Gretchen Rubin

Constantly checking the stock market does not bring happiness.

Today, I found myself unable to resist the urge constantly to check the stock market. I’m no finance whiz, so it’s not as if the Dow Jones Industrial Average number is terribly meaningful to me, other than to know that up is good, down is bad, and very down is very bad.

When I was writing in a coffee shop, I kept checking my laptop. When I was working out at the gym, I kept looking at the screens of people watching CNBC. When I got home, I kept checking.

I realized that this wasn’t productive or helpful. In many cases, it’s important to read bad news, because it’s necessary to being an informed citizen. But in this case, I was a rubbernecker on the economic highway, unable to stop myself from slowing down to watch the wreck.

As a consequence, I was making myself unhappy. Each time I saw the bad numbers, I got hit by a wave of anxiety – what did this mean? At the same time, I was frittering away my valuable time, and to no purpose; this kind of constant monitoring wasn’t telling me anything that I couldn’t find out at the end of the day. I’m not working in the market myself.

Nevertheless, even though I could see that this behavior wasn’t helpful, especially from a happiness-project perspective, I just couldn’t resist. On a brighter note: as I write this, the news has gotten better than it was several hours ago. I know that because I just checked. Again.

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If you're in the mood to read about personal finance, check out Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, and Wise Bread. All members of the fabulous LifeRemix network, too.

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Interested in starting your own Happiness Project? If you’d like to take a look at my Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. No need to write anything more than “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.

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