I Woke Up Scared and Angry Today

coffee2

5am. I haven’t opened my eyes yet. Please God, if you are a good and decent god, make sure that when I open my eyes that Claudia is not in the bed next to me. I want her DOWNSTAIRS and making my coffee. This second. I don’t care that she has Lyme Disease. Thank you God. In exchange, I will…I don’t know. We’ll work it out after my coffee. I’ll make it good for you.

But…aside from that.

When I wake up I’m usually either in one of two states: scared or angry. Who am I angry at? It’s the first thing in the morning, for god’s sake. Why would I be angry? Because I think of the people who have done crappy things to me in the past. I can make a long list. I can make a thick scroll and read it at the town square.

Which is why I have to constantly practice the “crappy people” post. I’ve gotten good at it, but It’s a constant effort. So it usually takes me a few seconds to realize that its “not useful” for me to be angry at anyone first thing in the morning. That technique works.

The next thing I deal with, and I’m not just saying this, I deal with it every day, is being scared. The media is shouting: The world is over! The debt ceiling is going to fall on us and shatter! The Europe contagion is going to spread. Swine flu will turn into dog flu will turn to cat flu and infect everyone. What if the stock market goes to ZERO? What if something happens to my kids? Or, heaven forbid, to me! What if I die of a long, lingering painful disease when I’m older. What if I make a fool of myself…again… on TV. What if someone I want to like me, doesn’t like me. What if I don’t get done anything I want to get done?  What if I have nothing to say to my therapist? What if I forget to answer the right emails? What if traffic on my blog is down? What if I make lots of mistakes in a row and go broke?

Here’s a big trick to help with all of the above: What if the opposite happens. What if I don’t go broke? What then? What if I make all my appointments? What will I do then? As soon as I feel a fear coming on, I fight it with the opposite thought. What if I get hit by a car today? Heck, what if I don’t? TRAIN yourself every day, every minute, to always ask what happens if the opposite of your fears comes true. Chances are that’s the outcome you need to prepare for. Although it’s an easier outcome.

Fear is a drag and it hits many of us a lot of the time:

  • –          It stresses you out
  • –          Stress causes illness and early death
  • –          Fear negatively affects your relationships. It’s harder for people to love someone who is constantly afraid.
  • –          Fear will affect your job. When I was a venture capitalist I could literally smell fear on the entrepreneurs who walked through the door and were just a bit too desperate for money.
  • –          You can’t have new ideas if you’re afraid. Or, at least, it’s harder.
  • –          You can’t be yourself. When you were a little boy or girl, you weren’t afraid all the time. It’s not the real you to be afraid. It’s the not the real you to try to control everything and everyone else all the time.

We get afraid when we make choices. What if choose the wrong job? What if I choose the wrong girl? What if I choose the wrong business to start? Or the wrong stock to buy?

Wait a second…

That’s kind of funny. I just realized. I’ve done ALL of the above. Many many times. Who knows, I might even do most of them again.

(what a fool I've been)

Here’s, for example 16 out of the past 17 businesses I started have failed.

Here’s a time I had right after I separated from my ex-wife.

I’ve made wrong choices with my kids.

I’ve made many wrong choices as an entrepreneur.

I’ve been embarrassed many times. Like at dinners where I said the wrong thing and everyone ended up disliking me. Or at parties where I maybe had a bit too much to drink. Or if I lent the wrong person money.  Holy…I’ve made the wrong choices almost every single day of my life. What the heck happened?

And yet here I am. This moment I’m pretty happy. After all of that. All of that pain, fear, agony,  crying, desperation, futility, embarrassment, shame – here I am writing to you. It’s not like I’m a super success. Mark Cuban is more successful than me.  A lot of people are. Maybe most people are. It doesn’t matter.

But I’m here writing to you. Right now. All of those thousand choices that didn’t work out, didn’t matter after all. I’m right where I want to be. I even had to make Claudia HER coffee this morning. So God, that means the deal is OFF!

Does that mean no choice matters? Of course not. Don’t kill people if you can avoid it. Try not to harm people at all in fact. Then do the best you can to be happier. When you’re afraid, it’s harder to do the activities that will increase happiness: the Daily Practice, for instance, that I’ve outlined, is hard to do when you’re afraid. Or the Nine Ways to Be More Creative.

