Ask James: Why Sex Motivated Me, How To Be Happy, Who Will I Vote For, and More!

stress

Every Thursday I do a Q&A on Twitter. I’m really happy people ask me questions. I also encourage anyone else to answer the questions in the comments below. This is a free-for-all. I need to learn the answers also!

Here’s expanded answers from this week’s. I expect to be done with the book, “FAQ ME” in about two weeks. Enjoy:

HOW DO I DEAL WITH STRESS?

Par Trivedi@Parito  asks: how can I reduce stress? And what is real stress? I hear so much about stress reducing health, but really don’t understand it.

ANSWER:

I feel really bad for you. I hate stress. Stress has killed me. Made me sick. Made me angry. Made me want to kill myself at times. Made me want to kill others at other times.

 

Stress is often caused by a specific problem that can’t be immediately solved. If it could be immediately solved then you would feel happy and not stressed. What are those problems?

Financial? Maybe you’ve lost your job and you look at your bank account and say, “I have six months left to live.” I have felt that stress often. Love? I like a girl but she may or may not like me or maybe she likes someone else. I have felt that stress as well. Both these stresses have come close to ending me up in jail or the hospital. It’s not fun to experience stress.

Other than the direct consequences of stress (you might hurt someone. You might hurt yourself), there’s the indirect consequenes: lack of sleep, drinking too much, using some other form of escapism or addiction to battle the drudgery of non-stop stress. Stress withers away at your skin until there’s only bone left. Withers away at your brain until there’s only insanity left.

So give up. You can’t solve your problem. Today.

But if you reduce the symptoms caused by your stress you’ll often find, magically, that the underlying problem is gone as well.

Physically: Exercise, eat well, sleep well, take walks, try to explore with your eyes details you’ve missed before in your surroundings.

Emotionally: be nice to people. Even the ones causing you stress. Be grateful for them. Forgive them. Only surround yourself with people who love you.

Mentally: challenge yourself every day. Come up with lists of ideas. Come up with lists of ideas for other people. Introduce two people to each other that you think will need each other.

Spiritually: Invite magic back into your life. You are feeling stress because you can’t control the world. One time I was seeing a therapist and he asked me, “what can I do to relieve your stress?” and I replied “write me a check for one million dollars”. And of course he could not do that. I couldn’t control anyone to write that check.

So I gave up. I surrendered. Dear god, it’s too much for me. YOU Take it! And give it. It doesn’t matter if you believe in god. There’s enough mystery in the world and inside of your brain that when you add it all together it equals….something. We don’t know what it equals. But it’s enough to bow down and surrender to.

I can’t take it anymore. You take it.

And mean it.

Then your stress will go away and, quite magically, you’ll find your problems that caused the stress will go away as well.

YOU HOLD YOURSELF BACK

mike@wiztrader  I spend a great deal of time holding myself back. How do I stop it??

ANSWER: The structure of your question is revealing. The two question marks. As if your own body (“holding myself back”) is totally out of your control. The use of the word “it”, again implying your inability to move forward is somehow an “it”, outside of you, controlling you.

So let’s ask: what is controlling you?

I will tell you. Your parents are. Your friends are. Your spouse is. Your job is. Your colleagues are. Your children are. So many people have expectations of you. Each one draws a circle around you. You can’t move beyond each person’s circle without disappointing their expectations.

And so where can you stand? You stand in the center, in the tiniest circle of all, the tiny circle that is the intersection of all the many circles drawn around you.

You need to step out of the circles. Forget about “it” for a second. There is no “it”. There is you. You need to step out of those circles but it’s not so easy. You’ve just spent the first half of your life keeping inside of them.

To step out in one second is impossible (or , at the very least, hard).

You are now a spy. A spy on your own life. There are enemies everywhere, keeping track of your position. You must attempt to fool them.

Do something a little different. Fingerpaint.  Take the wrong subway. Go vegetarian for a week. Leave in the middle of the day and don’t comeback. Go to a museum instead. Write a one page novel. Give advice to someone who didn’t ask for it and doesn’t want it. My favorite: return an email from 2007. Start it: “Sorry for the small delay.” Write an email to someone you hate and say, “How’s it going today?”

You can’t jump forward until you learn how to step forward. To step forward you have to start breaking through these tight circles wrapped around you. You have to practice what it’s like to move outside the circles.

