Some celebrated the Dow Jones (INDEX: ^DJI) finally closing above 13,000 yesterday, but another more-meaningful milestone was recently reached. Adjusted for dividends, the Dow is at an all-time high, surpassing its nominal record set in October 2007:

Source: S&P Capital IQ, using dividend-adjusted returns of SPDR Dow Jones Industrial ETF.

What does this mean? Like Dow 13,000, not much. It's a psychological milestone that tells us nothing about value, opportunity, or what might happen next.

But what it does say loud and clear: Patient investors win. After the deepest recession since the Great Depression and a near collapse of the global financial system, it took just four years for investors who bought at the very top to recoup their losses. Those who scooped up bargains along the way have done far better.

How have you done over the past four years?

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.