The key is: everytime a fear comes up, TRAIN YOURSELF to immediately ask the opposite: what if it doesn’t happen? Because 99% chance it won’t. And then you can know that when it’s all said and done, maybe you’ll be sitting down at your computer. With a cup of coffee next to you.  Writing to me.

Or something like that.

—–

See Also, NINE WAYS TO FIGHT THE FEAR

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  • Caromusa

    “Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe”.
    I have that glued to my computer at the office, because I tend to worry too much.

    • http://www.rockprodigy.com John Maher

      “Worrying is like praying for something bad to happen”.

      … helps me quite a bit.

  • wsc

    james, you seem to be on the down cycle of your posts.  i may be imagining this but it seems like your gloomier posts come in bunches (not that this is such a gloomy post by any means). 

    anger/fear are different reactions to the same stimulus and your remedy, basically positive thinking, doesn’t always come easily…but you’re right, you have the choice to look at things in a positive light, or not..whether it comes easy sometimes just depends on the day.  i’m not a believer in destiny but there are things that affect your life that are largely out of your control and sometimes you need to realize that rather than being miserable for not being able to control them…on the other hand, as you’ve noted in past posts, there are things that are within your control, and you can only try your best to influence those factors…

    mark cuban is an example of someone who is super successful through perseverence, obviously, but also because things went his way and he made some decisions that worked in his favor (am i just rationalizing, or if you look at anyone super successful, can you make the same argument?).

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

       Thanks wsc, although I view this as a very positive post. Basically, everyone feels fear. This is my particular antidote.

      • wsc

        i agree, james, the message is a positive one, and i got that, but i think the tone wasn’t overwhelmingly positive.

        as for my ‘gloomy’ tag, it was a little late. i meant to convey that 2-3 posts ago…what do you think, and what do you attribute it to, biorhythms, low energy, man-period?

        …i’d probably stop reading if every post was about unicorns and rainbows so i’d never be against honest writing…

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

           I like to mix it up. I figure i have several types of posts:
          – autobiographical stories
          – positive lessons, combined with stories (like the recent, what i learned from hula hooping)
          – positive lessons, combined with stories of others (like the recent Schultz one or the steve jobs one)
          – positive lessons, combined wth stories of people i’ve interacted with.

          of the stories, some are more negative than others. At the end of the day, people (myself included) relate to people who have been through hardships. Everyone has been thru some hardships. So I share mine.

          Most people are afraid to share theirs for various reasons. I’m not criticizing that. there’s certainly some stories I can’t share so as not to hurt specific people. But there are many stories I don’t mind sharing. Probably more than most people are willing to share.

          • wsc

            that’s what makes them compelling, as well as some of the crazy (read brillian) sh*t you’ve done (not all of it, but to be able to live what you imagine is something a lot of people aren’t capable of doing)

          • Michael3223

            Care to share any of your fiction writing? Curious what “voice” you use.

          • Kevin Faul

            I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fear of success.
            Seems that with each layer of success comes a higher level of decision making with potentially more exposure and risk (of failure, of criticism, etc), and a fear of its own.I think the fears of success (or action) can be just as difficult as fears of failure. Fears of future decisions causing future failures, or fears of events out of our control causing our failure. In one case, you’re worried about how you’re (not you, literally, but the general ‘you’) going to pay an electric bill or whether your neighbor WON’T think you’re successful while (maybe) all your friends are in the same situation -comfort in numbers-…while in the other case (you are on your way to success), you’re worried about whether a comment in the media will come back to haunt you or whether your investors will hate you or whether a new idea will get funding or if you’ll fail at the next step toward your idea of the ultimate success and won’t know what to do next…the big uncertainty of an unpredictable future.

            I don’t really have an answer here, it’s more of a question: 

            are people so afraid of their own success or trusting their own judgment that they end up never putting themselves in a position where they can be successful beyond their dreams, or is it that they are so afraid of failing or being seen as a failure, that they never really try to be successful but just try to avoid total despair and end up mediocre? 

            I’ve seen too many people with potential who never follow through on any of their ideas and I keep asking why. The only thing I can assume is their fear of trying and failing…

            Are fear of success and fear of failure one in the same?

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

       Thanks wsc, although I view this as a very positive post. Basically, everyone feels fear. This is my particular antidote.