(fingerpaints: great stress reliever)

In the movie THX-1138 (George Lucas, pre Star Wars), all of the inhabitants of the underworld are told the world above has been destroyed by radiation. So they have to live in this tightly controlled 1984ish world with tight controls. The main characters, as they do, fall in love. They are chased for breaking the rules. Eventually they hit above ground and realize it is not wracked with radiation. It is, in fact, a paradise.

Give yourself time. Practice stepping outside the circles. Eventually you will break free into the above world. And nothing will ever hold you back again.

YOU JUST STARTED YOUR CAREER AND YOU WANT TO SUCCEED

Victor J. Torres@vjtorres11  asks: What would be the 1 piece advice you’d give to someone who is 24, 6 months into a career he loves –

ANSWER:

I’ll just tell you from my experience. I started at HBO and I watned to succeed at it. I was a “Junior Programmer Analyst” in the IT Department. But I loved HBO, the whole company, not just IT. And I loved the whole entertainment industry. I wanted to succeed beyond “just” being a tiny analyst in the IT department, playing with Excel spreadsheets and Unix programming.

I read everything I could about the industry. All of the major players at the time: Ted Turner, Murdoch, Michael Eisenberg, Jerry Levin. All of the mergers that had taken 80 years to form the industry. I read every book even though it had nothing to do with IT.

I read over and over about the history of HBO. How it started, how it became the first cable network to transmit up through satellite (thanks to Jerry Levine who later became the CEO of all of Time Warner). I learned all the bios of the top execcutives and how they built their careers (for instance, selling HBO door to door in remote areas of the country whenever Showtime opened up in that area of the country).

I went to the video tape library every day and watched every show ever on HBO. I lied and said I need to see them for work. I went to seminars about how HBO picked its slogan (“It’s not TV, it’s HBO”). I went to seminars at the Museum of Television and Radio. I spent weekends at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

Get to the point that when you say “we” you are not just speaking for your own identity but for the identity of your company, your bosses, your entire industry.

Then quit.

Now you can fill the gaps that are in your industry. Now you can succeed.

 

I’M A LAWYER AND WANT TO BUILD MY BRAND

Rosanne Felicello@rfelicello  asks: I’m trying to build my brand. I am an attorney and I have a solo practice (felicellolaw.com). Do you have any advice?

ANSWER:

How can you stand out in any industry? In any service? Particularly when you are a one-person service? There are many answers so I’ll give a few.

–          Give for free. Set up a blog and start answering legal questions that are common.

–          Advertise cheaply online, “I will answer legal questions for free” and then blog about the questions and answers. Why free? Give and you will receive should be your mantra right now. The more you give of yourself to the profession, to the people you want to help, the more returns you will have in the future.

–          One problem many people have is that very basic legal documents cost $1000s of dollars if you get them from a lawyer. One time I was starting up a fund. I took my old legal docs from another fund and modified them. My lawyer was OUTRAGED. He had charged me $30k for those documents and wanted to charge me again. I told him I spent the first $30k which means I OWNED them. He didn’t fight back. But why don’t you get basic legal docs (will, divorce, fund, whatever) and give them away for free on your website. And advertise that you are doing so.

Won’t people just take from you then and never use you? Of course not! It’s more than just a document to write a will. People will realize that. Then they will call you and trust you because they know they have already been getting value from you.

Search twitter for people asking legal questions. Tweet the answers back for free to them. Eventually hold a Legal Question Q&A on Twitter.

Guest post on other legal blogs. If you can’t guest post, then put comments every day on every legal blog you can find. At least ten comments a day. And update your blog every day.

Do all of this and you will find your brand building bigger than you thought could be possible and you will be turning away business.

 

WHO I’M GOING TO VOTE FOR?:

Tschad Erdström@TheSlycophant  asks: Who do you plan to vote for in November?

ANSWER:

I vote for “Nobody” for President. What has the President done for me lately. Any President. Name me one President that didn’t increase our military presence or destroy our economy in some form or other.

Right now the US has a military presence in 130 countries and we are bombing six countries. Plus there are rumblings about war with Iran. Is this not the height of insanity? Is my way of life really being protected when we bomb and kill little babies elsewhere? And spend trillions of dollars that could’ve been spent to help the lives of people right here in the United States?

