Do You Have to Be Rich to Be Honest?

Paris Hilton is promoting her own line of champagne Rich Prosecco[6]

I got this email a few months ago: “you must be TOTALLY LOADED to write the kind of stuff you do.”

Another person wrote me, “I’m not rich enough to be as honest as you are. I’d lose my job and customers.”

Finally, after I got several emails like this I asked someone back, “Why do you think I’m rich? Do you think someone needs to be wealthy in order to be honest?”

And the guy wrote back: “If you’re rich you don’t have to worry about what clients or customers or investors think about you. Or even what friends think about you. So you can say whatever you want.”

(maybe only Paris Hilton is honest)

 

By implication it must mean that everyone who thinks they are “poor” is lying to his friends, customers, bosses, etc. This is a horrible way to live, when the ego tightens around you like a straitjacket. Eventually it doesn’t end well. All of these friends will backstab you. Its happened to me. Repeatedly.

Honesty actually creates Wealth.

Henry Blodget asked me a few months ago, what happened in your writing? Why did it change all of a sudden?

I told him, “I decided to stop lying.”

He gave a nervous laugh (it has to be nervous. Was I lying to him? Was I committing crimes?). He asked, “what were you lying about?”

And I was stumped. I don’t really know what I was lying about. I had been lying about everything. To everyone. Forever. I couldn’t remember telling the truth.

I had basically been broken to the ground.  I had 16 out of 17 businesses fail. I survived divorce, losing a home, depression, people dying on me, not seeing my kids for long periods of time, investments fail, I was fired from about eight jobs simultaneously. What was the point? I was just going to write how I saw it. Screw it. It couldn’t get worse for me.

For 15 years I’ve been lying. Ralph (not his real name) used to call me up at 4 in the morning. He was a client of my first business. He needed advice about his job. I couldn’t stand him. In fact, at one point he borrowed a lot of money from me he never paid back. And he never paid his bills on time. I had to worry about payroll every month. So at 4 in the morning he’d call for advice and ask, “is now an ok time? I couldn’t sleep.” And I would always say, “of course it is.” When of course, it wasn’t. I was lying to him. And it made me hate him even more. And it made me hate myself even more.

You lose yourself when your ego takes charge like that.

I’ve lied quite a bit. To customers, to bosses, to employees, to girlfriends. It doesn’t work. It shows less pride in your work, less pride in yourself. It makes people hate you in the long run. It makes you less money. You have sex less.  You die earlier.

You’re better than that. You don’t need to blog all your failures and confess all your sins. Let me do that. I have fun with it. Just start small by exercising the honesty muscle.

How to exercise the Honesty Muscle:

Every now and then someone writes me and says “I broke the rules” on the Daily Practice. It’s ok to break the rules. It’s just a guideline really. But here’s an alternative.  A simplified version. And it uses the four legs of the Daily Practice to build the Honesty Muscle so you can slowly stop all of your lying. Because don’t BS me – you lie also.

If you ask these core honest questions (see below) to yourself every day then two things will happen:

A) It will lead to great honesty and confidence in every aspect of your life. And the more you ask the below questions, the more this honesty will increase. It will lower your center of gravity on the planet. So that wherever you stand, nobody can knock you over.

B) Your life will be completely different within six months and that difference will be measured in degrees of success.

Important: You don’t have to answer these questions, “yes!”. You just have to be aware when you are saying “No.” The more you are aware, ultimately the less “Nos”.

Physically:

A) Are you eating healthy? And you know what I mean! I eat that ice cream at 11pm at night also. No good!

B) Are you exercising? Are you keeping clean? Are you sleeping 7-8 hours a night?

C) Are you doing everything you can do so you don’t die an early death from liver or kidney or lung cancer? If you aren’t, then you are lying to yourself. If you lie to yourself, you’re going to lie to others. It’s a horrible spiral down a death trap. Why die earlier and with a lower quality of life than you have to?

This doesn’t mean you have to change everything today. Make one change a day. Pick the biggest lie. And make it honest. That’s all. But don’t BULLSHIT yourself here.  It’s ok if you’re not perfect, if you break the rules here and there. But don’t BULLSHIT. Be aware. Be AWAKE. If you aren’t the master of your thoughts then you are the slave.

And if you don’t want to change anything then at least you’re aware of where you are lying. That’s not a bad start. But make sure the start has a good End.

 

Emotionally:

A) Are you cheating on wife/partner/friends? Are you being good to your family? To your friends? Not in a way that drains energy from you but are you genuinely giving all you can without doing any draining?

B) Is anyone being abusive to you in any way? Very important to ask this every day so you can quickly begin the process of dealing with a crappy person.

C) Do you gossip?

D) Do you have any big lies going on that are hurting anyone? If so, stop. Its no good for you.  Trust me on this. It’s too stressful.

 

Important: Before, during, and after you say ANYTHING to anyone think to yourself: am I hurting this person in any way? This goes for employees, employers, customers, clients, friends, family, lovers, haters. This is part of honesty.

 

Mentally:

A) Are your ideas good or are you delusional and lying to yourself?

B) Do you honestly believe that what you are doing at work is helping people? If not, then quit your job or work activity and get a new one. We just had a very hard decade. Everyone’s been shot through brain, the heart, the stomach. We all need a little help. Make sure what you do helps a little bit. You might not be able to save a live every day but at least wake up in the morning and ask, “can I save a life today?”  Who are you asking? Who cares!

C) Are you doing your idea lists each day? This helps build up your bullshit detector so you can answer “A” above more carefully.

D) Are your expectations of yourself too low? Raise them a little each day. It’s not honest with yourself if you keep saying, “I canʼt”. Thats a bullshit line. “I canʼt meet that special someone because I’m too busy right now or I don’t’ live in the right part of the country or I’m too old or I’m too this or too that.”. “I canʼt get a new job.” “I canʼt move right now until I have more money.” Anytime you say “I canʼt” youʼre lying to yourself. This is a $15 trillion dollar economy and most of us live in the US. You know what that means? It means “you can”. It might take time to make things happen. It might means you have to adjust your life in various ways. But for anything you’re saying “I can’t” about say, “I can.”

Again, every day, raise your expectations for yourself a tiny bit higher.  As an example, my expectations of myself might be too low right now. Negotiate into this. Doesn’t have to be in one day. Also, use common sense. You can’t be eight feet tall. But you can stand up straighter.

Spiritually:

A)     Everyone has beliefs of some sort. Some people believe if they have more money they will be happier. Some people believe if they go to church every day they will be happier. Maybe either is true or both are true. Every day, ask yourself, are my beliefs really true? Or am I believing them because someone else believes them? Or because I grew up a certain way? It’s hard to know if you’ve been lying to yourself. But it helps to ask.