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

       Thanks wsc, although I view this as a very positive post. Basically, everyone feels fear. This is my particular antidote.

  • wsc

    james, you seem to be on the down cycle of your posts.  i may be imagining this but it seems like your gloomier posts come in bunches (not that this is such a gloomy post by any means). 

    anger/fear are different reactions to the same stimulus and your remedy, basically positive thinking, doesn’t always come easily…but you’re right, you have the choice to look at things in a positive light, or not..whether it comes easy sometimes just depends on the day.  i’m not a believer in destiny but there are things that affect your life that are largely out of your control and sometimes you need to realize that rather than being miserable for not being able to control them…on the other hand, as you’ve noted in past posts, there are things that are within your control, and you can only try your best to influence those factors…

    mark cuban is an example of someone who is super successful through perseverence, obviously, but also because things went his way and he made some decisions that worked in his favor (am i just rationalizing, or if you look at anyone super successful, can you make the same argument?).

  • wsc

    james, you seem to be on the down cycle of your posts.  i may be imagining this but it seems like your gloomier posts come in bunches (not that this is such a gloomy post by any means). 

    anger/fear are different reactions to the same stimulus and your remedy, basically positive thinking, doesn’t always come easily…but you’re right, you have the choice to look at things in a positive light, or not..whether it comes easy sometimes just depends on the day.  i’m not a believer in destiny but there are things that affect your life that are largely out of your control and sometimes you need to realize that rather than being miserable for not being able to control them…on the other hand, as you’ve noted in past posts, there are things that are within your control, and you can only try your best to influence those factors…

    mark cuban is an example of someone who is super successful through perseverence, obviously, but also because things went his way and he made some decisions that worked in his favor (am i just rationalizing, or if you look at anyone super successful, can you make the same argument?).

  • Tim

    You cannot be in control of your life if is full of negative thoughts. It doesn’t mean that you should not deal with reality, but looking for positives in anything is the preferred path.  Even when I had very bad things happen to me, I always was able to maintain some level of control when I knew the future was brighter than the present, when I knew this time would pass.  And so far, it always did.

    James, you say that you are not a success but you have a loving relationship with your wife, your kids and you seem to be enjoying a good period of life together and you are writing an interesting blog.  You think Mark Cuban is more successful because of his money or was he just luckier?  Remember, you can’t take it with you.

    Regards
    Tim

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

       Hmm, I think people are missing the point of this article. I apologize
      for that. The article is about providing an antidote for the fear that
      everyone naturally fears. Sorry if there is confusion. I am quite happy
      where I am right now.

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

       Hmm, I think people are missing the point of this article. I apologize
      for that. The article is about providing an antidote for the fear that
      everyone naturally fears. Sorry if there is confusion. I am quite happy
      where I am right now.

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

       Hmm, I think people are missing the point of this article. I apologize
      for that. The article is about providing an antidote for the fear that
      everyone naturally fears. Sorry if there is confusion. I am quite happy
      where I am right now.

    • http://www.zacharyburt.com/ Zachary Burt

      james’s whole point is that you can generate luck.  and if you do the daily practice you will not only generate luck but also more positive thoughts.  “practicing positivity” means nothing without taking aggressive action which is what james’s 4 daily practice points are all about

      peace

  • Tim

    You cannot be in control of your life if is full of negative thoughts. It doesn’t mean that you should not deal with reality, but looking for positives in anything is the preferred path.  Even when I had very bad things happen to me, I always was able to maintain some level of control when I knew the future was brighter than the present, when I knew this time would pass.  And so far, it always did.

    James, you say that you are not a success but you have a loving relationship with your wife, your kids and you seem to be enjoying a good period of life together and you are writing an interesting blog.  You think Mark Cuban is more successful because of his money or was he just luckier?  Remember, you can’t take it with you.

    Regards
    Tim

  • Tim

    You cannot be in control of your life if is full of negative thoughts. It doesn’t mean that you should not deal with reality, but looking for positives in anything is the preferred path.  Even when I had very bad things happen to me, I always was able to maintain some level of control when I knew the future was brighter than the present, when I knew this time would pass.  And so far, it always did.