Here is what the President can do according to the Constitution: he can veto bills and he can sign treaties. Two things he hardly ever does. He can also MAKE SUGGESTIONS to Congress. And he can throw parties for visiting dignitaries. I think that’s about it. Without looking, can you think of anything else he can do according to the constitution?

Let’s not forget also: the Constitution was written before phones, before the Internet, before even the telegraph. So there was no way to get the issues out to the masses. Why not set up Internet balloting for vetoes and treaties and even all laws? People say, “well then 51% of the people will vote to suppress 49% of the people.” And to that I say, “are you crazy?” What 51%?  Instead, there will actually be discussion about the issues in a way that is not controlled by Super PACS run by Sheldon Adelson or George Soros, two people who do not have the interests of most people at heart.

My thoughts on the GOP Primary. A travesty. A circus run by the media and the Super-PACS. The final ticket will be Romney-Rubio and Obama-Clinton. And then an election will happen.

And then hopefully, no matter who the winner is, we get Google Glasses and an ipad 8 and some more cures for cancer that hopefully the FDA, in their infinite stupidity, doesn’t try to squash. Innovation will cure America. Not a President or a congressman, or higher or lower taxes. A society is made up of people. If each individual finds the strength inside themselves to take the next step, then that’s the only next step for a country.

 

SEX MOTIVATES ME

Martin Higgz@marty7higgins  asks: what motivated you when you were 20, 30, 40 yrs old?

ANSWER: When I was 20 I wanted to write the “Great American Novel”. Now, why in hell would a healthy young 20 year old with no experience in life want to sit in front of a computer for 4-5 hours a day for maybe one to two years with little or no hope of actually getting published. In fact, I probably spent five years in front of that computer for five to ten hours a day.

One reason: sex. I though, perhaps misguidedly, that if I was the author of a great novel then despite what I perceived to be my other disadvantages, that girls would want to have sex with me. Lots of girls. Any girls I wanted, in fact.

What was wrong with me? Lots of things. For one thing, I lacked self-confidence. If I had spent those five years trying to have more confidence in myself, trying to fill the emptiness I thought a finished novel would fill then not only would I have been a lot more happy during that time, I would’ve had a lot more time on my hands (instead of writing four unpublished novels) and I probably would’ve been having sex with many more women.

Oh well, you are only 20 once. And I was 20 over 20 years ago.

At 30: same goal. But then I thought having a million dollars or more would do the trick. By the way, writing novels and having novels does do the trick. You get a lot of confidence (temporarily, until you slip back to old habits), and confidence gets you all the sex you want. Not money but being able to stand up and say, “I can rule the world if I want to but I just don’t feel like it right now.”

At 40: Finally, I have some confidence. So my goals are different. I have a healthy relationship with my wife. She’s beautiful and she loves me. I think.

Now, I want freedom. Freedom from what? I don’t know yet. But I know there’s still some emptiness inside of me. I know that every day I try to fill it in various small ways. I look for a path when I know, intellectually, no path is needed. One day I’ll find the right path. And I know it will be inside myself. But now I’m still looking for that elusive freedom from the forest which on occasion clouds my brain and soul.

 

THE CURE FOR APATHY?

Will Greenwood@wltgreenwood  asks: the cure to apathy with life?

ANSWER:

Robots have apathy. If you do the same thing every day, with the other robots, and then get unplugged at night until morning, then you join the other robots in their apathy.

I don’t want to say anyone is a robot. We’re all different. But look at the ways in which your life has become routine. In fact, list them right now. You take the train every day. You drink a coffee on train. You read the paper. You say hi to your boss. You gossip at the water cooler. You read a romance novel. On and on and on.

Make the list of 50 things you do every day that the other robots also do. Your routine. Your path to apathy.

Now change one of those things today. Then another tomorrow. Then another the next day.

Apathy will wither away.

 

HOW TO BE HAPPY?

Jack Bennett@32000days  asks: how to be happiest in life?

ANSWER:

Let’s say you want something. Let’s say it’s money. Or “enlightenment”.  Or, to be the star of a TV show. Anything that we’ve been trained in life to believe are reasonable goals.

The problem is, none of the goals are that reasonable.

They all involve a fight. You have to fight to make a lot of money. And often there are people who don’t want you to have it. And so then you have to fight with jealousy, either your own or others.

And then even worse, you GET your goal and you are still not happy. Evidence: look at all the rich, famous, beautiful people who have to be escorted off airlines because they spit on the stewardess. Are these people happy?

