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George Kinder, a financial writer, explains how mindfulness can help investors to be more aware of their emotions...



RP: The last few years have seen a big increase in the popularity of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a state of mind created by focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

George Kinder is a financial writer, and trains financial advisers. He has practised mindfulness for more than 50 years.

GK: So it’s a training in paying attention. And you’re paying attention in here. You’re paying attention, in a way, to who you are. You’re paying attention to these moments where you feel wonderful, these moments where you feel frustrated, these moments where you feel fearful or anxious or guilty or shameful, which we all have as human beings.

The primary practice that is taught in mindfulness is to really focus on the present moment, which as you know is impossible to do because it keeps disappearing on you. But what that does is that it makes you much quicker in the moment, much clearer in the moment, much more capable at a moment’s notice to focus and be present, so you’re really much more alert.

RP: One of the mistakes investors commonly make is they allow their emotions to get the better of them.

By making you more aware of your emotions, mindfulness can help you control them.

GK: The most common pattern in investing is not to buy low and sell high, which is the smartest thing to do. The most common pattern in investing is that we all buy high, when everybody’s enthusiastic about something, and then we sell low when everybody’s pessimistic about something. So what happens, that’s driven by greed and fear. What mindfulness does is it creates more patience, more equanimity, more quietness, less reactivity. So you’re more able to be here, be present.

My main recommendation would be to, if you aren’t doing mindfulness, get a practice going. And if you are, I would double your practice time. And I think the third thing is find an advisor who’s trustworthy, because they will help settle you down. They have listening skills inside of them and they’ll help settle you down so you don’t make foolish mistakes.

RP: Mindfulness isn’t for everyone. And although it looks easy, it actually isn’t. It requires plenty of practice.

But if you invest the time required to learn it, George Kinder says you won’t regret it.

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