    James, you say that you are not a success but you have a loving relationship with your wife, your kids and you seem to be enjoying a good period of life together and you are writing an interesting blog.  You think Mark Cuban is more successful because of his money or was he just luckier?  Remember, you can’t take it with you.

    Regards
    Tim

  • wsc

    btw, i’m not tim

  • Min Yeo

    James, Thank you. This is a great post , reminds me of one of the Patanjali sutras about contemplating the opposite, but I had never thought of applying it this way!! 
    Love your blog, and watching your little girl dance moved meto tears

  • Min Yeo

    James, Thank you. This is a great post , reminds me of one of the Patanjali sutras about contemplating the opposite, but I had never thought of applying it this way!! 
    Love your blog, and watching your little girl dance moved meto tears

  • Min Yeo

    James, Thank you. This is a great post , reminds me of one of the Patanjali sutras about contemplating the opposite, but I had never thought of applying it this way!! 
    Love your blog, and watching your little girl dance moved meto tears

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Min, funny. It is inspired by Yoga sutras 2.40-2.50

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Min, funny. It is inspired by Yoga sutras 2.40-2.50

      • Mountaingirl

        Which yoga sutras translation are you reading? I’m looking for a good one.
        I usually wake up in a positive and hopeful frame of mind, but by the time I go to bed I’m despondent.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Min, funny. It is inspired by Yoga sutras 2.40-2.50

    • Syren

      I loved the video of his little girl!  Choo-choo-ch-boogie!  So darling and so fearless.  I love her.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

    I’ve never been able to figure out what a God could want to make (him,her,Them,or it)think it’s all good.That is just one of many reasons I don’t believe in God(s) though like you I make similar deals everyday.I continually talk to the God I don’t believe in.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      In the article I’m almost talking to god as a joke. BUT, sometimes things are such that we just throw up our hands and have to say, “I can’t do it. It’s out of my control. What do you want me to do.”

      And we ask then, who is the “you” that we refer to? clearly its not a guy with a beard up in the sky. But I like to think of it as the creative force inside of me that’s dying to be unleashed. So often we suppress it when we try to control the world around us. But creativity needs lack of control.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

    Fear and Trust,I’m not a fan of either of them.

  • cindyluwho

    Well I had just typed out a very lengthy comment and then deleted it….because I was afraid it sounded stupid!!! I guess fear creeps in everywhere…even in something as small as making an anonymous comment on a blog.  Great Post James.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      NEVER worry about how you sound on this blog. ANd you’re right, fear does creep in everywhere, all the time. I think a lot of people are, literally, afraid to admit that.

    • Sooz

      I pretty much sound stupid everyday(just ask my offspring..:)
      One of these days they’ll appreciate how stupid I am.

      don’t ever hesitate/delete a thought process..that’s imperative.

        

      • Sooz

        they have ‘HUGE’ respect and that’s all that matters to me.

  • http://www.zacharyburt.com/ Zachary Burt

    you know they have machines that make your coffee for you automatically at 5am?

    i’ll buy it for you as a gift

    http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Coffee-4-Cup-Programmable-Coffeemaker/dp/B0008JIW8U/

  • FrankK

    Wow, interesting how everybody gets a different take on this post.  Personally, I thought this is one of THE most upbeat posts I’ve seen from you, James!  I mean, sure, the title says “I Woke up Scared and Angry Today”, and the first paragraphs are about that, but for me the rest of the blog is about how you deal with it very creatively and positively.  If one reads the entire article, I fail to see how this can viewed as a downer. 

    Nice Work!

  • SteveO

    James,
    I read yesterday’s post about you speaking at The Big Picture conference. I think you should talk about ‘honesty’ in the financial services industry. You seem to be good at being honest and you’re much more honest than most of the sharpies at that conference. I think the age of massive deceipt in the financial markets is coming to a close and that clients of all stripes will place a high value on honesty (perceived or real) going forward – just a thought.

    I always appreciate your brutal honesty. it’s made me think.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • S34ndad

      I agree. It could be a “meta-topic” as in who is giving their honest truthful opinion on what they see as The Big Picture and who is just talking their book or giving some form of wishful thinking based on what will benefit them personally. Say what you want about Dow 20K, I think it was honest. Also since all financial media is entertainment, the hula hoop is mandatory.

      Is the Ipad the new hula hoop?

      • Sooz

        ditto..agree!!