Or even worse: You GET and then you LOSE your goal. Losing $15mm for me in the summer of 2000 was the worst experience of my life. And then everyone laughing at me. Ugh, what a drag.

I was so miserable I could’ve killed myself. Maybe I would’ve if not for having two little girls along the way.

I had high expectations for myself. When I was in third grade I was calling MYSELF a genius. I had no shame about it. I was the world’s greatest genius. At the age of eight. And then I had to make millions. And I had to have sex with beautiful women. And I had to…I had to… had to…on and on and on. It never ended what I expected of myself.

ARGH! STOP!

Now I try to lower my expectations. I don’t need as much as I thought I did. I don’t need to be as successful an author as Snooki in order to be happy. I don’t need many of the things I used to think I needed, including some form of spiritual enlightenment.  Save those things for the people who are needy and think they need it to fill the emptiness.

And you know what, the more expectations I surrender on, the more I receive. The happier I get.

 —

Follow me on twitter and join me for the next Twitter Q&A next Thursday from 3:30-4:30PM EST

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  • http://twitter.com/ryanp2 Ryan P

    Robert Sapolsky studies stress in baboons and other animals. In his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, he argues that the reason that wild animals don’t have many stress-related physical illnesses is that whenever they are stressed they do something about it.  Fight or Flight.  In our modern world we’ve moved away from that, and often just sit around thinking the things that stress us, maybe type out a few paragraphs to try and solve the issue. 

    If we’re to take the lessons of nature seriously, the physical response is essential.  You need to simulate a freaking lion chasing you and do something about it!!  Go RUN!!! Run like you are scared for your life.  Go take a boxing class and fight!!  Fight like you’re fighting for your life.  That’s how you handle stress without affecting your health. Then when you’re done with that you can stop and think hard about creative ways to actually remove the stress from your life…

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Ryan, that is totally true. Our problem as a society is that we are bombarded with those “fight or flight” signals all day long and then we….stand still. So yes, we need to figure out a way to MOVE then. To change, to develop, to react. I don’t necessarily like to “FIGHT” or “FLIGHT” but daily change and improvement helps. Also, putting ourselves in less situations where fight or flight is demanded of us.

      • http://www.twitter.com/dcpetersen23 David Petersen

        I happen to know that both of you consume >750 mgs of caffeine/day, a drug that spikes cortisol (aka the stress hormone) levels.  You are both intentionally triggering the fight or flight reflex all day long.  Not that I’m criticizing — I have consumed inordinate amounts of caffeine and other stimulants in my life. Stimulants work wonders for productivity.

        But I would suggest that the first step to being free of stress is to not drink caffeine.  Or take adderall.

        You’ll probably be less successful.  But you’ll have less stress.  You want to be more successful, you say?  Well, success is a stressful enterprise! Something has to give, it’s one or the other.

        My guide to stress free living:
        Dont’ drink caffeine.
        Exercise every day.
        Sleep >8 hours/day
        Get at least 1 hour of daylight/day, around noon, no matter how cold it is.

        • http://twitter.com/jayuhdinger jay uhdinger

          Practice acceptance by practicing mindfulness and you become fearless and stress free. It works! (Even without getting a long beard and sitting in a dark cave for years)

    • Heather

      I really, really like this comment. I hadn’t thought of this in great depth before. It’s true that when I exercise – especially intensely and for a significant period of time – I instantly feel like the stress has magically disappeared. I feel nothing but joy for the next few hours as the “high” stays with me. And over time that feeling accumulates and makes you a more positive – and better-looking ;) – person. The benefits just compound. 

      People underestimate the power of physical activity.

    • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

      When doctors told subjects of a study that a particular medication may cause intestinal distress, a significant percentage of those people manifested that distress despite the fact that the medication was an inert substance.  They were prompted how to react and did indeed create the symptoms even though there was no physical reason they should do so.

      Sapolsky fails to consider this fact, that we are being taught what stress is and how to react to it.  Every time you read a story about stress in your favorite magazine (which is conveniently paired with an ad for drugs to treat “stress”) you are being taught what to feel and how to react.  Consequently, your body manifests the symptoms you believe you should manifest in response.

    • http://twitter.com/DailySuicide Jscott

      We also must consider that we humans developed Guilt and resentment.  Our Knowing that we know has a downside:  “Helllllllllllllo anxiety.”

