How to Be Less Stupid


I’m really stupid. I can tell you in advance. I think at heart, if I work at it, I can be smart. But at the moment I’m largely an idiot. I feel I have the right knowledge but I let a lot of stuff get in the way. You know: “stuff”. Worries, guilt, paranoia, grudges, resentment. Like, for instance: I resent the people who resent me. I think they resent me for no reason. So now I resent them. What a circle-jerk!

I used to think when I added stuff to my brain I’d get smarter. But this is not true. For instance, if I look up when Charlemagne was born I’d just add a fact to my head which I will forget tomorrow. This won’t make me smarter. Subtraction, and not Addition, is what makes the window to the brain more clear, wipes away the smudges, opens the drapes.

One example: the day I lost the deal to do Tupac’s website, I had a chess lesson afterwards. I couldn’t play at all. It was like I didn’t even know the rules. My instructor said, “what’s wrong with you today?” But I was ashamed. And angry at myself. So my intelligence went way down. Like 80% down.

So here’s my great list.

1)      Paranoia. I figure on the moments when you are paranoid (is she cheating? Is he stealing? Are they talking about me? Will they sue me? Etc) you lose about 30-50% of your intelligence. That’s a big chunk. For me, its because I can’t think of anything else. I would circle her house until the lights were on and then I’d knock on the door. Or I would go to his office and not leave until he showed up. Paranoia will destroy you.

2)      Resentment. Someone wrote about me a year ago. I hold a grudge. He was a friend, then wrote the worst crap about me. What a jerk. But when I think about it, I figure I lose about 20% of my intelligence. Particularly if the thoughts involve revenge. Then maybe 30% of my intelligence.

3)      Regret. I’ve written about it a billion times. I lost a lot of money in 2000-2001. I regret it. Or, I should say, I regretted it. I don’t anymore. How come? Because I saw that regret was taking at least 60% of my intelligence away. I couldn’t afford 60%. 2% I could afford. Not 60%. I didn’t start coming up with ideas for new businesses until the regret went away.

4)      Perfectionism.  When I was running a fund I never wanted to have a down month. I’d be afraid to talk to my investors then. One guy, who is still a good friend (I spoke with him today even) said, “listen, if you’re going to be a fund manager you have to be able to talk to people when you have a down month”.

But I was ashamed. When I lost my house, I moved 70 miles away. I didn’t want to run into anyone. I felt shame. When I write a blog post I think is weak, I might take it down before too many see it. I’m ashamed of it. I want to win the Nobel Prize for blog writing. Or at least 10,000 Facebook likes. But I can’t control that. I’m imperfect. The shame of imperfectionism takes at least 20% of my intelligence away. Because people sense and appreciate honesty and honesty about imperfections, believe it or not, creates enormous opportunities. I’ve seen it happen in my own life.

5)      Control. I want to control everything around me.  But sometimes things are bad and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sometimes you have to surrender and say, “this is bad now but good things will happen later”. Then a great weight lights off your shoulders.

You know why they always say “a great weight lifts off your shoulders?” because that’s where your brain is. And your brain is heavy. It rests on your shoulders. When stuff is weighing it down you lose about 10-20% of your intelligence. Give up control and get smarter. A simple example: you are late for a meeting but there’s traffic. You can think “God damn this traffic. Why am I always in traffic?” Or you can be thinking about something smart: like how good bacon tastes. Can I make a better bacon? Or how would I start a helicopter airline to take me from one side of the city to the other. These seem like dumb thoughts. But they are much better than “God damn this traffic!”

6)      Guilt. A good friend of mine wrote me recently. I should say, wrote me six weeks ago. Every day when I wake up I tell myself: don’t return emails until you read, then write. But then sometimes I have other things to do. Meetings. Or BS stuff. Or eating. I say, “ok, I will return that email later.” And then when later comes I feel bad that I haven’t returned his email earlier. Then at 3am I turn over and say to Claudia, “I didn’t return that email”. She says “Urgh…ushghsh…emmmm” which was not the answer I was looking for. Then I don’t sleep as much. Then I feel guilty. That takes away about 10% of my intelligence right there.

7)      Worst Case Scenario. Lets say I lose $1000 in the stock market once day. Sometimes I think to myself, “holy shit, if I lose that amount every day for the next….” And it gets worse and worse. My worst case scenarios has my children begging for food on the harsh streets of Bangalore. I’ve spent at least a year of my life, when you add it up, thinking of the worst case scenario. Even though the worst case scenario HAS NEVER HAPPENED. Or if it does happen, it was never as bad as I thought it would be.  I have a scarcity complex. If I didn’t have that then I’d have an “abundance complex”. And I firmly believe, abundance follows an abundance complex. So I’m smarter (and wealthier) when I give up that scarcity complex.