    • http://profiles.google.com/altucher james altucher

       Hmm, thats very interesting. That m ight be a good topic. So many people in the financial services industry are afraid to be honest. They are afraid to lose clients, or to be perceived as less than perfect.

      • Barker. Bob Barker, 007

        That would be a great post. HONESTY.  Do the fund managers honestly go to bed and have a good nights sleep knowing they have added to their own nest egg, while the average joe latecomer, see’s his money blow up in a clound of smoke in the great stock market (PONZI) scheme.
        Honesty does it work?

    • Annon

      Sorry I have to ask, is your username a reference to Subject Steve by Sam Lipsyte?

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

    What if what you fear does happen?  I mean certainly before it happens and you are fearing it, you can trick your mind into not fearing it, but then it happens… then what?
    ___

    Maybe I am too old, but after a certain number of years, you see so many bad things happen to yourself and people you know that it a matter of when, not if, something bad is going to happen.  It is going to happen, maybe not to you, but to somebody.

    * not intending to scare anyone

  • Michael3223

    Could you provide some links to some of your favorite websites
    particularly those from the world of words /ideas/ videos sans investing
    sites?  Cheers!  This one if for your daughter if she likes “hoofers”
    -it’s intrepid Fat Boy..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hDGAv...

  • http://economicdisconnect.blogspot.com/ GYSC

    Thanks James for the post. I usually only get the “scares” at night when I go to bed, the morning is best time. “Fear is the mind killer” as Muad’dib says.

  • http://mattreport.com Matt Medeiros

    Great reminder. I get hit with the fear stick everyday. Everyday I wake up thinking, what if I can’t make this startup happen. 

    Then, I realize, I’m 99% better than my competition. All is well. 

  • Jsrsnk1

    Super post James. Helpful to me and likely helpful to others too.

    Reminds me a bit of what my Mom used to tell me (in a quite abbreviated fashion) when I was about 5-6-7ish years old about my near constant dire fears, which was…

    “Yea, well that’s not likely to happen and until it does get your little bottom moving”. 

    She was correct of course, some 98%+ never did happen and I’ve obviously survived the ones that did.

    Since I now have and endless litany of all grown up fears, I usually remember her words and get my not-so-little bottom moving.

    Again, wonderful post and Thank You.

  • Jsrsnk1

    PS—-someone I consider to be very wise once told me the FIRST thing I ought to do EVERY morning when I open my eyes is to say Thank You, because their will come a morning for me and everyone else on the planet when I won’t be waking up (here anyway) anymore.

    Amazingly, when I remember to do this and think of why I’m doing it–it truly does seem to change the nature of my outlook on things that day. Honest

    • http://profiles.google.com/altucher james altucher

       I like that.

  • Jbshaw

    I’m a few years older than you with two daughters, 8 and 12, so there are similarities.  Reading your blog since last fall has been very enlightening as I find myself agreeing with and having had many of the same feelings and thoughts as you.  Many ups and downs with too many downs right now, but your blog has become my therapy session.  Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/Tahoe58 Peter Jalkotzy

    Great post.  Enjoy your blog a lot.  The best trading quote I received from my first trading mentor  “a house full of gratitude has no place for fear to hide.”  Trading On.

    • Sooz

      there’s a lot to be said for gratitude!

  • Rgnant

     I heard a quote once that stuck with me:  No one knows enough to be a pessimist.

  • Anonymous

    One allure of fear is that in a perverse way, it reduces uncertainty.  When you are afraid, you know just what to expect.  It might be awful, but at least it’s predictable.  There’s comfort in that.  It makes your world very small, and really blows things out of proportion.  

    Years ago, I was out of work for nearly a year – a very fearful and depressing time for me.  During  this time I volunteered at a local hospital.  I’m chatty, so the nurses had me visit and talk with patients – usually the lonely ones.  Some of those people had lives and stories that just broke my heart.  People who just never had a chance at anything I would recognize as happiness. I think of that time and remember how all the problems I ever had were suddenly made trivial.

    • http://profiles.google.com/altucher james altucher

       We always know intellectually that “there’s always people worse off than us” but its all relative. We have a natural instinct to feel fear. Just by being human/animal. But then is the challenge to overcome those fears. One good technique I think, is what you say – that there is always worse. For me, I try to reverse it and always ask the opposite, siince it’s the opposite of what I’m afraid of that always tends to come true. Or most likely

  • http://www.jeffdolan.com Jeff Dolan

    Thank you for writing this post. So many need to hear this message.

