what traits do I desire in me, to have this same joy in my life?

The wisdom that came was to be curious, be in awe, and be grateful. I next thought about what or who identifies with these 3 qualities? Instinctively I went back to the image of my child and realised to have joy in my life, my identity was to be that child. Perhaps my 3 year old self, or a vision of what my 3 year old child would do.

I visualise myself in the garden of My Guest House, and I was that 3 year old child playing with Joy. The 3 year old me hugged Joy and laughed gleefully. In that embrace, I soaked in the energy of Joy, imagining a glowing bubble of yellow warm light enveloping me, from the top of my head, down to the tip of my toes.

Each time I'm mindful, or when I start my day, I bring my inner child to my present moment, and breathe in this yellow warm light. I'm a fun loving child again.

That's me identifying myself with Joy.

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