Clean Your Room


Did I just do bullshit? That sounds disgusting but I’m being sincere. Did I write some bullshit down here? Because I wrote in the last post, “be kind to yourself”. Do that before you attempt any other method for being happy (religion, money, yoga, love, etc). You can’t attempt any path to happiness if the starting point is empty.

But someone asked the obvious question: what does it mean to be kind to yourself?

And I thought about it. At first it seems obvious. Look in the mirror (if you can) and like what you see. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It also doesn’t mean go out and buy yourself a chocolate cake (although that might make you feel good).

So I cleaned up my room.

Its part of my ongoing minimalist manifesto. A few weeks ago I got rid of a lifelong comic book collection. And yesterday I got rid of about 20 pairs of pants. 20 button down shirts. 40 or 50 books. And assorted other items. Now I open my closet and it’s a pleasure to look at its emptiness. I look at my bookshelves and it’s only filled with absolutely the books I most want to keep.

(the thrown out parts of my closet – going out of the house today)

So I was kind to myself.

Clean up your room. That could be literal. Or it could be metaphorical. You can go as deep as you want with this. You can physically clean up your room. Or you can apply all the levels of what I call the “Daily Practice” and decide what it means to “emotionally”  or  mentally or spiritually, clean your room. You decide what that means. Do a little each day.

People every day protest about society, are sad about their relationships, are upset at their jobs or bosses. But to create a society you have to be kind to others. To have a good job people have to be kind at the workplace. To be in a good relationship you have to be kind to your lover. But to do all of these things, to create a better society, first you have to make sure your “society of one” is good. And you have to do it today. Tomorrow doesn’t even exist yet. There’s only today. That’s being kind to yourself.

So, right now, clean your room.


this was short post. So I’ll throw one more thing in. Was just passing a sign on the road. It said, “when you hold a grudge you are letting someone live rent-free in your head.”

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  • James Francis Wagner

    Every time I’ve moved in the last 5 years I’ve left just about everything I own.  That get’s expensive.  But it sure feels great.

  • Jay Shirley

    Last night after being frustrated both with a failed hard disk swap (which left my desk a mess) and not finishing up some code, I got up and left.

    Then I came back and cleaned my desk. I like to start every day with a clean desk, but at the end of every day I don’t care. I just want to leave.

    This morning I woke up early, came back to my clean desk. I felt good and I got my laptop working properly and the code working better.

    • James Altucher

       Cleaning my desk right now!

    • 736hundred

      Now I feel like I better clean my desk before the weekend….so I can start the week fresh…’ve inspired me.  I ‘d take a photo of all these ridiculous post-its, but its too embarrassing.

      Thanks for the nudge.

  • Chris Selland

    visual clutter causes mental clutter – couldn’t agree more

    • Brandon


  • Anonymous

    Your article is at our upcoming blog@ 

  • Feng

    Be kind to yourself means …

    Drop all the expectations you carry around everyday. Whether the expectations are put on you by yourself, your parents, your friends, your boss, or the society.

    Completely accept who you are. Recognize that you are a unique godly cosmic being no matter how fat and ugly you may seem.

    Let go of all the bullshit shames and self hatred.

    Love yourself unconditionally even if you have fucked up and failed so many times.

    Don’t hurt yourself intentionally or unintentionally.

    And yes, get rid of all the unnecessary shit you carry around with your life.

    Eat food that’s actually nourish you. (By the way, James, you never write about food. I want to learn some secret recipes. Hook a brother up.)

    Let the truth in yourself be your only judgement.

    Be free.

    • jaltucher

      Yes, the metaphorical versions of “clean your room”. It’s endless the different ways to define it and yet infinitely hard to do every day.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been getting rid of stuff for the last 18 months – goodwill, craigslist, ebay, trash.  Gets better every day.


    • 736hundred

       same here, it’s a big task….

  • BarrieAbalard

    Me likey. Short but useful, all truth, no BS. Thanks, James

  • Brooke Farmer

    I love the quote at the end.

    I’ve got a lot of free loaders in my head.

  • Robinheinen

    I like this approach James, I’ve been reading most of your blog posts the last few weeks. I found these via LinkedIn, in case you wonder. I must say that I recognize the effect of many of your methods. Sometimes in stressful situations, I tend to forget these methods and that’s when the worst feelings of panic and stomach aches appear. Your blog made me realize the importance of what you call The Daily Practice, even though I never practiced any spiritual stuff, many people told me to try meditation. Just like you state; thinking about nothing is freaking hard!! Even for one minute… Maybe you could do a blog post on that(10 ways to think about absolutely nothing?), or did I miss a blog post maybe? At the moment I am setting up a business, which gives a healthy dose of stress (unhealthy at times as well). Especially struggling with meetings with eg. investors and other key players in the process (those freaking stomach aches!!). Any advice on that? How do you calm yourself down in those situations? I also just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences, I think they can be pretty useful, besides, your writing attitude is fun to read.


    • James Altucher

       Ok, youve given me a couple of challenges here. I will tackle them.

      • Robinheinen

        I can’t wait to read the results. I guess I’ll have to check your blog regularly (Smart move by the way, this reply is one of the best examples of getting your readers to come back…)

        It’s a shame I don’t like Twitter, otherwise you would have an extra follower (another challenge; try to convince me about the usefulness of Twitter as an entrepeneur, +1 if you succeed)

        For now, let’s see what you posted today!

  • Jac Xu

    Our leader Chairman Mao said” if you don’t clean your room, how can you “clean” (fight to the bad thing in the society) in the world, I think it is the same meaning. Becoming an organized person, you need to start from clean your desk, your closet and your room.  It also help you achieve things efficiently.

    • yada

      Often is the time I find myself with a difficult question and ask “what would Mao do?”. With very satisfying results.

      • Anonymous

        But I always get the same answer:  Send the dissenter to a labor camp!

        • Pei

          They you can not find things by yourself at your home!

  • kevin faul

    I think an interesting thing here is not just cleaning up and letting go

      but keeping things most important to you.Perhaps you keep things, like a shirt, book or piece of furniture.Perhaps they are memories, people, or friends and family. 

  • Bianca Tait

    Clean your room, clean your mind!  Good on you.  You have inspired me to do the same!  So thanks for that.

  • FrankinSC

    James. It is amazing how you often seem to post on things I was just thinking about. Thanks for this one.

  • Me

    Love you, man. Thank you.

  • mayur

    now that is the thing I m postponing since from ages… gotta do it. :)

  • Abby Marie

    reminds me of my favorite Mother Teresa quote, can also be taken metaphorically…
    ‘If everybody cleaned their doorstep, the whole world would be clean’ – Mother Teresa

  • Anonymous

    I wrote about this a few days ago and shared the specific tactics that worked for me to clean up my shit.
    The mental calm that arises from being this kind to yourself it amazing.

  • Brandon Harnish

    Well done. I’ve been reducing my possessions for about 2 months. Unexpectedly, it led me to Christ. Honesty also played a big role. I’ve been writing about it all at my little blog that pulls in about 40 views a day.

  • Brandon Harnish

     Yes! I get a little more inner-peace every time I get rid of stuff, even (or especially) the stuff I use and love.

  • Yerpal

    Adding to your final thought. The French say: ” The best revenge is to live Well!

  • Pam-a-lam

    Getting rid of our attachments means letting in more light…..purge baby purge!

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    I sent your articles links to all my contacts and they all adore it including me.

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