Will I ever have enough? This frantic, frightened question may have more of a bearing on our investing styles and temperaments than any of us realize. It also may have a negative impact on how we view investing -- and, ultimately, ourselves, regardless of what we have or achieve.
Beating Bernie Madoff
Last week, author Geneen Roth visited Fool HQ as part of our speaker series. Roth is a successful author who has long examined the meaning and motivation behind emotional issues with food. One of her many books, When Food Is Love, ranked No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list, and she has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, among others.
However, Roth brought another interesting story to the Fool involving a particular life experience she documents in her recent book, Lost and Found: She and her husband were among the people who lost their life savings to Bernie Madoff.
Most of us would consider that a horrible turn of events. Roth discusses the horror of "The Call," when she was told Bernie Madoff was nothing more than a fraud and had taken everything. She also talks frankly about feeling panic, terror, self-blame, and rage.
However, in the midst of this terrifying experience, Roth discovered a revealing truth: She hadn't lost anything truly valuable in her life at all.
Desperately searching for "enough"
Roth explores the meaning we attach to money, as well as to food. She observed that some of the ways many of us tend to view these things have similar emotional attributes, most of which are illusory and often reflect addiction and compulsion.
There are good reasons for all of us to wonder what "enough" is and how we define it. Are we constantly challenging ourselves to feel that we don't have enough, may never have enough, and have to obtain more, when in fact we have plenty?