  • Bryan McMillan

    Great stuff, James, thank you! I look forward to these Q&As.

    I agree more or less with your Nobody for President thoughts. I became eligible to vote in 1992, and the first time I cast one was a write-in for my Dad for President. I did the same for the next several elections, then stopped because why give that bad karma to my pops?

    I get condescending sympathy from both sides of the aisle when I express the same thoughts you did, here. IHope you fare better! It gets annoying surrounded by so much sound and fury signifying nothing. Election years are the worst.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Bryan, election years are definitely the worst. When I first wrote that I never vote i got a lot of hate mail. But my view is the best way to be “engaged” is to be a good person and show people that. That’s much more valuable than a single vote in NY.

      • Heather

        Agreed! I tell people I have no political inclination because it just seems pointless (not to mention I feel I don’t know enough of what REALLY goes on in politics – no one does). When they hear this they scoff. I even had one person go so far as to imply I was uninformed and “boring” because I didn’t have a stand on it. It’s not that I’m uninformed, it’s that I AM informed and have chosen to… not choose. In fact that is my stance – no stance at all. If that makes sense :)

      • Anonymous

        The last president I voted for was Harry Browne, and even then I knew my vote was worthless and a waste of time.

        But Harry was a great person and he used to end his radio show by telling the listeners to make sure they did not spend their week obsessing over the political issues that were discussed on the show, rather, he encouraged everyone to enjoy their lives and to do something special for their loved ones.

        Wise advice from a wise man.  

      • http://Rileyperformancetraining.wordpress.com/ Tom Riley

        People love elections because they like the fighting. They are either looking for affirmation or people to hate. It seems like people like to put themselves in camps whether it is Republican vs Democrat or any other causes one can thin of. As a baseball coach, people fight over minutiae of which guru they follow. I wrote about it today on my blog @ rileyperformancetraining.wordpress.com . My view is look inside yourself for affirmation and stop turning everything into a fight over minutiae.

    • L-Dopa

      Bryan, you won’t get any sympathy from me, not if you grew up with a father who you’d like to be president. If my father were somehow in a presidential lottery and wound up with the title, I’d assassinate him myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donovan-Moore/715651471 Donovan Moore

    Nobody for President.   Where can it buy the sticker?

  • amy731

    James, 

    Can I make a prediction? I think you will end up, like my father’s cousins, living in an ashram in India. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      As long as the plumbing is ok…

    • http://kymira.blogspot.com/ Swathi

       As, an Indian, am surprised why most people from India and in India don’t end up in ashrams to combat stress. T

      • amy

        That’s a good thing to puzzle over, Swathi. I think we sometimes think the answers are very far, far away when they are really a lot closer than we think. 

        On another note, I just got out of a great Zumba class. I love Zumba. Puts a smile on my face and I feel bliss for an hour straight. I noticed this one miserable woman flailing in the back with a bitter expression on her face. I thought, hows this not working for her? She seems like she’s ready to kill someone. When we both ended up at the water fountain I could smell the rancid smell of alcolhol on her breath. One thing for sure… there are no answers in that bottle. 

  • http://thirtytwothousanddays.com/ Jack Bennett | 32000 days

    I appreciate your answer to my question. Seems like we’re largely on the same page about that but I was curious about the specifics. Namaste!

  • http://kiddynamitesworld.com Kid Dynamite

    on sex as motivation:  I coached high school soccer this year.  One day, sitting around with a freshman and a sophomore on my team, I had the brilliant idea of asking them “what motivates you?”

    before I got the question out of my mouth,  they both blurted out “SEX”

    I was not going to touch that topic as a coaching tool though…

  • http://kymira.blogspot.com/ Swathi

    JUST STARTED YOUR CAREER AND YOU WANT TO SUCCEED:
     I started working from 1997 and did not know what is the mantra for success except work hard, until recently. 1.Once you learn about your company, try to know what your customer’s problems are 2. provide a sticky solution to eliminate customer’s problems 3. know the dynamics of your company and make sure that they know you eliminated a customer problem , however small it might be.

  • Anonymous

    That’s a pretty great response James, thanks. I think my symptoms of stress and my stress are possibly stemming from the same thing which is: drinking too much. I also thought this circle metaphor was genius:  

    “So many people have expectations of you. Each one draws a circle around you. You can’t move beyond each person’s circle without disappointing their expectations.
    And so where can you stand? You stand in the center, in the tiniest circle of all, the tiny circle that is the intersection of all the many circles drawn around you.”

