Many traders in the United States use the performance of the S&P 500, including myself. The Standard & Poor's 500 is a great benchmark to try to beat every day the markets in the US are active. In fact, once you can beat the S&P consistently on a month to month basis, you are pretty well setup to become a trader, or if you already are, increase your positions for higher returns. If you are new to trading, or have never traded before, try paper-trading or sign up for a stock trading simulator and try to beat the S&P. If you can, this little boost of confidence is nice, and mainly overlooked. Beating the S&P shouldn't be hard, its gains and losses aren't that substantial for your overall portfolio.
What are your best gains? And which trading vehicles did you use to accomplish that?