8)      Talking. Claudia wanted to say something important to me. But I spoke instead. I imparted my great wisdom on her before she could get a word out. Finally, she forgot what she was going to say. Probably because my words were so wise they were like the Bible. Or like Robert’s Rules of Order. Or Strunk & White. That’s how wise I am. STRUNK AND WHITE! Extra talking probably takes away at least 15% of my intelligence. Because I could’ve been listening and learning. Or reading about grammar.  Or not getting into an accident when talking on the phone. Sometimes we just have to Shut Up!

9)      Excuses. Everyone says, “I can’t.”  I can’t be a medical professional unless I go to medical school. I can’t be a movie maker unless I raise $10 million to make a movie. I can’t marry a super model because I’m ugly. I can’t I can’t I can’t. For every “can’t “ you should send me $10. I can do all those things. Particularly if I have your $10.

Ugh, 9 things. I can’t even make this a “ten lister”  as we pros call them in the blog biz. Can someone come up with a tenth for me please?

By the way, just notice when these things come up. It’s not like you’re going to get cured of paranoia. But notice when it appears.  Water withers the rock away. Every time you notice, the window clears a tiny bit. A smudge is gone. You get a glimpse of the light outside.

You get a tiny bit smarter. Maybe later you have to look for the deeper emotional reasons for why you feel the way you do. And there are a lot of reasons. Everyone could’ve made fun of your acne in junior high school and now you want to be loved by everyone. (Err, maybe that happened to me) But right now, this second, just don’t get hit by a car when you cross the street.

You can say, “hey, wait a second! All of those things equal up to more than 100%!” Well, what can I say? You’re smarter than me.




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  • Heiditwit

    All you need is this post, and know how to trade forex, and you are set for life. That’s what I’m telling my kids.

    • Guest

      How do you trade forex?

  • Capitalistic

    Nice one. I suffer from entrepreneurs paranoia. My professor said to me, “Overthinking is a good way to self destruct.”

    • James Altucher

      I see it all the time. People have a good idea and before they can move they second-guess themselves to death and suddenly it will  cost them a million to solve all their initial worries. And then its game over. You have to plunge head first into an idea. 

      • Capitalistic

        You’re right – I’ve had to learn it the hard way…

  • Nick Pannuto

    10. Not having enough fun. We learn by playing, like all animals.

    • James Altucher

      Very true. I’m going to add to that in a post. I think “playing” or any procrastinating, actually increases intelligence 

      • Spencer, a.k.a the Urban Monk

        It is a good one.  We all procrastinate.  Check out my article on 3 steps to Stop Procrastination with Buddhist Mindfulness and 10 things about procrastination at

        • esjabe

          I was going to reply to this, but I’ll do it later…

      • Rebecca Rachmany

        Oh, definitely write that post. I’ll print it up and stick it next to my computer and show it to all my business associates when they catch me putzing around instead of doing the work I promised me.

  • Janet


  • karen parmelee

    Wow James! You always make self-imposed complications seem easy to eradicate! Me and my brain – we’ve been trying to work things out for the better half of my life. I’m finally emerging as the valor and rely on its ability to toss up the unexpected. “What crevice in my mind has asked for this light?” I wrote, in response to a random memory that once appeared. I marvel at it now, more than grumble over its weakness. Rather, how it weakens me, in all the ways you’ve pointed out. Thank you, for the swiffer swipe across the soul!

  • Erica

    The tenth one is envy. Comparing yourself to others.

    • James Altucher

      Yes, that one definitely decreases my intelligence (and my net worth) quite a bit. 

    • Kav Latiolais

      good catch. I hear that one a lot.

  • Robnonstop

    Now there’s a machine for that, haven’t tried it yet: How electrical Brain Stimulation can change the way we think

  • detroit dewd…

    want yr brain to work better???
    10. hydrate.
    11. eat real food.
    12. exercise body & brain
    13. get enough sleep.
    14. take a vacation from thinking. about anything. even ten minutes works wonders. 

    • Inx

      Want your brain to work better?

      1. Learn how to spell.2. More punctuation does not mean the sentence is more important.
      3. Capitalize the first letter of every sentence. Even ones that don’t get their own list number.