  • http://courtreportinglife.typepad.com/ Courtreportinglife

    Great advice for the lawyer.  I agree, add value through added service, and don’t expect anything in return.  It’s a great way to sell youself. 

    The problem I’ve experienced is eventually you need a partner to help with the workload, and it’s hard to find others who believe in the same philosophy.  The clients won’t get the same service from your partner, and you lose clients because they want only you, and you can’t handle the workload yourself.

    If you stay small, a one-person business, it works, but how do you grow and find like-minded people? 

    • http://www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com/ Andreas Moser

      I had the same problem. Started as a one-lawyer firm and then added partners, up to 3 at one time. It messed everything up. Quality went down, we lost too much time organising and in meetings.

      I got rid of all of them and was alone again. From then on, I had the most profitable time of my firm.

      Of course you won’t be able to handle all the business, but you can increase your hourly fees and you can pick the clients the like and the cases you like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mark.L.Carson Mark Carson

    You have written a number of times:

    “Right now the US has a military presence in 130 countries and we are bombing six countries.”

    Can you provide a source to back up those numbers? I would hope that the “130 countries” is not just a count of the American embassies where we have Marine guards for security inside the embassy.

    In the past I’m sure you might have included the following in your “bombing” list:

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya

    I’m not sure what your 6th one would have been. But no matter, we are not “bombing” Iraq or Libya these days and drone strikes in Yemen are not much in the news recently. So what is your count today James. This is an honest question BTW.

    Cheers

    • http://www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com/ Andreas Moser

      And we’re already on our way out of Afghanistan: 
      http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/good-bye-afghanistan/ 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Fair question. The number “130” is something I read about six months ago so i could be off. I looked it up again today. According to Wikipedia, which references various sources, the number is 150:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments

      In terms of where the US is bombing, this is a list which may or may not be accurate:
      http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html

      but looks pretty accurate. They list 8 we are currently bombing but I’ve removed Libya and Iraq off the list although it’s unclear we are truly done with both those countries.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Mark.L.Carson Mark Carson

         The Wikipedia article you linked only shows the U.S. and 34 other countries in their list (which to be honest omits places with less then 50 personnel). The “150” number seems otherwise unsupported.

        The countries with less than 50 personnel are likely trainers or advisers invited by the host governments who are interested in common security practices.

        Your linked article also links to this linked Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases) article shows 27 other countries where the U.S. has installations or bases. Many of these are where we are partnering with other nations against the global war on terror.

        The other linked article (“History of U.S. Military Interventions”) has 8 countries with ” -?” for the end date. That does not mean there is hard evidence, even by that author, that there are ongoing operations in those countries (not all of which are certain to be “bombings”).

        I stand by my previous list that one can reasonable say ordinance from the sky may only be landing on at most 3 countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen).

        Not to debate the numbers any further, I think you try to cast whatever the numbers are in a fear mongering way. But I’m not entirely sure for what purpose.

        Always a pleasure to read your blog (even when I disagree with parts of it).

        Cheers

  • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

    James said, “So I gave up. I surrendered. Dear god, it’s too much for me. YOU Take it! And give it. It doesn’t matter if you believe in god. There’s enough mystery in the world and inside of your brain that when you add it all together it equals….something. We don’t know what it equals. But it’s enough to bow down and surrender to.”

    ——–

    While I respect most of your opinions, I vow to challenge this one each time you present it…. I mean that in a good way.

    Bow to nothing.  Surrender to nothing.  Do not let Jesus take the wheel.  Do not hand your problems over to any imaginary friend. 

    The more fatalistic/defeatist a culture, the poorer the people and the more likely they are to be controlled by a few individuals.

    The more fatalistic/defeatist the individual, the sooner they die of cancer, the poorer they are and the easier they are controlled by others. 

    Recognize that everything you need to deal with stress has been buried deep within the complex system that is your physical body.  Your ancestors had to hunt to fill their bellies, fight to mate and hide from other groups who would kill and eat them.  You want to talk about chronic stress…. it doesn’t get more chronic than that. 

