July 11, 2019

Once I was told that my 401K can be down as much as 30% and I should do a re-allocation. As I stare at the numbers on my most recent statement, it seems all the numbers are quite arbitrary. As far as I know, my 401K down by 30% has not affected my life at all – at least in this moment. The only impact it had on me is creating some questions and concerns in my mind. So who decides the worth of my retirement account anyways? The stock market? What is a stock market, a building with a bunch of computer screens and screaming people? Or the investment firms and the retirees and average investors they represent? How did it all get decided? If you get a chance, go on one of those “live” stock website or business channel and watch the flashing numbers and price curves move½. look at all the red line, green line, the solid line, the dotted line, and the triangles and arrow pointing here and pointing there, and ½.Apple, Google½. parading in front of you. To me, every bump and jitter represents the turbulent clashes of our collective desire and fear – the desire to make money and the fear to lose – all built on the idea of using money to make money and measuring reality by numbers. I am not against money, it is “form” that we all need and I welcome lots of it! Perhaps it is fine to measure money with number, but when we start talking about worth – beyond the financial sense of the word – serious trouble begins. The West is obsessed with the idea of self-esteem which to me is just a self-assigned value or worth that measures who we are. People blame their failure on low self-esteem; people try to succeed in life by getting high self-esteem. The Dalai Lama mentioned that one of the most surprising realization for him about the West is that so many people seem to have a strong hatred for themselves. What happened to all our effort to raise our self-esteem? what happen to our self-worth? Seriously what is our true worth? Can it ever be measured by numbers or in some comparative, descriptive terms? The whole concept of self-worth or self-esteem could be just a trap. Having become obsessed with it has not help us much. To me, our true worth is nothing more and nothing less than the thoughts we give to it; it does not go beyond the thoughts. So if we really want to discuss self-worth or self-esteem, we must first ask a more fundamental question. How much is my thought worth to me?