I recently received a call from a company conducting a poll. As you might expect this time of year, it was about political issues. I was driving my car and I had the time, so I consented to answering the questions (safely and hands-free, of course.) It was, if nothing more, a lesson in bias, how we make choices today, and the value of the neutral mind. So, the first question was: “will you be voting for a Democrat or Republican for Governor?” I explained that we had not had the primary elections, so I didn’t even know who would represent the parties mentioned. Further, I commented that someone may well run for the office that represented a third or even fourth party that I thought would better run the State. The caller explained that this survey offered only two choices. Well, in that case, I said, I’ll need to decide based on who has the friendliest dog! Perhaps for the best, the survey didn’t last much longer; I quickly turned my attention to “Funky Cha-Cha” by Arturo Sandoval playing on my car’s stereo. Life is more than labels In some very critical areas of our lives it seems we are “required” to choose red or blue, left or right, pro this or anti that. Why? It’s interesting how we often willingly apply and accept labels — and subsequently feel the need to act in a way that would be appropriate to that label. Humans are more than labels – and so are human issues. As such, it’s interesting to watch media outlets – especially social media — blow up on a divisive topic in mere minutes. Are the responses real, or people simply reacting to how they feel others think they should? Also, in a world where a person feels they can become a constitutional law “expert” in less time than it takes to decide what to order from a fast food menu — it may be a good idea to start applying a more neutral mind. Investing is always more than just two choices The same is true of finance and investing. As a financial advisor, I would find myself out of work quickly if I offered a client only two choices. Even the thought is ridiculous! Portfolios usually consist of a variety of investments that work together to create a solid and complete solution, and are specific to the unique individual. So how do we arrive to a more neutral point of view when it comes to complex decisions, financial or otherwise? Gaining value from the neutral mind One way to analyze this is through Yogic/Yoga philosophy, which states we have three minds: The negative or protective mind, which allows us to see the consequences of our actions The positive or expansive mind, which allows us to see optimism The neutral mind, where we take information from the other two minds to make a conclusion I’m no expert on these three minds; in fact, raising my child during her teenage years may have caused me to lose all three some time ago. However, it is an interesting observation on decision making. Think about how focusing on either the negative or positive mind – and the emotions attached to them – adds bias to your choices. Writer Catie Joyce says “We constantly evaluate our world throughout our day. We have to; it’s part of human nature and its survival. However, too often evaluation becomes judgment. Judgment becomes bias. Bias leads us down the path of whatever emotion is tied to that bias, be it resentment, guilt, or even joy.” The value proposition here is to develop strong decision making habits through intuition. For example, when someone thinks of posting something biased and hateful on social media – they think of both the positive and negative mind and intuitively know to hold back and evaluate that decision. This, in turn, can help you make sound decisions in life, relationships, and finance! September 2018 Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Investing involves risk including loss of principal.