Read Choose Yourself! Online

Authors: James Altucher

Tags: #BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS / Entrepreneurship, #SELF-HELP / Personal Growth / Success

Choose Yourself! (17 page)

BOOK: Choose Yourself!
7.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I don’t have a “K”. My brain is hurting. You might say I’m a dreamer. Or something like that. But if you can come up with a good “K” to help me round this out into ten ideas I’d be really grateful, and if I ever make a company out of it that makes a few billion dollars I’ll give you a small piece of the company and part of my Klout score. Please follow me on Twitter so my Klout score goes up. I love you.


Do you really think you are going to change anyone’s mind? I always wonder, who are these people who spend all day on Internet message boards and comments sections getting really angry and trying to prove that their opinion is THE opinion that everyone should have.

And yet, we all get sucked in. Some anonymous teenager from Dubai might throw out an opinion that rubs us the wrong way and the next thing we know it’s forty-eight hours later and we are in a drugged-out daze having spent the entire time peeing in a bottle and arguing in vain with this Internet troll. I wish I could say now, “So I went out and interviewed eighty-seven trolls and here is what they are really like.” But I didn’t. Because the trolls disappear. There are 7 billion people on the planet. The guy who disagreed with you is one of them. Good luck finding him.

What is the purpose of an opinion? To prove you’re right? You’re wrong.

Sometimes I get sucked in. Sometimes I write an article and people start saying the vilest things. I have no idea who they are, or even what their problems are, and yet I feel compelled to respond. I get sucked in. I feel so horrible about what they are saying. And when I finally come up for air, it’s three days later and I think to myself, “what the hell have I just done.”

I’m trying to eliminate things. Not just material belongings I no longer need or never really needed to begin with, but all those things we’ve been taught from birth are “important” or “our way of life” that have actually become burdens and wastes of time because we cling to them and protect them like they are more precious than the time and energy we waste protecting them.

Opinions are a way of clinging to the past. To some belief system our parents instilled in us, our education system “taught” us, our corporate masters forced on us, our peer group shoved down our throats, or some other brainwashing/programming that was implanted into our brain. If I have an opinion, you can gladly take it from me. Here’s why:

A) Nobody is ever going to change his mind.
For instance, if I say something like
“kids shouldn’t go to college,”
everyone either already agrees with me or disagrees with me. Very few minds will be changed no matter how correct I am (and I am correct). Here are some of my other opinions: buying a home is
. Voting is stupid. Shakespeare is Boring. ZERO wars have been justified. Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana should be handed over to the Jews and they should move from Israel to the United States. There! Go argue with that one.

B) One hundred years from now, everyone reading this book will be dead.
I know there is a lab-coat army working in
trying to change this. But, trust me, it won’t work. Science has its limits. And after seeing the shit you eat, don’t count on being alive fifty years from now, let alone a hundred.

A year or so ago, a guy I didn’t like died. We used to argue all the time over our opinions. Now he’s dead. I guess I won. After he died it was amazing how many people wrote long, gushing tributes to him. One guy who told me that he was sexually harassed by the dead person wrote the most gushing one of all. Maybe they ended up having sex and it was wonderful. I don’t know. I have no opinion on that one.

Which brings me to the more important issue: what if we argue and then you die? What if you have a heart attack while you are arguing with me? Is it my fault then? I don’t want that kind of guilt on my conscience.

C) Us versus Them.
World Wide Web
(“triple dub” for those in the business) has created this oozing lava of “Us” versus “Them.” What happened before there were message boards? Before there were “threads”? Or hypertext?

Whenever some guy says something very hateful I imagine: what was it like the first time that person kissed his wife? Did a warm gush of chocolate fill his heart? Did he say to himself, “This second, I am the happiest man alive?” Did he have an erection? Did she kiss him softly on his lips and then his cheek and then his neck? And then, erection intact, did he log onto the Internet as “Guest” and post, “James Altucher is a fucking

D) Why educate people?
In poker you can spot the amateur at the table if they complain when they lose a hand. They’ll look at the guy who won the hand and say, “You are so stupid! You played that hand totally wrong. You just got lucky.” And they might be right. But the reason that it’s an amateur (and insecure) move is because you WANT people to play the hand wrong. You want them to play the hand wrong every single time so that the odds stay in your favor if you don’t go insane. What do you gain from calling them out, educating them on their foolishness?

