Be Honest With Me
- Posted by James Altucher
I want everyone to be honest for a second and tell me. Because I don’t really get it.
1) Doesn’t wine taste bad? I mean, isn’t it AWFUL? Am I really the only one who thinks this? What would you rather have: a milk shake or a glass of wine? Now, I get it, you want to get buzzed or drunk. Or you want to get the girl you are with drunk. I get it. Been there, done that. So you drink wine. But several things:
- The actual taste is bad.
- You can’t sleep because of the sugar
- And then you feel bad in the morning (because, after all, alcohol is a depressant). You might even go to work, sort of sluggish, maybe a headache, and you think, “Oh man, I drank too much last night.”
But just be honest for a second: taste test – wine or vanilla milk shake. Which makes you happier?
2) Be honest: Do you really remember anything that happened in school? I’m not going to go on an anti-college rant here. I’ve done that enough. And I’m sure there are people out there who learned a lot in college. But seriously, I’m really trying hard to think what I learned in my classes (not counting what I learned outside the class, which is more or less what most 18-22 year olds learn whether they go to college or not). I learned that the “==” sign means equals in computers. I learned that people need 9 hours of sleep although later research might’ve changed that to 7-8. I learned the words “supply”and”demand” although I’ve never correctly used them after that. I’m 44 and I graduated college when I was 21 so maybe its reasonable that I forget a lot. But I remember what I learned when I was six (cursive writing, Greek gods, how to spell my last name) more than I learned in 4 years of college. Quick, without looking it up, when was Charlemagne born?
3) Children. Are kids that great? Like, I have two kids. And I love then.But they were HARD when they were growing up and I don’t think I even did 10% of the real work. Now they make me laugh but it’s still hard. Would I willingly be friends with an 8 year old? Not really. Would you?
Do I see myself in their poetically twinkling eyes? Not really. I hope they like me when they are older for all the shit I do for them now.
4) News. Is the news that interesting? Ok: Obama, Romney, some celebrity with big breasts, Greece worries (still), a horrible crime with a head decapitated and nobody can identify the body, and sports scores. Was it that great to take up 20 minutes of your life? Wouldn’t you rather read a funny book or watch a funny movie? Perhaps the only news that’s mildly interesting are the porn mags like People magazine. But ok, its titillating but much better to find it in real life.
5) Theater. I love a 90 minute funny movie. That’s about my limit. And it has to be hilarious. I need to be laughing. Or crying. Like “oh, the horror!” On occasion, I don’t mind good music in a movie, and I don’t mind quasi-religious things like “The Force” in Star Wars. For instance, the roller-skating scene in “Xanadu” is acceptable to me. I’m not smoking crack here. I realize that this is a matter of personal taste. (But click on the above link for the best three minutes of your day).
But do you really like theater? I just took my kids to a play. “Guys and Dolls”. THREE HOURS! With an intermission in the middle. Is it that great they had to see it for three hours?
By the way: If you want a movie recommendation: Here are my top ten. I mix them up in genres so if you don’t like some genres you can skip those:
- Schindler’s List
- Lawrence of Arabia
- The Godfather
- After Hours
- A Night On Earth
- Blade Runner
- The Conversation
- Slumdog Millionaire
- The Blues Brothers
- Groundhog Day (I threw this in as #11).
Oh, and for a #12. American Pop.
And the list can keep going. Please add to this list in the comments. Would you really rather see a play than any of these? ANY. How can anyone even do a play about Schindler’s List? And for that matter, is any play going to be better than the tv series “Arrested Development”?
6. Voting. Have you honestly ever voted for anyone on more than a local level that made your life better. Did Bill Clinton make life better? He was impeached and sticking cigars up interns vaginas while Osama Bin Laden was planning our future. And W was no better, killing tens of thousands in two or three or ten unnecessary wars. Who have you voted for that made a difference (above the micro-level, where believe it or not, if they made your life better then you are probably corrupt).
7. Meditation. “Oh, I calm my mind when I meditate”. Shut up. Forget about everyone else for a second. Do you really feel better, calmer, or wiser, because you meditate? Don’t answer if you are a Tibetan Lama. I’m not saying all meditation is bad. But the kind where you sit in the lotus position for 30 minutes and try to think of “no-mind”. i.e. “American meditation”. Does that really help you deal with life? Be honest. That’s 30 minutes you do every day. You could be watching cartoons instead. That will clear your mind. Stop bullshitting yourself. If you meditate then call people names on internet message boards then meditation did not help you.