B)      Hereʼs the simplest spiritual discipline. Every day make a list of new things you are grateful for. And start to only surround yourself with the things you are grateful for. Be grateful only for the things that make you happy. Be honest about what makes you happy and what makes you stressed.  Ultimately that will be your whole life.  Being around the people and things you are grateful for makes you honest, because these people will appreciate and reward your honesty the most. These are your friends. An example for me: I used to read the newspaper every day. But then I realized it was making me tense. The newspapers are the worst liars of all. And I know because I write for them. So I stopped reading them. They can all fire me after reading this. I don’t care. Now I’m happier. I replaced the newspaper with books that make me happy. Another example: I used to watch whatever bullshit TV was on between 8 and 10pm. Now I go to sleep earlier. I love sleep. I’m grateful to sleep eight hours and wake up early before the sun rises. I used to go to more dinners than I wanted to. Now I turn down more invitations.

Fear is the enemy of honesty. Not lack of wealth. Fear of losing clients. Fear of pissing off family. Fear of going to hell. Fear people won’t like you. Fear of being alone. I very much have these fears. But fear never made anyone money or anyone happier or healthier.

List the things you are afraid will happen if you tell the truth, even if you just tell the truth to yourself. Are these worthwhile things to be afraid of? If you are going to lose a job by being more honest, should you stay in that job? My guess is you’ll be a lot happier in another job. Will you lose your girlfriend if you tell her the truth? My guess is you probably would be happier with someone different if she really would leave you upon hearing the truth. Or maybe you honestly don’t know her (or him) as well as you think you do.

I’m afraid all the time. I tell the truth a lot in this blog but of course there’s lots of things I leave out.  Each day I try to be a little bit more honest with myself in the above four areas. If you are honest in these four areas above then you will have fewer things to fear each day. By November 2010, I had reduced my fear enough I started being honest on this blog. And guess what: my traffic went from 100 visits a day to 10,000 visits a day.

One caveat in all this: This is not “radical honesty”. Don’t ever say anything that hurts someone. When you’re honest, people sense it and your words have a lot more power. I even feel it in the body. When I’m saying something honest I feel as if I’m saying it from my stomach. As if the long stale air that was hanging out there finally gets a chance to burst out with full energy. When I’m lying, I feel as if its coming from the top of the throat. The last air I inhaled, going right out to escape my lying body.A wisp of breath to accompany my lying words on their journey.

So you have to be careful with the superpower of honesty. But if you ask the above questions each day, you won’t have the opportunity to hurt others. Just be honest with yourself first.

 

Enjoyed This Post? Get Free Updates

  • https://jarvisapp.com/ Jay Shirley

    Being honest (should, at least) mean the intentions are in the right place. Anybody who gets offended by someone who acts with good intentions should be avoided.

    I think your blog and writing success is not only that you’re honest, but you are humble, entertaining and have had some very wonderful things happen to you in life. Even being broke you transformed into being wonderful, it’s just the journey and not a rest stop of pity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      Yes. Thank you, Jay. I know also the times when I’ve been “down” and was afraid to be myself in order to escape being down was just a useless task. Just being straightforward and honest in every part of my life helped me the most. Whether I was 20 and had nothing and no experience, or when I was 40 and had been through perhaps too much. 

  • Kurt

    It is called F— You money. What is that monetary figure? Depends on where you live and the lifestyle you want.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       I think it should be $0. But that’s the hard part. I know when I’ve had nothing and said whatever I’ve wanted, I’ve advanced the most.

  • http://twitter.com/JustheTip cranky true

    So hard to do, but so true. Keeping up with lies is very draining. When you just lay it all out there, good or bad, it is extremely freeing.

    Thanks again James

  • Anonymous

    Honesty equals credibility. Miles Davis once asked a limo driver: “do you like my music?” The driver said: “no, it’s not my kind of music.” They became the best of friends, because the driver did not suck up to him. Thanks Mr Altucher for very inspiring words.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       That’s a great story. That limo driver had it down.

  • michael

    this blog makes my life better.

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      This blog makes me better. I need ongoing reminders of things I already know. I find that here. 

  • http://twitter.com/TheAcsMan George Acs

    Being wealthy makes it easier to prove your honesty if impugned or challenged in a court of law or public opinion

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Because lawyers or expensive. But in all areas of life I think you can get to that point (wealth) by starting from an honest place.

      • http://twitter.com/TheAcsMan George Acs

        While I do like to think that I’ve lived my life in an honest manner, I may have wished otherwise had I followed a distinct path.

        There are certainly many examples of how illegitimate means ultimately helped to underwrite honest business endeavors and actually bought great benefit to society.

        The Kennedys come quickly to mind, but it is probably not unusual to see those that began their fortunes in disreputable wasy yearn to convert those fortunes into self-sustaining ones on the backs of honest ventures that perhaps never would have been available to them had they not walked on the wrong side of the law.

        Whether its the Mafia Don who escaped poverty and ultimately sends his child to medical school, or the numbers runner who was finally able to move his family out of the squalor of the 1970’s Bronx, sometimes you can see how the ends may justify the means.

        Me? As a direct descendent of the Hapsburg Empire, I’ve always had an Ottoman beneath my feet.

        • Anonymous

          Condolences on Archduke Otto!

        • Anonymous

          Condolences on Archduke Otto!

        • Anonymous

          Condolences on Archduke Otto!

        • Anonymous

          Condolences on Archduke Otto!

  • http://what-are-my-options.blogspot.com/ the99th

    It’s funny I was telling my lady something to this effect just yesterday. 

    Also, I watched Beavis and Butthead on a whim on Friday and discovered that many people are doing the same simultaneously and MTV is bringing it back. What a coincidence.

    Maybe the more honest you are with yourself, the more free processing power you have for intuitive leaps? 

    Even without the super-powers, the saved upkeep is worth it.

    What would your advice be about being honest with a friend who is a C-level officer in a company you used to work in, where you signed a non-compete and non-solicitation clause with a 5-year, worldwide scope, and where you are actually in the process of scalping a bunch of people out of said company?

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Don’t seek them out. But leave the door open. It’s up to them to walk through it but I’d never ever say a bad thing about the prior company to them or any bad things about your friend. If someone walks through that door of their own volition then the first thing they should see is the “no gossip” sign.

      • http://what-are-my-options.blogspot.com/ the99th

        Yes I make it a rule to say nice things about other people/companies even though there are inevitably negative things I could say relating to why I no longer work there. This is the distinction between honesty and “radical honesty”. 

        In this case what I’m saying is, if I go meet my friend for a beer, would it be in keeping with this ideal to mention that I’m not respecting a contract that I signed with the company to which he is an officer?

        The notion of being honest toward people versus artificial people (Corporations) is an interesting one. 

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          If they walk in of their own volition you arent soliciting them. I wouldn’t break your contract. Else one of your employees will leave you and solicit from you. Just let them come of their own choice, and nobody should say bad things about the old company and boss.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          If they walk in of their own volition you arent soliciting them. I wouldn’t break your contract. Else one of your employees will leave you and solicit from you. Just let them come of their own choice, and nobody should say bad things about the old company and boss.

      • http://what-are-my-options.blogspot.com/ the99th

        Yes I make it a rule to say nice things about other people/companies even though there are inevitably negative things I could say relating to why I no longer work there. This is the distinction between honesty and “radical honesty”. 

