How a Taoist Would Deal with the Recession

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Growing up in an Asian culture, I was influenced by the traditions and concepts of Taoism (check out wikipedia’s page for more on the subject). With the outlook of our jobs and economy so grim, I’d like to talk about natural forces and balance, one of the central concepts of this philosophy that have influenced many for over two thousand years.

Taoist believe strongly that nature will always find its equilibrium. Relating that to more scientific and modern terms, it’s nothing more than:
1. What goes up must come down
2. When there’s darkness, light always follows

So Why Does This Matter David?

Look, job security means nothing these days and anything you own is basically depreciating in value like never before. However, it doesn’t mean that the economy will keep worsening forever. As fast as this downturn has come because we overextended ourselves in the past decade, there will be a time in the not too far future when the outlook will be rosy again. We have gone through tough times before and we’ve come out of it every single time. When there’s darkness, light always follows – it’s just nature at work.

Example of Taoism at Work

Taoist also believe that the universe works in its natural way and all should live within it without disrupting the harmony that exists. In simple terms, everyone should learn the dynamics and go with the flow instead of working against it. Knowingly or not, here are a few examples of people practicing this.

Gary, the Adaptable IT Executive

Money magazine had a great story of a IT Manager, Gary, who turned a downturn into a blessing in disguise. After working at Ford for 30 years, the automaker offered Gary half his salary as pension to retire. At age 55, Gary knew he probably wouldn’t be able to find a comparable job anytime quick, but he took the offer anyway thinking that the next one might not be nearly as good. Instead, he found a part time job scouting new businesses for a staffing agency to supplement his income. Result of him going with the flow? Similar income levels as his full time job and much more time for his family.

Learn from the Taoist

Taoism or not, going against the flow is always difficult. If you want to stop being the rock that is trying to remain stationary in a flowing river stream, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t be stubborn – Be flexible and you just might be able to make your own “Gary, the IT Executive story”. Bottom line – don’t always say no.
  2. Don’t be Afraid to try New Things – Look at the opportunities in front of you and don’t believe one bit that you have to stay in the same industry for the rest of your life. When the opportunity presents itself, be ready to move on. Just because you have a MBA in Finance doesn’t mean you can’t be a great project manager.
  3. Think Positively – Do you realize that your colleges aren’t complaining about their company and supervisors as much these days? How about all those coworkers who are much more cooperative with you? Not everything is so bad isn’t it?

When there’s Darkness, Light Always Follows

The next morning will come. Be rested and wake up when the sun is beaming on your face, be prepared with groceries so you can make your breakfast and most importantly, be ready for your job that still needs you.

Happy Monday.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • CD Rates says:

    Good post for bringing hope.

    Although, it does feel like we have no control.

    I don’t want to start a religious debate, but I believe there is a God that is in control. Sadly, others mistakes bear consequences that can and will affect others.

    We try to instill that in our kids. Your mistakes (and good deeds) cause ripples that affect and touch others. Strive to make those ripples, a postive effect.

    cd :O)

  • Neal Frankle says:

    This is another great positive message. Thanks David.

  • Perfect MOney Share Idea says:

    and remember to put this taoisme with the essence of yoga,the power of tao mostly there,include in the business practice,keep balance and stay “cool”

  • Perfect MOney Share Idea says:

    As Asian My self,I believe that faith about Tao,its not about religion ,it is about way of live,its about “be a good surfer of our life waive to keep control the downturn without over stress,to keep alert when “over confident having powerful economy happened,so lets embrace it ,let surf our economy waive with confident and let that “pain–Just —Flow

  • the weakonomist says:

    It’s great to see how various cultures seem to teach the same lesson. I read a post the other day that compared frugal advice from texts of old civilizations around the world. They all said it differently, but the message was clear: spend less than you make.

    Thanks for sharing a unique view on a troubled world.

  • TStrump says:

    It’s funny how beliefs that have been around for thousands of years seem to make so much more sense than modern ideas.
    Will we ever learn?

  • Sandy says:

    Balance and natural forces… I like that.

    I sincerely hope that people don’t lose hope in this market. Like you said perfectly “as dark as things are, light always follows”.

    Thanks again for an interesting post to start the week.

  • Praveen Puri says:

    This is a great post. I wish the mainstream media would write more posts like this.
    We don’t know when the recession will end, but it will sooner or later.

    I really believe in the Taoist idea that things in life fluctuate in cycles. For the markets, the “seasons” change between fear and greed.

    When people get too greedy, we reach a bubble peak. Then the bubble deflates. Now, people are getting afraid. When fear reaches its maximum, we will have the bottom.

  • ObliviousInvestor says:

    “When there’s darkness, light always follows”

    It may come quickly. It may not. Either way, it’ll be here eventually. 🙂

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