For those traders who watch the market closely, who are monitoring streaming quotes and rolling Level II screens on a regular basis, one of the more captivating aspects of trading is the experience of time. The "now-it's-here-now-it's-gone" nature of quotes flickering from moment to moment on the monitor coaxes me to come into the vibrant present. Even when I'm not actively trading, I like to have quotes running on one monitor as a way to keep me centered on the present. The boxes of color constantly changing from red to green in a random pattern keep me on my temporal toes. Ask any trader what brings him back day after day to his trading platform. The need to process a lot of information quickly can be quite intense, requiring focused concentration for prolonged periods. Between the interactive excitement with the trading platform stimuli and having money on the line, it's easy to see how traders, given sufficient capital and a modicum of success, thrive on the action. I'm convinced that one of the more addictive qualities of trading is this edge of excitement, tinged with anxiety, that is the common experience for active traders. It is this excitement, along with actual rushes of adrenaline shooting through the body, that hooks active traders into coming back day after day. Without these feelings of excitement that the mind and body enjoy, it's difficult to make sense of how traders can dedicate themselves on a daily basis to focusing their attention on flickering numbers.
The Here-and-Now Comes and GoesLearning how to stay present with streaming quotes takes some practice. A lot of information is coming at once -- real-time charts, news and various other data. All of this makes it easy for the trader to end up on the edge between excitement and anxiety.
Most of us are not very comfortable staying in the present for very long. We tend to distract ourselves quickly from feeling the full weight of the here-and-now. The mind begins to wander, to want to interpret the data by jumping into the future. One of the things that makes trading exciting is that we are often on the figurative (and sometimes literal) edge of our seats. We are always caught between the here-and-now and a subtle tension that nudges us into the future. I've described this by saying we're always slouching into the future. Of course I'm talking not only about trading here but also about the larger template of our lives. But slouching into the future is especially poignant during trading, and it can be instructive for traders. It almost seems as if human nature is to want to lean into the next moment. Watch your own mind move into the future during the trading day. Notice how often you're thinking about what's coming up next -- the next movement of the stock, of the market, of the news, of your own needs and daydreams from moment to moment.