    The word stress was not even used in this context until very recently.  The concept of stress is being continually foisted on us so that we become passive consumers of products designed to supposedly relieve it.  Life today is far less stressful than ever before.  You have all the natural pharmaceuticals you need flowing through your veins right now.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       What if you surrender to the parts of yourself you don’t realize existed. There’s all sorts of surender. Not just to imaginary friends. You can’t have control over everything. Your subconscious knows this but can help.

      • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

        Words are tools.  The words we chose can summon from within us extraordinary power or debilitating weakness.   

        You suggest that we SURRENDER to the parts of ourselves we don’t realize existed.  I say, do not surrender, HARNESS the parts of yourself you don’t realize existed. 

        While this may be simple semantics, those words create very different responses.   The mental images created by the two are very different.  The power of these mental images – visualization – can do remarkable things. 

        Words are tools.  The word surrender is a pair of handcuffs locking you to your present condition.  Harness is… well, a harness, connected to powerful horses, pulling you in the direction you want to go. 

         

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          The word surrender is also an admission that not everything is under our control. We can’t control the world. Sometimes things are happening to us. Good things or bad things. We can’t really harness the universe to do our bidding. But we can surrender to it, let our subconscious work on it, the parts of our mind and body we have no control over, and in that surrender find our answers.

          I am speaking just for myself in this. But it’s amazing how much this simple concept has literally generated money for me, generated relationships for me, and ultimately helped me achieve what I wanted.

          • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

            Trouble is, we don’t know where the line is between what we control and what is uncontrollable.  We might believe that something is beyond our control, then suddenly see it from an entirely different perspective and realize that we do indeed have some element of control.  And we always control one important element, how we react. 

            For every person banging their head against the wall trying to change something that is beyond their control, there are ten who have thrown their hands in the air, surrendered, given up, and are no longer trying when they actually have a hand in their own fate. 

            Who says we can’t harness the universe to do our bidding?  Who says we can’t influence our subconscious?    

  • Anonymous

    For stress I ask myself if in six months time if i’ll be bothered about what i’m stressing about, mostly the answer is no…

    I also listen to classical music or a little jazz

  • Shane

    James, I would really love to meet with you if I am in NY sometime. I am a techie, have done a lot of presentations in conferences… but over last 3-4 years (since I got divorced), something has messed me up. Social anxiety has overcome me. In front of people while doing presentations, I get nervous, my heart starts pounding, I get breathless and first few minutes are a total disaster. I used to rock these meeting rooms when I was in my late 20s. I have tried a lot of things, imagined the audience naked, tried to cool myself with singing something in my mind… hasnt helped. 

  • http://www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com/ Andreas Moser

    About stress: Go for a walk, take a book with you, go to the forest, sit down next to the lake and spend a few hours reading. Maybe add a cigar: 
    http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/smoking-cigars/ – It relaxes me tremendously.

    • http://www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com/ Andreas Moser

      And turn off your phone!

  • http://www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com/ Andreas Moser

    About lawyer marketing: I absolutely agree. I am a specialist in international family law in Germany and I have FAQ that answer the most basic questions for free: http://www.moser-law.com/faq.htm – This shows my clients that I know what I am talking about, that I am nice, and possibly even witty. They know what they get (which is the biggest concern for clients before sending you a retainer of 1.500 $).

  • theplumber

    vote for none of the above…. the republican cat fight, the present administration…sucks. gas at the highest levels, everyone pointing fingers…. the president taking credit for the most oil production in 8 years. (bs). we r in a cave being feed manure. what is the truth about anything?

  • tormunkov

    The optimal way to deal with stress is to bring on even more stress for a moment.
    Sit in a stable position where if you faint, it won’t be a problem.
    Exhale to empty your lungs of air, push out as much of the last few milileters with your diaphragm. Tuck your chin down against your neck.
    Close your eyes and explore the sensation of needing air.
    Do you feel a warming face, tingling ears, a slow crescendo of panicky necessity?
    Maybe some kind of dry coughing. Wait as long as you safely can before taking another breathe.
    When you need to breathe, lean your skull back towards the back of your neck, once you do this you are forced to take a breathe.
    Now you know what any man who pulls a rickshaw knows.
    Bear your head down when you want to increase your stress to better bear your load to accomplish your goal.
    Throw your head back in a measured way as you rest your burden in and take a break, locking in your past progress and conserving strength to finish your task.
    Throw your head back violently with abandon in the case of a dire emergency or necessity. Do not concern yourself with whatever you were doing, you can always start over.
    Maybe don’t even worry about anyone else at all until you are stabilized, let them fend for themselves.