  • Pat

    Recently started reading your blog and just can’t relate to how somebody can be so scared, so often, that they’re constantly looking for systems and tools to overcome it?

    • Dee Bai

      Good for you! The rest of us are perhaps not so lucky…

  • Dgarber

    You know, my friend, I remember something I once read. “They might kill you but they’re unlikely to eat you.”

    Repeat after me, “It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter…”

    Then again, they just might eat you too…

  • DAve

    nice concept – train yourself for the reverse of fear, I never thought of that. great post!

  • doug graves

    Here I am on the other side of the world feeling exactly the same way.  I’m thinking I ought to find a way to get back to North America.  (I wonder if you need a passport to go back home?)  Some days I hate life and wonder if there will ever be a time when I am unafraid and happy.  The next week is full of stuff I don’t want to do, for people I can’t stand.  James, take it from an expert:  Anger is pure fear.

  • Cmichelson

    James, time to tap into your inner Jew and embrace the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur.  I’m not even Jewish but each year, I fast and dig deep into the list of those who’ve hurt me and those I’ve hurt.  I think the Jews were onto something with this.  quite a potent antidote to the crappy people problem.  Humbling and rejuvenating at the same time.  Fear also evaporates in this place.  peace…

  • http://thelostfish.com Garyvise

    Great post James.  It is nice knowing that people do have the same fears I do and there are ways to get over it.  Everytime I read about some type of virus or disease outbreak I have this feeling of “oh yeah great now I have to worry about catching this.” I should be happy just to wake up in the morning.

    Also thanks for talking about waking up angry. I showed this post to my wife since she thought that I could be the only one on this planet who could wake up in a bad mood. Sometimes when I have a bad day she tells me to look at porn before I go to bed, so I don’t wake up the next day pissed off.

    The porn doesn’t help anymore maybe thinking about this post will? Either way my wife will still think I am crazy, angry or not.

    I am just happy to be alive! Thanks!

  • GuestHost

    I want a coffee drink like that one, where can I get it?

    • Barker. Bob Barker….007

      Italy, Trieste to be precise…Where drinking coffee really is an art form.
      I was raised on instant coffee and the starbuck$ variety.  and the difference is HUGE.
      or if you want to be really adventurous, try the turkish coffee in Bosnia.  Its like rocket fuel for your head and ass!!!

  • Anonymous

    James, did you ever do a Carl Jung hang? The question I ask after realizing I’m caught up in anger is, “Who’s angry?” Because in the Jungian sense, I have this guy inside who’s always angry- that’s his job! He keeps an eye on things and watches my back. I find that as long as I acknowledge him, and value him, he doesn’t require too much energy. It’s great to know he’s there and that I have the option of letting him loose when need be. Reading Jung helped me get a handle on a lot of strange and interesting behavior.

    • http://profiles.google.com/altucher james altucher

      That sounds very interesting. I’ve never read anything about him but I will. 

  • Dutchie

    Great post! I have to remember this one.

  • Derek

    Head on over to FreeDomain radio and have a listen to Stefan Molyneux’s take on procrastination. I’ve listened to this particular mp3 a few time over the past year and it really knocks fear back where it belongs… a ‘primed watcher’ overseeing my world with an all seeing eye feeding my information which I decide is relevant or not!

    Seth Godin calls the same thing our ‘lizard brain’. Listening and reading Seth, Stefan and James I am totally changing the way I view my world for the better. I’ve been viewing it the wrong way for over forty five years so it’s never to soon to change.

  • cindyluwho

    In the interest of not allowing the fear of sounding stupid to creep in….