        In this case what I’m saying is, if I go meet my friend for a beer, would it be in keeping with this ideal to mention that I’m not respecting a contract that I signed with the company to which he is an officer?

        The notion of being honest toward people versus artificial people (Corporations) is an interesting one. 

  • Anonymous

    end usury and obligatory carrot waving and less people will lie and world will be much nicer

  • Midianite Manna

    Yes, being honest is dangerous. My biggest fear is that the person I want to be honest with isn’t strong enough to take it. But living this lie that I’m totally capable and can handle everything is killing me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      Make sure you’re being honest with yourself first. That might be the first hurdle. Really triple-check what you are thinking and if it feels right in your gut. 

  • John Lehmann

    I think it’s the other way around.I have been poor most of my life;I almost never lie.I have literally nothing to lose.I hate secrets and lies so long term friendships are rare as most people are secretive and dishonest.In work situations I got my positions and raises by merit and challenged bosses to fire me if they wanted me to lie for them.”Just be honest with yourself first.”is the key;I know many people who lie so well to themselves they believe their own lie.Watch Lie to Me with Tim Roth it is very good.

  • Penny

    I used to lie a lot when I was younger. I soon learned that it was much harder to lie as one had to make up more lies to cover the first lie. I respect people who are honest. Sometimes I think you have to be economic with the truth but I maintain that honesty is the best policy. No one wants to dig themselves into a big pit created by lies. It can be extremely hard to get out!

  • Penny

    I used to lie a lot when I was younger. I soon learned that it was much harder to lie as one had to make up more lies to cover the first lie. I respect people who are honest. Sometimes I think you have to be economic with the truth but I maintain that honesty is the best policy. No one wants to dig themselves into a big pit created by lies. It can be extremely hard to get out!

  • Penny

    I used to lie a lot when I was younger. I soon learned that it was much harder to lie as one had to make up more lies to cover the first lie. I respect people who are honest. Sometimes I think you have to be economic with the truth but I maintain that honesty is the best policy. No one wants to dig themselves into a big pit created by lies. It can be extremely hard to get out!

  • andrea

    I have been reading your blog for several weeks now and I find your honesty so refreshing and inspiring. Your posts often make me squirm because it is rare to read something that is so raw and sometimes vulgar, other than for pure shock value. While most of us are spending most of our energy trying to hide our desires and fears and cover up our imperfections and failures, even as our deception is preventing us from improving ourselves, you are putting it all out there for everyone to see and learn from. Thanks for pushing us all to be better.

  • andrea

    I have been reading your blog for several weeks now and I find your honesty so refreshing and inspiring. Your posts often make me squirm because it is rare to read something that is so raw and sometimes vulgar, other than for pure shock value. While most of us are spending most of our energy trying to hide our desires and fears and cover up our imperfections and failures, even as our deception is preventing us from improving ourselves, you are putting it all out there for everyone to see and learn from. Thanks for pushing us all to be better.

  • http://twitter.com/CatchDaRayz Eduardo Lopez

    Honesty is a trade-off with Popularity.

    People will pay you to lie to them.  Try running a second hand car yard, a gym, a health food store, a bank, a fashion store, a telco and always tell the total truth.  Watch the truth of your revenue tell you what the market prefers.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I know its hard. I’ve run businesses and felt like lying was a part of it. But, looking back, I now feel that telling the truth would have made me a lot more money

  • http://twitter.com/CatchDaRayz Eduardo Lopez

    Honesty is a trade-off with Popularity.

    People will pay you to lie to them.  Try running a second hand car yard, a gym, a health food store, a bank, a fashion store, a telco and always tell the total truth.  Watch the truth of your revenue tell you what the market prefers.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I don’t think you need money to be honest, but I think that an abundance of money may somehow enable people to justify lying to themselves. idk

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      Yeah, I’ve seen that happen a lot. Its why divorce rates are higher among the incredibly rich and the incredibly poor.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WLMDYQOYXLELO62DYXO6KLDFDE Michael

    Man, I would love to be more honest. It is hard, though. I am a teacher and I feel like honesty is punished. Parents, administrators, department heads. They all hate honesty. It is a big scam, everyone lying to each other, so no one has to do any work. Kids are given grades, passed along. Teachers are given tenure. Administrators punish teachers for innovation and having standards. One. Big. Scam.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Try it though. List all of the things you are afraid could happen. Then just try being a little more honest. If its hard, start with being honest with yourself by answering each day the questions I mention in this article. It really works.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WLMDYQOYXLELO62DYXO6KLDFDE Michael

        Thanks man, I will try that. I have already tried a few things you suggest, it is definitely a work in progress.

  • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

    People sometimes laugh when you are honest.  They are so surprised.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Yeah, true.

  • http://www.andrewriley.net Andrew

    Good God.  If you have to lie to people to make money, you’re in the wrong line of work.

    But then again, as Michael says a couple of comments down, a lot of people get really upset when you’re honest.  That’s probably why we keep electing such shitty politicians to run things for us.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       I went with a friend once to visit her financial advisor at a major bank (starts with “W”). She asked me to just sit there while he went over her financial options (she had just made about $150k selling a house). I counted six lies (and wrote a column about it in the FT). I’m sure he was just doing his job. But that was business as usual and its a shame.

  • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

    I need help with coming up with a good business name.  Is there anyone here who is good with name generation?

  • BattleHawk

    so can you be honest and tell me that your book it just a collection of your blog posts lol, I did by it though

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      I was always honest about that (which is why I give it away for free also). But not everyone has read or seen my earlier posts (i have over 100 posts here) and my curating posts by subject and compiling them into a book added value.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/tarhini_smb Tarhini_smb

    im sure you have plenty of stories about being “radically honest” 

    would love a post about the subject. I dont think its as clear as you mention it here. the line is very thin b/w being honesty and radically honest, especially when the intention is good 

    • http://twitter.com/#!/tarhini_smb Tarhini_smb

      woohoo my comments work again! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       I think i have more stories about radically lying than being radically honest, unfortunately. But the best times I’ve been radically honest is when i’ve had nothing to lose (the lowest employee on the totem pole. for instance, or talking to a client I figured I had no chance of getting, and then really being honest about what I felt they needed). In those situations I ended up making more money than I thought possible, just by being straightforward and direct rather than cowering in fear.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/tarhini_smb Tarhini_smb

        what I meant was that there is a thin line between being radical and just
        being honest. you mentioned not to say it if it is going to hurt someone.
        this is much more difficult than it sounds in practice. also there is an
        opportunity cost to holding back from saying something bc you think it might
        hurt the person.

  • http://danreich.com danreich

    This is officially now my favorite blog on the internet – honestly. Great stuff James!

    • Anonymous

      ditto!

    • http://essaywriter.org/ essay writer

       the same about me!! )))))))))))

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=535000182 Michelle Kusal

      me too!!!!