Only worry about your own happiness, which doesn’t have to be limited by anyone else’s stupidity unless you allow it to be.

E) I could be reading a book.
Time is also a limited resource. You can respond to a comment on Facebook with an opinion no one will care about in a hundred years, or you can do something. Right now. You can take a walk by the river. Or you can kiss someone. Or you can jump on a trampoline.

I went to a trampoline place a few weeks ago. Little kids were running up to this slanted trampoline and doing flips. I wanted to do that. But I’m too old. Kids aren’t afraid of doing a flip and breaking their necks and then being paralyzed for life. But as soon as I’m in the air, all I can imagine is my neck snapped off from the rest of my body. Would I pay anything to return to that age when I still wet the bed but could do a flip on the trampoline? No. Never. That would be a waste of my time. But I love myself anyway.

F) Loneliness.
I think most people fight because they are alone. There’s nothing we can do about loneliness in the material world. We’ve been trapped in these bodies since birth. But we try. We want people to agree with us so that for a brief second we can feel good about ourselves, establish a connection, and then make slow, sweet love.

Only the third part doesn’t really happen. But we think it will. There are better ways to combat my loneliness than to hold onto an opinion that makes me the same as the other 49.9 percent of the world who share that opinion.

G) I’m always wrong.
I have never had a correct opinion. I don’t even know what a correct opinion smells like. When I first wrote in a prior book that zero wars can be justified, someone mentioned some Polynesian war from “Before Christ,” or the Peloponnesian war. I don’t know. Some war from two thousand years ago. I don’t remember; I wasn’t listening to his stupid opinion. See! That’s what happens with opinions. Even I’m guilty of it.

Opinions are like money. No matter how much you know, there’s always someone who knows more. And they aren’t afraid to flaunt it. I have no credentials on anything. My education is hopelessly outdated. And my ten-year-old child constantly corrects me. The other day I tried to convince her that the United States was a republic and not a democracy. But she wouldn’t change her opinion (see “A” above) even though I was telling her a FACT. When I give an opinion, I know that opinion works for me, right then. But that’s about it. I don’t always need to fight for the glory.

H) Hold your breath.
Try holding your breath for just thirty seconds. That’s all it takes.
Try it right now
while you are looking at this line. Now…on the twenty-ninth second, do any opinions matter?

I) Less.
I’m trying to have fewer things in my life right now. This doesn’t always mean fewer trinkets that shine on a shelf. It also might mean fewer things that upset me. Fewer people who bother me. Fewer regrets about things that are long dead and buried. Fewer anxieties about a future that may or may not exist. I find that if I dig deep and throw away one thing a day, then I wake up the next day a little more peaceful. I don’t need to have so many opinions. The fight will continue with or without me.

J) Bewildered.
I like to try this exercise: every time I have a judgment about something, I change the punctuation at the end of the judgment from an exclamation point to a question mark. “She should do this!” becomes, “She should do this?” Or “Obama should legalize crack!” becomes “Obama should legalize crack?” And, dare I say it, “Nobody should go to elementary school anymore because it’s a brainwashing concentration camp posing as a glorified babysitting service!” becomes “Really?”

Just try it. It’s fun. Walk around bewildered all day. It’s much more peaceful.

“That guy shouldn’t shove me!” becomes “That guy shouldn’t shove me?” We live in a strange world. Every day, a labyrinth to explore. Clues to unfold. It’s like you wake up in the dentist’s chair and get thrown out into the street. The light is strange, your eyes are dilated (because of those eye drops the dentist keeps forcing on me when I’m unconscious), you’re groggy, people are very, very busy walking around you, paying with the currency of unhappiness now in order to reach their glorious futures someday…maybe.