    For the last few years I have started my day angry and/or scared. My worst fear (or so I thought) came true a few years back ….as it it did for so many. I lost my job and subsequently what meager savings I had accuired in my 34 years of life. I always believed that being broke was the worst thing that could happen. When it finally did I was sure that one day I would just curl up and die. Some days I thought I would. I had to move 3 times in the last 3 years for work. I had to start telling my daughter NO to things that used to be no big deal…like getting a pizza. It was horrible. However I now see that it was one the best things that ever happenend to me. I had to quit drinking because I could no longer afford it. I got rid of cable for the same reason and my daughter and I now read together every night. It provides so much more joy in my life than an hour of silly news. Besides the media just wants to be a portal for fear. I also have become a much better cook. I have to create things from what is avalible. No more runnimg to the store to get the perfect ingredients that gets expensive. My quest for work has brought me back to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I spent much of 20’s here and was sad when I left. Arguably one of the prettiest places on the planet. I have never been more creative in my whole life. When you have to constantly come up with ways to make a buck it certainly gets your brain working.  None of things would have happenend if my worst fear had not come to pass. I still have not recovered financially but I have healed myself in ways that I never would’ve known needed healing had I not gone broke!!!

    There is good on the other side of all the bad things that scare us.

    Thank you James.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I could’ve written your entire thing at different points. It’s scary. Not only is going broke scary but the fear of going broke is even scarier. In games like chess there is a saying, “the threat is stronger than the execution.” Sometimes being afraid of going broke is scarier than actually going broke.

      The key is to get rid of that fear of going…X, where X is anything you are afraid of. Sometimes that fear becomes like a magnet and takes us straight to X. And sometimes. the exact thing you were afraid of, becomes the thing that heals you.

      I went to a therapist once and he said, “ok, we need to get medication.” And I said, “no. All I need is money. That will cure it. Nothing else.”

      And he said, “no. You need to sleep. Then you need to exercise. You’re smart. The money will come later.”

      I didn’t believe him. But I took the medication. And I slept like a baby that night for the first time in years.

      • cindyluwho

        Yes, I’m learning that the fear X is often much worse than the reality of X.

        Sleep would be welcome for me. I am sure like everything else….it too will come in time.

        Thanks. Nice to to know I’m not alone.

        • A H

          “I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life, a few of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain

          I love that quote – speaks to the power of thoughts…

  • Anonymous

    A little fear everyday is a good thing. Fear is what keeps you on your toes. Being an entrepreneur myself, having sold my last company (280 employees), having played football in highschool, 3 years of Kickboxing, 3 years of Army reserve and now 4 kids, 1.5 to 10yo, I know the value of a little fear. Being afraid that a competitor will win a bid, being afraid to loose (football) or to get my face caved in (kickboxing), being afraid to get a bullet in the head and being afraid that anything bad would happen to my kids, is what I consider has made me succeed in life and succeed my life. The many, many, many times things didn’t go well, is when I let my fear get too big and didn’t react in time to curb it.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      A little is good. A lot is very very bad.  And on a deeper level, where there’s nothing left but gratitude for the moments we get to spend there, then there’s no need for the fear at all.

  • http://manonthestreet.com manonthestreet

    Dr. James….I respectfully request a consultation…..some facts about me:

    I wake up in a panic every morning…not a focused panic just a general state of panic. I hate this but it does get me out of bed as soon as my eyes open.

    I constantly regard myself as ‘not content’, yet I look back at my life and think “Boy I was really happy then and everything was fun”…I know I will look back at the present and think the same…why cannot I realize these things in the present. I don’t really accept the concept of ‘Happy’

    I am extremely apathetic about most of the subjects that most people hang on. The only thing I seem to care about is my fitness level, and I care a bit too much….

    I think I know what steps to take to be happy, yet I never seem to take them…

    What is my fucking problem?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m going to go in reverse order, staring with your last line:

      A) are you fucking anyone? Hopefully there aren’t actually problems there.

      B) Maybe start off with baby steps, or no steps. This sounds cliched. But if you actually know what steps you need to take (not an easy accomplishment so that’s a good start) then just take no steps and visualize yourself as having already taken those steps. Imagine it as much as you possibly can. Practice being happy without taking any steps. It’s like that book, “Zen and the Art of Archery”. Same thing! Visualize hitting the target. Then you will.

      C). You say, “I am extremely apathetic…”
      Congratulations! Most people are pathetic rather than apathetic. Believe me. The more apathetic you are, the happier you are. Some guy the other day was ranting at me about Democrats vs Republicans. I kept trying to tell him I’m neither. Once you get a “stance” or a “label” it gives you a convenient excuse to hate all the people with other labels. Better to be apathetic than pathetic.