  • No Right Answers

    It is interesting how we, as adults, feel we are being dishonest (lying) if we build boundaries.  Of course we can have a personality that makes it more obvious that we are constructing boundaries and it can definitely feel personal  (it IS personal! :))  But in general we all construct boundaries, and it is not being dishonest.  It is a decision and if we live by it, it is just easier.  I am not going to pick up calls before 7 a.m.  That’s a boundary.  Take it personally or don’t.  I am not going to tell people how much money I lost on such and such.  That’s not a lie.  That’s a boundary.  Now if you were to say “I lost $1,000,000” when you lost tons more, then it’s a lie.  But if you’re just going to say I lost money and when asked how much say I’m not going to discuss it – where is the lie?   A life of lies is painful.  But so is a life without any boundaries.  At different times in life, different things are right for each of us.
    I love your blog :)

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      I like this comment. There is a quote from a favorite short story of mine, “I leave a lot out when I tell the truth.” The character in the story does not really “leave things out,” she lies. But I like the line and I think it captures the same thing you are saying here. 

  • Sigi

    This was an awesome post like many others, but I have to make a small correction:This is a $15 trillion dollar economy about to collapse and most of us live in the US. You know what that means? It means “shit is going to get rought”. It might take time to make things happen.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Well, this is an argument people are having for years. But its not about to collapse. The technology boom is just beginning.

  • Muralimys

    JA,

    Thank you.  

  • Frater Taciturnus

    A frighteningly honest reflection. You see, I am a fucking liar. I will tell the truth, often for years at a time because the lie, when it comes, will be almost undetectable. It’s not that I aim to hurt or materially deprive others. It is simply that by fostering their illusions people become more predictable, easier to manage. The lies I tell myself are  complicite with the truth, indistinguishable in my own mind. And yes, they are literally killing me.

  • Frater Taciturnus

    A frighteningly honest reflection. You see, I am a fucking liar. I will tell the truth, often for years at a time because the lie, when it comes, will be almost undetectable. It’s not that I aim to hurt or materially deprive others. It is simply that by fostering their illusions people become more predictable, easier to manage. The lies I tell myself are  complicite with the truth, indistinguishable in my own mind. And yes, they are literally killing me.

  • Frater Taciturnus

    A frighteningly honest reflection. You see, I am a fucking liar. I will tell the truth, often for years at a time because the lie, when it comes, will be almost undetectable. It’s not that I aim to hurt or materially deprive others. It is simply that by fostering their illusions people become more predictable, easier to manage. The lies I tell myself are  complicite with the truth, indistinguishable in my own mind. And yes, they are literally killing me.

  • Frater Taciturnus

    A frighteningly honest reflection. You see, I am a fucking liar. I will tell the truth, often for years at a time because the lie, when it comes, will be almost undetectable. It’s not that I aim to hurt or materially deprive others. It is simply that by fostering their illusions people become more predictable, easier to manage. The lies I tell myself are  complicite with the truth, indistinguishable in my own mind. And yes, they are literally killing me.

  • Frater Taciturnus

    A frighteningly honest reflection. You see, I am a fucking liar. I will tell the truth, often for years at a time because the lie, when it comes, will be almost undetectable. It’s not that I aim to hurt or materially deprive others. It is simply that by fostering their illusions people become more predictable, easier to manage. The lies I tell myself are  complicite with the truth, indistinguishable in my own mind. And yes, they are literally killing me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Those are the hard ones. I was like that also when in business for years. You become so wrapped up in the superficial that you confuse it for the real. Just like it takes years to get there, it takes a while to get out. But its a process. Ask the questions above every day and you’ll start negotiating your way out of that situation. 

  • James E. Miller

    So if you have feelings for someone and are scared to tell them because you don’t want to take that step yet, are you lying? ( Yeah I know it’s kind of a of a childish question, but I like getting different people’s opinions on things)

  • James E. Miller

    So if you have feelings for someone and are scared to tell them because you don’t want to take that step yet, are you lying? ( Yeah I know it’s kind of a of a childish question, but I like getting different people’s opinions on things)

  • James E. Miller

    So if you have feelings for someone and are scared to tell them because you don’t want to take that step yet, are you lying? ( Yeah I know it’s kind of a of a childish question, but I like getting different people’s opinions on things)

  • James E. Miller

    So if you have feelings for someone and are scared to tell them because you don’t want to take that step yet, are you lying? ( Yeah I know it’s kind of a of a childish question, but I like getting different people’s opinions on things)

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       Well, its not a childish question at all. It happens to everybody all the time. We want to fight the loneliness and sometimes fear is more deadly than the honesty. So without knowing the situation at all:
      A) figure out what it is you are really afraid of if she says “no”. There are a lot of people in the world and worst case, you just work on ways to meet more of them. Lots of people are good people.
      B) If you are honest with her, does it hurt anyone: is she an employee, for instance, or the wife of someone else? Even if she is unhappy in a current marriage she still has to deal with that before anything else.

      Think about those two things for a day or so. Then, again without knowing the situation, why not go for it? As long as you can handle your fear and you aren’t hurting anyone.

  • http://twitter.com/purvirajani Purvi Rajani

    There’s a point every day when I remember to check if you have a new blog post up. It brings a smile to my face to see a new headline. For the last few weeks, your always excellent blog has been just superb. It’s the honesty that does it. 

    I remember one article you wrote about blogging where you said you had to bleed in your writing.  That comes to mind every time I read a posting. This article was terrific. I’m just back from a great trip sailing around the Gulf Islands of BC. My daily practice didn’t happen and it’s been a struggle to get back to it. This post was a great reminder of why it matters. Thank you again for sharing your unique POV.

  • http://twitter.com/purvirajani Purvi Rajani

    There’s a point every day when I remember to check if you have a new blog post up. It brings a smile to my face to see a new headline. For the last few weeks, your always excellent blog has been just superb. It’s the honesty that does it. 

    I remember one article you wrote about blogging where you said you had to bleed in your writing.  That comes to mind every time I read a posting. This article was terrific. I’m just back from a great trip sailing around the Gulf Islands of BC. My daily practice didn’t happen and it’s been a struggle to get back to it. This post was a great reminder of why it matters. Thank you again for sharing your unique POV.

  • http://twitter.com/purvirajani Purvi Rajani

    There’s a point every day when I remember to check if you have a new blog post up. It brings a smile to my face to see a new headline. For the last few weeks, your always excellent blog has been just superb. It’s the honesty that does it. 

    I remember one article you wrote about blogging where you said you had to bleed in your writing.  That comes to mind every time I read a posting. This article was terrific. I’m just back from a great trip sailing around the Gulf Islands of BC. My daily practice didn’t happen and it’s been a struggle to get back to it. This post was a great reminder of why it matters. Thank you again for sharing your unique POV.

  • Anonymous

    Now this, James, is why I keep coming back!

    To thine own self be true!

    I am only middlin’ honest, myself, but it is something I am working very hard to improve upon. Self honesty is the root of a fulfilled life and one filled with laughter. Self deception leads to self destruction. If we are liars, how can we trust others? -How can we trust ourselves?

    It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. I rather think that it is paved with lies. Most of the wrongs that have occurred in my life began and often ended with deception of one sort or another. This post is the twin to your earlier mea culpa piece. When you are honest with yourself, you first have to admit that most of the crud in your life is your own fault.

