Embrace cycles | Marshall Shen

Embrace cycles

Embrace cycles

Cycles are all around us. Only when we are aware of them and seek to understand them, can we thrive with them.

Cycles are the foundation of nature: climate has four seasons; oceans raise tides and waves; plants sprout and wither. Cycles also power human civilization: the world economy goes through booms and busts; business grows and shrinks; families unite and argue; individuals experience happiness and pain.

The force of cycles are not visible if we live moment by moment, and only focus on what to do or how we feel at the moment. But when we take a step back and reflect on a more extended period, patterns emerge, and we see history repeats itself. It’s hard to detach and take a step back because our mind tends to focus on the day-to-day: we struggle with how we feel now, and we worry or plan actions for the imminent future.

If we make decisions without considering the force of cycles, we increase the possibility of making the wrong decisions. This is because such decisions tend to focus more on the short term impact, and that impact might not work well with the nature of a specific cycle. For example, if we get a job promotion with extra cash, we might feel it’s a great time to purchase a house with that increasing buying power. However, if the housing market has been booming for an extended period, we will likely pay a higher price for a property. The same buying power may worth more when the housing market is going through a recession cycle.

To embrace the nature of cycles, we can study trends in a longer timespan. To embrace our personal emotional cycle, we can keep a personal journal. Read our owns journals from a few years ago and observe how our inner experience has evolved. To embrace the economic cycle, study the economic trends for the last ten, twenty years, or even longer. Seek to understand the fundamental principles behind the world economy. The results of these actions are less important than the actions themselves. It’s hard to fully grasp the nature of our inner world, and impossible to completely decode the world economic machine. However, the act of seeking to understand them makes us more aware of the power of cycles, and hence help us make better decisions.

The long-term trend of a cycle is another crucial observation. It helps us to see the progression or regression of cycles over time. For example, our personal emotions go through cycles of ups and downs. We can reflect back and see much long-term progress we’ve made by staying in tune with emotions - what makes us happy ten years ago, and what makes us happy now. Another example, the world economy goes through cycles of boom and bust. But we can observe the overall progress of the world. How many populations of the country were in poverty thirty years ago? How many populations of the country are in poverty now? The long-term trend helps us understand whether a cycle is heading in the right direction.

What are your thoughts on the nature of cycles? What are some important cycles in your life, and how are you embracing them?