      D) I totally know what you mean. I do that all the time. i think back to times when I was miserable but I should’ve been thinking, “man, this is the time of my life.” But you already know this. I don’t know the specific detais of your life. Perhaps you are not content with your job. Or with a relationship. Or with your status as a parent. I’m unsatisified with some things right now. So I do “B” above and then I do the same tricks I do in the “power of negative thinking” post. I label thoughts useful or “not useful”. So when I think about a situation that “sucks” then I immediately (hopefully) say to myself “that’s not a useful thought”. I practice doing that until I’m back on track thinking useful thoughts. It works if you are determined to stick with it.

      E) As can be seen in the comments to this post (plus the post), I think most people wake up in a panic. They think “what if X” where X is something bad. So as soon as you think that, start thinking, “What if -X” where X is the reverse. -X is the thing that’s actually likely to happen.

      F) you actually didn’t give me any facts. But I do know this: if you consistently do the above plus the stuff here: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/how-to-be-the-luckiest-guy-on-the-planet-in-4-easy-steps/

      then the moments of panic will become less and less. the moments of contentment will become more and more. Life will slowly but surely change. I’m not saying this because I’m tryng  to sell you anything but because I know it worked for me many times plus i get the thank you letters from other people and situations where it worked.

      • http://manonthestreet.com manonthestreet

        I will in earnest attempt these actions/exercises.

        I will check back in a week…..thanks!

  • LB

    I like your trick “what if the opposite happens?”. Another that I’ve come up with is “which choice would I make if I knew that it was eventually going to lead me to the same destination as any other choice I might make?” This helps me to worry and hesitate less. I need action! not hesitation.

    Another great post James. Thank you.

  • Rob Liano

    1. Concern: means to “have an interest in, give attention to, be
    engaged by a situation, as a matter of consideration or responsibility”

    2. Worry: is “a disquieted uneasiness of mind, an anxious
    apprehension concerning an impending or anticipated situation; fretting
    about a foreboding misfortune or failure.”

  • Msstrong24

    Im curious as to how much the fear helps spark the fire under people’s butts that enable them to improve their situation?  In other words, I too am constantly afraid of going broke, losing friends, etc.  I would prefer to be apathetic about this stuff and enjoy having more pleasant thoughts.  But would you agree that a “healthy” amount of fear motivates some people?

  • Kb

    generic xanax .25 is so minimal you won’t notice, yet you will notice that you aren’t freaking out as bad.  It’s 4 bucks a month with insurance.  Just sayin.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3SBLZEVX3T5Q7EMD6QMWAOYLY4 fear_the_euro

    Isn’t there a sort of arrogance in being hard on yourself?  Comparisons kill.  The thing is to find the situations that allow you to be content.

    Some years ago, I worked in a chemical plant.  This is no big surprise, once you know that I’m a chemical engineer.  I liked the work and the people, but medication that I chose to take for a year to deal with the depression that I experienced over the death of my sister had bad side effects, and they made it difficult to work the shifts required by the job. You can’t do plant inspections when you’re stuck in the bathroom. I got another job, and I’ve been stuck at a desk ever since then.

    One of my former colleagues called me yesterday, and we are both up for the same job at another chemical plant.  There will be several people hired, so it’s not a “him or me” situation.  His question was interesting, and it was “Why would you take a pay cut for the job?”  In the course of my desk jobs, I’d gotten promoted to a higher salary than I would earn at the plant The answer is two-fold, first, I enjoy working in plants, and second, I don’t have to chase every dollar that I can possibly earn. He declined the interview, but I’m going to take it.

    The irony of the story is that my colleague claimed that he would take any job, even sweeping the streets, to get away from his current job.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Hey, thanks for this comment. People figure it out with money. But its hard to figure it out with happiness. Sounds like you are doing a good job figuring it out. Congrats on that and the new potential job.

      What’s also interesting to me and somewhat unsaid in your comment is – there is HIRING happening.

  • Stranger

    James, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now and it’s really uncanny how you always seem to post exactly what I need to hear.

    I’m going to go tell fear to piss off, and start filling up my sketchbook.

    Thanks James.

  • Integrity

    Altucher all day, screw shakespear! . . .I could trade all my classes for this blog. Its fun. Its realistic. Its inspiring..Hard to find such combination.

    Thanks!