I get such a kick out of financial reporters and analysts who rush to come up with THE business reasons for a falling stock market: “It’s the disappointing returns of XYZ company – 30 cents below forecast!” or “It’s because oil is going up” or “Oil is going down” or “Oil is going sideways”.

But did so many companies suddenly get inherently less valuable than the day before? Of course not. That’s because it’s not about the day-to-day business…it’s about perceptions – and about expectations.

Honestly…on any given day if the masses suddenly decide 14.5 times price earnings for a stock in one sector is too high and yet 43.7 times in another sector is ok…is any of this tangible? It’s all about how we think the stock will do or the sector or the market as a whole. When Google had no earnings, did that stop people from buying? Nope. And they were right…despite the hard time tech stocks went through during the burst expectations bubble. They had expectations Google would be a winner – and it is. But it hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride.

But then who said the stock market would ever be a smooth ride? Money is made on the way up AND on the way down.

Now Zen philosophy tells us to let go of expectations otherwise we are so wedded to the idea of things turning out as we want, we are living in the future and not in the “now”. Plus, we set ourselves up for disappointment if we hold on to expectations that things have to go precisely our way. A lot of ego stuff getting in the way of our happiness with that kind of thinking! There are so many ways things can go that may in the end be better for us – even though it might not be exactly as we envisioned it. In fact, it probably won’t. We can’t see the whole picture in a given moment.

In contrast, folks who espouse philosophies of positive-thinking say we create our lives as we see them. (Man that’s a lot of responsibility.) And if they don’t turn out as we hoped, we just need to buckle down and learn to attract more positive energy to ourselves through our own thoughts.

Well…I don’t care how hard we think about it, the market will go up and it will go down. At any given time while we’re thinking “Go up! Go up!”, there are a bunch of people in short positions thinking “Go down! Go down!” So, in the short run, you might make money and you might not. But in the long run, odds are the market will continue to rise. And that is the nature of the market as well as what we expect and what our minds see as the way it will be. So a little for all sides here.

But here’s the point…if we go into investing tied to the expectation that our investments must go up following the time-line we have for it in our heads, then it will be a frustrating game at the very least. And of that I’m positive!