8. Money. This is a tricky question. More money is definitely better. Or is it. I have a sample size of 44. (44 years old). My happiest year was 1995. I had no money at all. I didn’t even have a girlfriend for most of the year. I lived in forgotten outpost of NYC called Astoria. I played chess and backgammon and drank coffee every night with funny people. I watched movies for free every weekend at the Museum of the Moving Image. I wrote my phone number down on two dollar bills to waitress and strippers but nobody ever called. I was very happy all the time. Then I started to be an entrepreneur. Then I wasn’t happy anymore. It just took four years from then to be suicidal. So much for money. Be honest: what was your happiest year ever?
9. Vacations. Was it really that great to see the ruins of Rome? Does the steak in Argentina (14 hour plane ride) really taste that much better than the steak in the best restaurants in NYC (or Iowa, or wherever you are from)? Are the gardens in London really better than the garden outside your house that you lovingly made yourself? To do a vacation you had to deal with paperwork, getting to a plane, waiting for a plane, riding a plane for most of a day, checking into a hotel, and then DOING STUFF and spending money. Best vacation I ever took: 1996 I took a “staycation” in NYC. It was great. I explored empty neighborhoods (everyone was at work) and they were beautiful. I bought used comics in cheap stores I didn’t know existed. Even better than a staycation is a nocation (took one last week). Just staying home and reading and watching movies and maybe writing. Ahh, pleasure.
10. Great literature. Read out loud “The Canturbury Tales”, or Shakespeare. Or, heck, even “Moby Dick”. Can you really read that crap? It may have been good then but I doubt it. It’s mostly because of a lack of choices that people read stuff like that. Why doesn’t a single school ever teach about contemporary literature. Or, for that matter, why don’t they teach good television, which is far better than Shakespeare, which was the only choice for that day and age. Or good comic books. Get the series of graphic stories, “Tangents” for real literature.
11. The Food Pyramid. I have to throw this in there because my kid is IMing me about it right now (I don’t have conversations anymore, just iMs). She’s home sick so is missing a discussion about the merits of the food pyramid. Are you serious? The food pyramid is completely fixed by whichever food group industry pays the most to lobbyists. So why does my kid have to learn about it? Because her school gets money depending on how high the average test score is in the standardized tests that the government makes. In other words, the school doesn’t want her to eat better, but to become a brainwashed servant of the industries that spend the most money on lobbyists that, in turn, control the government.
By the way, this is not conspiracy theory. This is REALITY. This is how it works. I see it, know it, live it, breathe it, in my daily investing activities.
So my question is: (following the format of the other categories): have you ever once used the food pyramid to decide your food choices of the day?
So I just solved a lot of problems for people who have information overload: don’t waste time meditating, worrying about politics, reading the news, drinking wine (or eating the dinner that supposedly goes with the right wine), going on vacations, reading Shakespeare or some other BS book that is “literature”, worrying about exactly what you eat (portion control is the #1 thing to think about), going on vacations (you will save years of your life), worrying about promotions (spend less instead of getting an extra $200/month so you can slave to some fluorescent boss). I’ve just given you at least 10-15 years of your life back.
Over the weekend someone asked me about how to avoid procrastination.
I will leave this with the most important honest question of all:
Procrastination. What does that word really mean? It means you are doing something you like to do because you don’t want to do something you don’t like to do.
Hmmm, that sounds pretty good to me!
But….but….what if you have to do the other thing. The thing you are avoiding. DON’T YOU HAVE TO?
When a baby touches an oven it pulls its finger back and says “OW!” It learns not to do it again. Physical suffering is a great teacher. The same thing happens with emotional or mental suffering. We say “OW!” but we forget to learn not to do it again. Procrastination is a way of telling us what is causing us emotional and mental suffering.
If you feel yourself procrastinating, shift directions a little bit. You don’t have to go 180 degrees on us. Go 10 degrees off-course at first. Think of things in a slightly different way. Then go 20 degrees. Try it on. See how it feels.
Every day: declutter your brain, your emotions, the spirit of energy you had as a kid, just declutter. Throw stuff out. Get back to the honesty. Come back to the real world. I don’t want to see you reading the Canterbury Tales on the subway. Every day there’s a new person telling me about someone my age, give or take ten years, who dies from stress. Stress == information overload == cluttering the mind. Means not believing the BS that is handed down through generations to you. Don’t kill yourself just to satisfy the restrictions and boundaries your parents, peers, friends, lovers, government, and commercials have put on you.
Please, I also ask you to help me – where else are the lies? Where else do we put on heavy metal armor just so we can drown in the swimming pool. Tell me. And if you want to add to the movie list, please do so. The more fun movies I watch, the better life is.blog comments powered by Disqus