As I've stated before on this forum, I'm not an economist. I regularly tune out when in it's time for the Wall Street report. I'm still waiting for the day when my large stock portfolio will cause me to be interested in the NASDAQ...

In fact, on those few occasions that I do pay attention to the market analysts, I don't understand much of what is being said. Take the current financial crisis as an example. The financial markets and the US dollar are plummeting because of the "sub-prime mortgage" catastrophe. Having no clue what a sub-prime mortgage is, I'm reduced to imagining an evil cabal plotting to destroy the American Dream by seducing naïve citizens to sign on the dotted line that will spell their eventual doom. These would be the same people who put poison in the candies they give to trick-or-treaters...

But a recent financial news story caught my attention. The Consumer Confidence Index has sunk to an all time low. The goal of the CCI is to gauge the mindset of the public vis-à-vis the current and short term future financial outlook. The results of their monthly survey are a reliable indicator of future spending habits, which has a huge effect on the state of the economy.

This month's reading was 64.5. Considering that any reading below 100 is viewed as negative, and that we have currently sunk to a five-year low, this is disturbing news, indeed.

There are many variables that affect the economy, many of which are beyond our control. But it turns out that our mindset – our optimism or pessimism, our saving or spending habits – plays a pivotal role in determining whether we will descend into recession or catapult back into economic expansion.

This principle is true in our personal lives as well. Our lives and wellbeing seem to be manipulated by a variety of influences. But in truth, our mindset and choice of reaction is more powerful than all these external forces combined.

If we fall into the trap of pessimism, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if we can muster the strength to think positively and remain optimistic, we can weather anything.