    I disagree with you from time to time, but I respect your good heart and your candor.

    Well done!

  • Jeffrey

    I agree with danreich, best blog on the internet.  I’m new to it today, but I’ve recently discovered you on CNBC.  I like what you’ve been saying so I decided to dig a little deeper into who you are and by doing so, discovered this blog.  I love you on TV, by the way.  Your honesty definitely comes through and it makes you very attractive.  I watch CNBC because I like to hear the noise that my clients are hearing; by doing so, I can help steer them in a more honest direction.  Every once in a while, though, I’ll hear a nugget of truth; and lately it’s been you.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U5G3EQIX6VVJJPUC22TJJFQCTE VWVagabonds

    There is that wonderful scene in the movie Thank You For Smoking where cigarette company executive Nick Naylor justifies what he does for a living by saying, “I just need to pay the mortgage,” then shrugs and says, “The Yuppie Nuremberg defense.”

    Everyone does it so I have to do it too or I will be replaced by someone willing to do it and I will lose my home and my family and…. 

    That is the thinking that has gotten us into the economic swamp we are now mucking around in.

    Perhaps your rational honesty approach will move things in the right direction.  And perhaps we might learn a lesson from Nuremberg and refuse to accept the, “everyone is doing it,” defense. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       I like that phrase “rational honesty” as opposed to “radical honesty”.

      • http://manonthestreet.com manonthestreet

        The Grateful dead has a song titled Althea where the songwriter describes Althea as being “Honest to the point of recklessness, self centered to the extreme” I will include a link to a youtube video of a live performance…perhaps you do not allow links…but here goes:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQFeuAbLHroI can’t help but start humming this song to myself every time I start reading a new post to the Altucher Confidential. Certainly honest to a point of recklessness, but don’t take the ‘self centered’ comment as a jab. Who among us cannot be considered ‘self centered’.

        Thanks for the read today James.

        • http://manonthestreet.com manonthestreet

          James I also can’t help but think that you would make one hell of an internet troll, posting comments around the web designed to incite folks a bit less intelligent than you.

  • AFan

    Very interesting that many here say that money encourages honesty.  In an earlier post, you recommend that people start lying AFTER they get money.

    Here’s the entry (specifically, point #2) : “What Do You Do After You Make a Zillion Dollars” http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2010/11/what-do-you-do-after-you-make-a-zillion-dollars/

    According to the “No Friends Rule”, after getting a lot of money, you advise lying to friends about loaning them money, even if you can technically afford.   At the time, I actually thought this was good advice.  In light of the current post about honesty, do you still hold the opinion you held in that previous post?

    Doing the “right thing” can be tough! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

       You make a great point. However, i always tell people who make a lot of money that rule I mention in the earlier post. I tell them to say, “you have to ask James first.” And James [me] is always going to say “no”. so find someone who can be your “support group” when people ask you for money. Then you don’t need to lie.

      • AFan

        Seems a little bit like a lying shell game, right?  Find someone to lie for you (or you for them) and that makes it not lying?  Hmm. 

        I think *sometimes* (small) lies can be a good thing.  In this particular case, while you *could* loan the money in many cases, the fact is that it’s not a good idea to make a habit of this financially.  You’re not being a “rich” miser.

        Unfortunately the people doing the asking don’t understand this. They’re not of the “crappy people” variety you posted about.  They’re good people who need/want money.  But many of them can turn into crappy people if you tell them “no” in this regards.  They turn your smart financial decision into a betrayal of friendship.

        I think sometimes lying can help keep good people from turning into crappy people.  Seems you agree too (though we may disagree on semantics).

  • John

    About the honesty issue, I think
    you have a point. One will feel liberated, sure, ground footed, if one is honest.

     

    However, living honestly entails
    big sacrifice. It’s like showing your cards in poker. You’re sure lose, unless
    the other person don’t want to win. You can’t get anything in life, that is
    also of value to other people.

     

    The assumption here is that
    humans are innately selfish. This is true. If humans are not selfish, there
    will be no economy. What is yours is also mine. No exchange needed.

     

    Only monks and
    equivalents can follow his advice on honesty. It would be fatal for anyone else
    to do so.

    • John

      sorry for the blanks. i typed and copied from a word processor.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      Poker is a zero-sum game. Honesty is win-win. I don’t think that analogy holds. Monks have it easy. They are in a monastery with perhaps less reason to lie (no bosses, employees, spouses, etc). But simply asking the questions I mention in the article, whether you say “yes” or “no” builds awareness. Awareness builds honesty. Its process like any negotiation.

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        I was going to make the same statement about poker being a zero sum game. You beat me to it. 

  • JWDeming

    James, been reading your stuff for several years. You keep getting better. Older i get the less I lie. I hated myself when I lied. Don’t like hating myself. So I opted for honesty. Lost a lot of people close to me, including some family members I still love. Not because I hurt them. Because I made them uncomfortable. But more honest I was especially with myself, the more money I made. The more successful I became in every area of my life. Found some great new friends. Just a few. But one great friend is worth more than a million pseudo friends. Also, like you, I failed a lot in the first half of my life. A lot. Over and over. When I got honest about my failures, I stopped failing. For the most part. It’s kinda nice.

    I read your post on not sending your kids to college. I told my two most recent kids when they were each about 5 that I would keep them out of school if they did not want to go to school. I said they could go if they wanted to. My daughter never went to school. She went to a graduate lab in molecular bio at UCSF at age 12. Was accepted at MIT at age 14. Just left MIT because she got a Thiel Fellowship. I always urged her to go for it, whatever “it” was. She always did. My son finally wanted to hang with peers so started school in 6th grade. Loved it. Just goes to show. Still loves it here in Boston. Both kids grew up in New Zealand but we moved back to the States when daughter talked her way into the UCSF bio lab.

    People ask if I homeschooled them. Nope. Just told them to enjoy their childhood. Oh and that they’d probably be more successful at whatever they did if they studied math and science but more importantly found a passion and pursued it with everything they had. Guess they listened. Miss my daughter though, now that she’s gone back to SF.

    You inspire me. I’ve learned a lot from you even though I’m a tad older. But, then, I learn a lot from both kids. They’re brilliant. They think I’m wise. I tell them they think that because I’ve always been open about my failures but not in a negative way. Always in a ‘I’m telling you this so you don’t have to go through it” or “Things I wish I had known when I was your age” kinda way.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there. Your rules for living that I’ve picked up from various posts are mostly very helpful. Glad you’re around at the same time I am. Wouldn’t mind meeting you one day.

  • Anonymous

    James, today you killed it!!! Awesome post. 
    You gave me some advice via email about 2 months ago about new business opportunities for my company and when the new company I am launching opens in Sept you will know I took your advice and added some of our own initiatives to it and started building technology! It was great advice…I hope. jkThanks for posting and working you are doing a great job.