  • Ben

    How to be…….Happy?

    A wise person knows when they have enough. (credit Buda or Confucius?) Maybe that should be…. a happy person knows when they have enough.

    I also think “enough” should include “answers”. How many answers is enough? In the spirit of apathy I think it would be boring to have all the “answers” we seek. No more questions means no more wondering.  Sounds like the beginning of apathy to me.

    More tolerance for ambiguity is one way we can lower our expectations on all the answers we seek. This may also lead to a little less conflict which could grow into a little more peace? Not to be confused with the piece of a** referred to in…. “Sex motivates me”.  There’s a paradox, who doesn’t what more (good) sex?

    Instead of Q&A, how about Q&P, question and ponder?

    Thanks to all that share and ponder……

    TOL (thinking out loud)

  • Jeffieronimo

    James,
    900 bases in 150 countries.  A growing US militarism we have all got used to.  The cost for these bases and our counter-productive, immoral  military adventurism  damages our economy. The damaged economy we leave our children. ” Nobody” for president is the best choice if you don’t like the ideas of the others.  I’ll be voting for Dr. Ron Paul, not because he is a great polititian but because he has great ideas.

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

    It’s easy to disrespect and discount politicians in a general cavalier manner, but bills do get written and passed into law.  Perhaps voting doesn’t matter so much if you are male(?)  But if you love a woman, or even care about any women, you may want to pay closer attention to who you vote for at all levels of government. 

    *not intended to imply other issues are not also important

     

  • Ben Chot

    Damn James.  I sat back in my chair when you wrote “Then quit.”  That was writing.

  • Gonzalo Gandia

    It must have been amazing to make USD 15 million at any time in your life. I know it’s hard to lose that type of money, but you did something very few people have ever done, or will ever do! Anybody who can do it one time has the emotional blueprint to do it again. No one can take that away from you.

  • Joe

    James – 
    Love your blog, your writing, your insights. But I’m a bit disappointed that a person who makes his living as a content and value creator would apparently:

    1. Steal someone else’s work without payment or attribution:
    http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-3781332-enjoying-the-sun.php?st=65d2589

    and… 

    2. Be too inconsiderate to even bother hosting the stolen content on your own server:
    http://www.rocksrevealed.com/cms/uploads/images/happiness/happy2.jpg 

    Bandwidth isn’t free. You have a busy blog. Your traffic repeatedly hitting the rocksrevealed.com server because of the hotlinked image could not only cost them money, but have an impact on their site’s performance as well.

    Now maybe I’m mistaken, and rocksrevealed.com is your site and/or you have the rights. If so, I apologize for being so presumptuous. But if I’m not mistaken… I’m calling you out. This is the action of someone who is lazy, cheap and inconsiderate. 

    That’s not you.

    You should know better. 

    And you can do better. 

    -joe

  • http://100mustreads.com/ Rick

    I’m happy that you don’t vote. I don’t either. I think people that DON’T vote are the ones who have the right to complain….we didn’t endorse the messed up system! Having said that, your views are almost exactly that of Ron Paul, who you didn’t mention. Ron Paul is now leading Obama in national polls, and Romney can’t beat Obama now without Paul votes…so are you sure that’s what the matchup will be??

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Well, its looking that way according to the delegate counts. But Republicans could have a wide open convention although it’s unlikely.

  • Alfie

    I have not read you in a while. This is due to me following your advice to stay off the internet and go to bed early. Your advice has been great, James.  Really really helpful….  But I had a little time today and stopped by to see what you have been saying. As usual, interesting stuff. Thanks.
    Maryann

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Thanks Maryann

  • Lawrence Wiggill

    Hi James, I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and you wouldn’t believe how much I’ve been able to relate to some of your posts. And how much some of your posts have helped me.

    Thanks

  • Artie

    They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  I have lost a fortune in the stock market but believe I have finally hit on something new and it’s so simple, a 10 year old could do it.  Well, maybe even younger because kids are so technologically adept today that they could go to a brokerage website, get a few hundred bucks from their parents, and do what I’ve been doing for the past few months.  (On paper, because I’m afraid I might lose more money.)  I’ve made a LOT of money on paper and only lost a tiny bit a couple of times – all from being disciplined to do what I plan to try shortly.  I’ll let you know how it works out in the real world.