And you wonder, what happens if I just sit here? If I enjoy the sunlight hitting me? If I laugh at the dilated, fuzzy, people? If I cry myself to sleep in your arms, before you become angry again and you try to beat me and strangle me with an electric cord?

The point is, don’t focus on those things in the material world that you cannot control or possibly ever change, when you can focus on inner health, on your inner world, on the things that matter.


I disgust myself. When I was six, I used to make fun of one kid for being heavier than me. When I was seven, I made fun of a kid for being Chinese. He was the only Chinese kid in the neighborhood. I was a seven-year-old racist. He was so upset that the principal had to talk to me. The punishment: we had to ride with each other on the bus every day. He was more upset about this than I was.

When I was nine, I was caught shoplifting football cards, which put an end to a successful, yearlong crime spree that included stealing everything from candy to Charlie Brown books to
books to baseball cards. My parents were so angry that they cancelled my upcoming birthday party. Then they never let me have one again. I still don’t have birthday parties. Because I stole a football card.

I did lots of things. Things much later. Ugh. I can hardly think of it. The things that I would do. I’m like a psychopath or sociopath when I really get down to it. Worst of all, I go to the bathroom. I’ve never seen a more disgusting thing than my own human body going to the bathroom. Ugh.

Google: I need to talk to you about this! You are making a car that drives without a driver. You are making glasses that wire my brain right into the Internet. Why the hell can’t you make it so I don’t have to shit? Like, can’t I wear glasses that do photosynthesis from the sun and turn it into nutrition for my body? Nutrition with no waste. Why, for everything I eat, do I have to generate waste? This is almost proof that Satan exists.

And even worse, some of the waste gets stuck. If you’re not yet my age (forty-four) you’ll soon know what I’m talking about. It gets stuck forever. I’ve switched diets recently. No carbs. No processed sugars. Not even gluten-free stuff, which is all a scam. And, I have to say, the quality of what comes out of me has become much better. Nor do I feel as stuffed.

So, okay, glass half full. Right?

Let me tell you the real bad news, though it won’t seem that way. Our alien ancestors who created us also created simple tools (call them “triggers,” if you will) so we can reprogram our bodies to be happy. What does happy mean? It means various chemicals get manipulated throughout the body. Cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is the fight-or-flight hormone. So, like, when you are sitting at your desk staring at a computer screen and you are worried your boss is going to yell at you, your cortisol levels are going through the roof.

In other words, your body wants to do what it would’ve done twenty thousand years ago (a microsecond in our evolutionary history) and basically run away as fast as possible or physically destroy whatever is scaring you. Fight or flight. Note the “OR.” There really isn’t an in-between that says, “Don’t move and simply stare at your computer screen while you are simmering in unrequited anger and frustration.” That wasn’t part of the evolutionary plan. That’s probably what the Neanderthals did—and look at what happened to them. They’re dead. Every last one of them.

So what do you do, in our modern day and age? You sit there, you stare at the computer screen, you maybe type some words, but then your brain is distracted. You can’t think. Your cortisol is through the roof and nothing is working it off. That’s really horrible. The cortisol needs to be worked off. Or else. You are royally *******. You can get cancer, heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s, the whole works.

And if you are like me—if you are like most people—then chances are this is happening to you every day. Here’s what happens. The vagus nerve stretches from your brain to your stomach and hits every organ along the way (almost). It gets inflamed when your cortisol levels are too high for too long. The vagus nerve basically causes every disease known to mankind. High stress inflames it, as does bad food, smoking, etc. You get the drift.


Oxytocin, another hormone that the body is more than happy to release. Oxytocin performs two very important functions that allow the human race to continue. Both of these functions have various, beneficial, side effects.

1) Oxytocin is released when you have an orgasm. For men, interestingly, it is only released when you have an orgasm with someone you love.

BOOK: Choose Yourself!
7.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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