  • CMS

    If I am honest to the point that I really piss someone off, someone who would want want to cause me some grief, I’m not sure my budding business could survive an anonymous yelp attack. I’m not a wimp, I just stay away from posting ‘questionable things’ while using my real name, for the time being. Before the biz has an established name, I’m in a precarious situation. I’ll wait to blog what is on my mind until my business presence is a bit more formidable.

    But I do see your point, if I say/blog my thoughts (controversial or not) it could help people understand that those who criticize me may be acting out of malice and as a platform for me to counterpoint, and to understand me though my words than hostile words of someone else. Also, to give me a chance to air my dirty laundry before someone else does.

    Sounds good, but I still cannot afford to get shanked, right now.

    I probably should of quoted Depeche Mode’s ‘Policy of Truth’ in there somewhere.

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I lost the most important relationship in my life because I was lying. Most of my lies were about things I saw as small and insignificant. But the lies started growing and became less insignificant and I lost a man that I loved deeply and who loved (and still loves) my son.

    He had told me before we started dating that lying was the only thing in a relationship he could not get past. I didn’t think it was an issue for me. I thought I was a pretty honest person. He said he could forgive infidelity, but not dishonesty. 

    This was three and a half years ago and I have spent that time trying to be as honest with everyone as I can. Being honest with myself is the hardest part. 

  • http://twitter.com/JFinDallas JFinDallas

    Thanks for reminding us of the essential again, one of your best post.

  • http://twitter.com/JFinDallas JFinDallas

    Thanks for reminding us of the essential again, one of your best post.

  • Rskelly101

    “As a small business person,
    you have no greater leverage than the truth.” – Paul Keating

  • Marc Hansen

    My clients, at least, appreciate my honesty, although I could probably be a  little bit nicer about it. Oh, and while we’re being so honest, hey, James, you tweet too much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/badri.radhakrishnan Badri Radhakrishnan

    Have added this to my RSS feed.  Interesting topics covered.  On a slightly tangential note, I have been discovering (anecdotally) that in Amercia, you do have to be rich (er) to eat healthy. 

  • Dspidero

    Why do you say “[b]y implication it must mean that everyone who thinks they are “poor” is lying to his friends, customers, bosses, etc”  Does an honest awareness of one’s own anxiety about others’ reaction to truth really imply a habit of lying? ( am not saying we don’t all lie all the time BTW) You know this logic…  “If A then B” does not imply “If not A then not B”….  You suggest to never say anything that hurts someone.

    Also on a different note, do you type or dictate?  I’m just trying to get a feeling for you writing process…

    • http://twitter.com/HaroldVerh Harold Verhagen

      I had the same assumption about the logical fallacy.Bearing in mind i really loved the article. The point and message is really nice… Fear is powerful – It’s hard to imagine that if i lose every thing i have i’ll be able to survive it (although i think i will since i always think that every thing is an experience building up towards the future!

      I think what the problem for me was is that i never thought of it this way. James must be rich if he can write so openly. 

      • http://twitter.com/HaroldVerh Harold Verhagen

        Oh yeah… And saying the truth has always proved to be the best thing i ever did… Although some lies i keep out there

  • Tim Leon

    Another gem James. Thanks.

  • Mike Morin

    Don’t you think that being honest simply gives fuel to a liar to hurt you?  It’s like giving them a roadmap of how to beat you?  I’ve had this happen more times that I care to recall, which pushes me into a position of fear so that I feel I must present an impenetrable front a liar will not even attempt to mess around.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Absolutely not. Not if you do it as prescribed above. The key is being honest with yourself. Starting from the inside helps you to have the true power to be honest on the outside. Then the liar can’t beat you. He beats himself (err, so to speak). 

  • Annie

    James, I came across your blog about a week ago (Penelope Trunk) and have been amazed.  I’m sitting at my desk at work sifting through archives.  You are such a clear, brave writer.  Today’s post is the best I’ve read yet.

    I’m 30 and can only start to see that my 20s were a total hoax.  Lies and lies and lies.  And fortunate/unfortunately they weren’t the kinds of lies that are “crazy,” like the kinds you see in movies (pretending to be a doctor, having a wild affair).  Instead, I’ve been lying to myself over and over again to the point where it’s hard to detect.  I dated a guy for 2 years knowing from day 1 it was a massive mistake.  I pretend to be an extrovert when I am 100% an introvert.  Need a new job, need to get honest about some really ridiculous eating patterns.  It’s so pervasive.

    A therapist has helped me to understand that the double bookkeeping of private versus public self wreaks havoc on self-worth.  And that the best thing to overcome self-loathing is to begin to bridge that divide. 

    This post helped me with this idea.  It helped me to see that consistent honesty isn’t synonymous with being rude or selfish.  Much of the time, it’s just considerate.  

    Keep up the great writing, I’m reading along,
    Annie

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks Annie. I agree keeping the “two books” is devastating. I’m going to write about this topic, on how to reconcile those books once you have them. 

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    For me, the most important line in this post is the very last one.

    I am going to consciously attempt this everyday.   :)

  • ZenPen

    “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
                                                                                                      – George Orwell

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great quote. And Zen, thanks for all the quotes you put in this blog. Each one is inspirational. I’m always afraid you’ll go off and start your own blog and leave us behind. 

  • craig ross

    Hi James,
    Thanks for yet another great article. I will have to go back through some of your posts to catch up on the back story. 
    In the mean time though I wanted to share something I wrote last year that you may find useful. It is an approach to getting perspective. http://thinkylink.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/putting-your-stuff-into-perspective-intro/

    Have at it, if you like. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks Craig, I will check this out. 

  • Andrew W

    You still seem to have side stepped the question that started the post.  The question still is if you weren’t loaded, would you still have made the decision in November to embrace this kind of honesty, or do you think it would altered the outcome of that decision?  You’ve been-and I’m a big fan-elusive about how much dough you’ve got currently.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Well, who says I’m loaded?

  • Joeb

    When people say they want to be “brutally honest”, I ask them “Can we leave off the brutal part? Just be HONEST.”

    Honesty can be the kindest thing you can do for someone. There’s a great scene in the movie “The Motorcycle Diaries” where a doctor- who has been writing a novel for years on the side- asks Che and his friend for their opinion. The friend lies a bit and says it’s good (after all, the doctor has been very kind to the two young men). Che is honest. It’s bad. The man should stick to medicine.

    For a moment, the man is hurt. The wind has been knocked out of him. But then… he understands how valuable that truth is to him. It will make him a better man, a better doctor, and who knows what else.

    If you can’t speak the truth, don’t speak.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree with this. I dont think I said “brutal” in the post. I think its a tricky balance when to be honest and when you know you will hurt someone. Not everyone is a book critic or a fashion critic. Che might’ve been wrong. Like you say, if you can’t speak the truth, don’t speak. I prefer the days when i don’t talk at all. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=535000182 Michelle Kusal

    Once again, you are so good at stating the things that roll around my mind, but I cannot say.  Thank you.  Your claim “fear is the enemy of honesty” could not be more true.  Fear has many enemies.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      So many. And its ok to have that fear. Thats why we are biological humans instead of robots. But being aware of that fear and are ways of dealing with it is the challenge. 

  • Cjmcclea

    Be honest, how much you you make a year from this blog!?

  • Anonymous

    One of your greatest posts ever!

    I think of myself as a very honest person; however, I’m an appeaser even when I don’t want to be.  Some very eye opening inspirations . . .  Thanks!

  • CommishTheVictor

    James, did you know you had a great blog before you hit upload? I mean, you knew it as you were writing it? I suspect you did. Very good post. Keep em coming. 

  • Waltsantwer

    James:
         I have read and agreed with a lot of your writings.  I have looked at some of the comments below.  Much good stuff contained therein.  
         Today I had 2 different automobile problems to confront; minor body shop work and minor mechanical.  I am totally convinced that America could not function without BULLSHIT and BAIT & SWITCH!  
        We have a Country where truth and honesty has become an abstract concept.  That funny feeling we get almost daily is US circling the drain.  I am retired, I don’t vote, I am a combat veteran (that’s where people kill each other for large companies or misguided political whores). 
    I hope more people see what you are trying to say and change (ANYTHING) something for the better.

  • David

    I started being honest with God when I was 27.  That was a lot of years ago.  But it was the start of my voyage to honesty.  You can’t BS God.  If you think you can, you really don’t know Him.  He listens patiently.  But He’ll punch holes in all your phoney arguments.  You know when you’re trying to BS Him, He’ll let you know everytime.  It’s good practice in honesty, talking to God.  Another thing I’ve found, is that with honesty comes the first glimmerings of humility.  Humility is not low self-esteem.  Most people think that.  Humility is actually the most wonderful quality it’s possible to have.  Almost all of the incredibly likeable people you might know (if you’re privileged to know any) are humble people.  For me, if it’s been a long, long road to honesty, it’s been an even longer road to humility.  I’m not there yet.

    • mom

      “But it was the start of my voyage to honesty.  You can’t BS God.”

      God is a lie man made up to enslave.  When someone dies you lie to yourself asserting they are in a better place.  Fact is you know exactly where they are…the ground as worm compost.  See how the god lie keeps you from the truth?

  • http://rodolfogrimaldi.com Daniel Mihai Popescu

    Everyone has to take the decision to be honest at a moment, in his life. It is much better and you have nothing to loose. Start with yourself, and after that, “brutally honest” is OK. It is rare when you’re not believed, :)

  • Chandan

    James I’d like to twist this question of yours a little so as to cover another part of this rich-honesty connection: does it help to be honest or to get honest if you are rich..?..As you have already mentioned it is about getting rid of your fears and to feel liberated. In our world, a very good way of feeling liberated is by getting rich, which is also a theme which comes out from one of your other blogs(http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/01/what-it-feels-like-to-be-rich/). You rid yourself from fretting about so many things you are supposed to think when you get rich. Most of the world famous philosophers were prosperous, Socrates being the only exception i can think of.

  • Fred

    In all honesty, your article sucks. Poorly written, off the cuff ramblings unsuccessfully trying to tell the reader something that is just common sense.

    • scott hutchinson

      Sounds like it really struck a nerve with Fred and he’s “doubling down” on his lie.

  • C5562

    (to be honest with you ),does this mean everything up to this point  was bullshit but now your going to come clean . i’ve always found this type of language very mindless/disturbing.

  • Rabelias

    This blog is incredible. I wait for it to hit my inbox everyday like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Just when I think it can’t get any better…

  • dub

    I have long realized that, in business, honesty is always the best policy even if it hurts or is uncomfortable.  It solves problems faster and prevents newer problems from popping up.  It creates trust and you develop a reputation for integrity and that helps business grow.

    I haven’t been able to transcribe the honesty principles I try to follow in business into my personal life with my one and only best friend and true lover: my wife.  Fear, like you said, is probably the greatest hindrance.  I fear wrath and anger, I fear hurting her, I fear shame and humiliation, I fear her leaving me.  But I can’t live with lies between us and eventually admit to the initial transgressions and subsequent deceptions.  This always makes things much more difficult and painful than if I had been honest with her in the first place because now the offense is compounded exponentially.  Or even better, If I had been honest with myself when making the choices to act in a way that would cause me to lie about in the first place, I would have made better choices.  I think I need to stop lying to myself so I can correct my lying patterns with my loved ones.

  • Mahesh

    James,
    This is one of your best blogs. Thank you.
    “Don’t ever say anything that hurts someone.”  – I try to follow this

  • Mahesh

    James,
    This is one of your best blogs. Thank you.
    “Don’t ever say anything that hurts someone.”  – I try to follow this

  • http://twitter.com/OgFOMK Alexander B. Nuttall

    Thank you Dharma very much!

  • http://twitter.com/OgFOMK Alexander B. Nuttall

    Thank you Dharma very much!

  • CAOIMHGHIN ANSGAR

    James, I ready you because of the honesty.  I tell others about your honesty and they end up reading you too.  So keep up the honesty man…it moves me and seems to be working just fine for you too.

  • Kevin M

    Hitting bottom is somewhat freeing. One summer I lost my job and wife (divorce) and we sold our house. I look back with fondness that I had a chance to “reboot”.

    I’m surprised that many people wrote to you about being honest. Maybe I’ve missed some stuff here, but I don’t think you’ve written anything that out there (about other people anyway).

  • Bruce Sutherland

    Jesus I love this blog! Go James!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/derekdodds Derek Dodds

    i met this guy in Mexico a few years back
    and he had this huge tattoo on his arm
    it said veritas
    he was powerful
    insightful
    like a shaman
    i instantly felt he was my brother
    soul-type-brother

    and i asked him what veritas meant
    and he said truth
    and it hit me hard
    it struck me like a bolt
    right in the center of my being
    because I knew that what he had on his arm
    was the meaning of life
    was the meaning of my life
    even though most of my life was a lie
    swallowing what had been passed down to me from my family
    assimilating what ‘they’ taught me in all those hours of ‘education’
    how to be a ‘good’ human
    a good ‘citizen’
    a good ’employee’
    “I pledge allegiance to the flag”

    but at some point I started questioning
    looking
    observing
    wondering
    examining
    people say bla bla and
    have lied so much to themselves
    i lied to myself
    a lot
    that the self-illusion has tied the tether of truth
    into a noose
    and the victim is life itself
    and the patient and doctor have both signed the same contract
    and judgment day never comes
    until truth is set free

    truth shows up (or doesn’t) in words and action, but it is rooted in the heart
    it is the heart’s council
    in fact the two are inseparable
    when you talk of love
    you might as well talk of truth
    because they are so closely connected
    they are more than intimate

    but actually everything emanates from that fire
    the truth-fire of life
    and it either burns clearly
    or gets distorted by our own fears
    by our own need for security
    by our own need to be somebody
    by our need to show others how ‘good’ we are

    but the heart does not care about any of those needs
    it only dances in the embers of truth’s radiance
    it is in itself ‘alive’ with the potentiality of existence
    it knows nothing else
    in fact, no-thing-else is even possible
    it has no other path
    it is unidirectional
    because of truth’s purity
    the heart, thus, has only one destiny

    so life’s journey is
    a challenge
    to
    follow the heart
    or truth
    or a combined dance of the two
    allowing for truth to birth itself
    in our lives
    and uncovering
    or recognizing
    the heart’s song
    is what is worth living for

    truth’s dance
    reveals
    all of the blind spots
    it doesn’t care if we look at those blind spots
    it just keeps revealing
    and the egos trips
    and tricks ‘itself’
    and ourselves
    into
    protecting itself
    into
    fortifying the illusion
    the game
    the shadowed existence

    i keep watching
    listening
    observing
    and the sensitivity grows
    and the ego stops protecting itself
    and it shows itself
    in its shadows
    and its light grows
    and such is the movement of life
    and the movement of death

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3H2ZET2CSBV32JA2PMAN7SFM5U B

    American society is based on lies and illusions. Americans really like their illusions and dislike people that shatter them. Truth does that to illusions. When an illusion is busted with truth people react poorly. They can’t admit they believed in a lie so they attack the truth teller. They will even double down on the lie. The liars know this. The liars rule corporations and government because of all the people that will go along with their lies. The truth tellers are outcasts. It ends poorly every time.

    Turning this around is difficult. People need to rearrange their values putting their self respect first and have the confidence to change their views in the light of new data. I have my doubts this will happen before a horrible collapse.

    So long as society is this way truth will come with penalties. The fears are not entirely unfounded. But lying creates far more horrible conditions.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m not sure its just America. 

  • Lmoen

    James,
       Timely topic. The other day I told my banker he was lying when he said the “reason the bank does this…is for the client’s protection”.
        I wonder why I have to change banks every 5 yrs or so? laugh…

  • http://shakeyourfoundation.com Craig Playstead

    Great post and so true. This dawned on me just a short time ago. Still waiting for the uptick …

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Stick to what you’re doing. It will come. 

  • Ron

    James and all – check this out for success with honesty.  

    I think the Quakers of the 1700’s and 1800’s in England were generally honest and were probably the most outsized success story of any minority group.
     
    The first 30 minutes is really
    the key to the lecture. Cadbury, Lloyds, Barclays all have Quaker roots. 

     

    http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/quakers-business-and-morality

  • nysepete

    I kinda agree with Andrew W below.

    But to the point of this post – I completely agree.
    The truth shall set you free is a fact – and like you allude to with the girlfriend example – sometimes it hurts.  At first.  But inevitably – most of us will benefit long term. [not all]

    I have become incredibly honest based on some counseling I once received that I totally believed.  However – many of my friends cannot accept the honesty and get pissed because I am too blunt.  Maybe it’s just the delivery – but maybe not.  I have absolutely cost myself friendships from Honesty – friendships I am better off without for sure.  But I have a lot less friends.  And my long-term friends are mostly all gone. [maybe there were other reasons as well]

    But as to the point of the Title of this entry – I totally agree that money buys honesty.  At least a certain level of comfort.  When I was killing in on Wall Street a few years back – I was overly-honest and didn’t much care – because my customers loved me for it and it became something of a red badge of courage.  But many coworkers hated me for it.  In the end – I didn’t care – new friends came and went.  I was always able to pick up the tab or treat to the rental car or beach cabana or whatever – and thus a new batch of friends — who I could lose again by being truthful and frank.  I could sit down at any bar – buy some drinks for those around me – and be swapping phone numbers and party plans within 15 minutes.  And some of these people turned out to be pretty cool.

    I just didn’t care if my old ones stuck around as a new crop sprouted weekly.

    Nowadays – with paychecks meager at best – I fear telling others the truth because if they leave me now – it might be hard to come by some new ones.  Maybe I don;t need friends like THIS – but everybody needs friends.
    And if I risk hurting their feelings now – well, that would suck.  Perhaps better to white lie a bit and have friends – then have none at all.

    Just being honest : )

    • guest

      You determine what type of friends you want to have in your life, no one else.  If your current friends except you as a liar and you are good with that so what any one else has to say.

    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      Also…..I don’t think money has anything to do with being honest or not being honest.  Think back to when we were in school , we all knew who was a liar and who wasn’t…..way before any accumulation of wealth.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XWHZSW4DCMEJNM6ZY5WFNJL3AY Green

    Here’s my motto, feel free to steal it, then lie that it’s yours

    “The truth is free. Lies cost money.” 

    I came up with it when, after giving up my banking career and moving to Costa Rica to start a hotel, American guests would constantly ask me where they could get a good real estate deal.  I would tell them all “forget Costa Rica real estate, sell your house in the U.S., housing is a bubble about to collapse.  They all looked at me like I was crazy, most of them laughed, and walked away.

    My wife thought I was crazy.  “Why don’t you sell them real estate, like another hotel owner was doing, and make some money?” 

    You want the truth? I’ll give it to you for free.  You want me to lie? It will cost you money.

  • Anonymous

    ” Don’t ever say anything that hurts someone. ”

    I have been conscious of my lying (and the ridiculous amount of it I have done) for the last year or so. It is really hard to break the habit, but it has been rewarding the more honest I’ve become.

    My question is, how can you know if your honesty will hurt someone? I mean, outside of the obvious. Sometimes in being honest, others will be hurt. Do you mean more in the intent? IOW, do not intend to hurt with honesty?

  • Songlift1

    Priorities are the key.  Anyone who puts money ahead of health is a fool.  I’ve known too many multimillionaires that have bought it because they did not take care of themselves.  One guy bought it on the back of a motorcycle!

    Balanced life.  Talked aobut for 5,000 years.  Maybe someday we’ll get it.
    Be grateful for what you have, not have anyone after you, and have good, solid friends.
    Have a multimillionaire internal state.  Then you are wealthy.

  • Pragman

    My father never lied to us, his kids.  He was a physician.  He’d tell me “lose weight” you’re getting too big.  The only honest person I’ve ever met. 

  • Mark

    You should, definitely, never, ever read this book – The Urantia Book.  It’s much to thick – about 2 inches, hard to hold on your lap while watching TV, and has so many big words it’ll send your mind a spinin’.  Make sure ya’ skip the introduction too, way too complicated for mere mortals.  So in the unlikely event you ever come across it, just pass it by, nothin to see here.

    Unless, of course, your really serious about truth.

  • mrslippy

    I understand that as a journalist, you should always tell the truth.

    But whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all”?

    Ask Mel Gibson how he feels about honesty. It’s gotten him in trouble more than once.

    Also, dealing in such definites like “Are you doing everything you can do so you don’t die an early death from liver or kidney or lung cancer? If you aren’t, then you are lying to yourself.” or “Are your ideas good or are you delusional and lying to yourself” are some of the most ridiculous thing i have ever seen, heard or read. I smoke and drink, but I am not kidding myself that these things won’t kill me. That is the third of an infinite amount of possible options that you fail to mention. Are my ideas good or am i delusional? That is a little extreme don’t you think.

    I know I have the right to not read on, but I also have the right to throw in my 2cents