      • Nameticket

        You obviously didn’t see #8 in James’ article.  Shut your mouth, hear what people say and learn something instead of always trying to interject with your stupid ass comments.  Everything detroit dewd said was spot on, invaluable information.  You wouldn’t know that though…

      • Karen

        Your comment made me feel good. I am a professional editor and I did not see the problems you point out. It makes me feel good that I can shut off distractions in text when I am interested in the message, even if it is my job to find those distractions Monday through Friday. Maybe it shows that I am making progress in my perfectionist issues and in my need to control everything. I hope so!

  • Vern

    Impatience is a good candidate for number 10

    It probably means that you have already experienced 4, 5, 6 and maybe a few more. Now you lost 90 percent of intelligence

    • Topdown93

       have to agree. most of the bad things that have happened in my life are a result of impatience or alcohol. gave up drinking now working on patience.

      • James Altucher

        There’s a great scene in Star Wars the Phantom Menace where Liam Neeson is fighting Darth Maul and then a door closes between them. Darth Maul is very impatient and walking back and forth, using all his energy while he waits for the door to open. Liam Neeson sits down and meditates and then jumps to action as soon as the door opens.

        I love that example. Sadly, it would be an even better expample except for the fact that Darth Maul ends up killing Neeson in that fight. 

        • Darrin S

           That fight scene was the reason I went to see the Phantom Menace at the theater recently (I didn’t go when it came out the first time). 

  • Brian Marsh

    Hmmm…you know, a sincere and effective belief in God would solve most (maybe all) of these. When *we* try and become our own God, it creates a lot of problems. Not preaching – just saying.

    • James Altucher

      I think surrender to “anything” solves a lot of these problems. You can’t control everything/anything but often a sincer surrender that just says “I can’t do you this: YOU do it” will solve things. Even without acknowledging who or what “YOU” is: subconscious, super conscious, God, gods, angels, the black hole at the center of the galaxy, whatever you want. 

      • Brian Marsh

        True. As long as you trust your “god.”  Now that I think of it…this is kind of an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) 12 steps thing isn’t it?  

        Although, you should be sure your “god” is trustworthy!  I mean, if you put your faith in donuts (surrender to them) it might cause you to have less anxiety, but also gain more weight.

  • Priscilla P. Wood

    Perfectionism gets me. I started blogging about a month ago and every time I’m done writing a post the shame cycle starts: this is not good, I’m not good, this sucks, etc, then I edit it about ten thousand times and more worries -still not good, after that I tell myself I’ll write something better tomorrow, and then the same cycle repeats.

    Fear of not being perfect and even worse of showing my imperfections, it kills me and it’s exhausting. Also, low self-esteem, I’m never good enough or I guess I’m just not good. The result is that I have published only 2 posts even though I now have 51 posts in my draft folder.

    Good to know I’m not the only one dealing with this crap.

  • Krh121791

    You bring up some great points. I often feel leaving out such unimportant thoughts allows for better processing. Where do you get your percents though?

  • rollingdancefloor

    Praise God this traffic, thank you for my circumstances, thank you for discernment and it’s byproduct, productive paranoia. Thank you Jesus. Postscript: What’s great about Texas hold ‘um is that you can go all in.

  • Todd_Andelin

    10. Ignorance. 
    Maybe part of this is a lack of self awareness.  I wish someone would have helped me explain my personality to me when I was 15 or 16.  Life could have been much more productive had I know what kind of brain configuration I had.  Took a lot longer to figure it out, but now after going through highs and lows for years, I know how to trust my own judgments better and better.  This has lead to some confidence.11. Convention.  I cant think that way because everyone else is doing things another (better)way.  Convention is a great factory for all kinds of excuses.12. Someone-else.  Someone else is already thinking or doing things the right way, the world does not need me.”Someone in a better office, making more money is an expert and Im not, so I will not even try”13. Blinded by money.Money is a value system.  But there are other things in life besides money.  I see people who are so blinded on a payout or some scheme which involves money as the single biggest reward, or the single most important input into their brain and life, that they are literally blinded and cannot see anything else around them.  Furthermore, if you are someone who is intelligent and insightful,but show no outward possession of wealth, guess what?  Most people don’t give a damn what you say because they perceive you as being unsuccessful, therefore you are totally irrelevant in their world.  Maybe it all comes down to desires. Desires-> Thoughts-> Actions->Behavior->Character

  • VB

    Overeating, almost every time I stuff myself I end up feeling sorry and definitely stupid. 

  • GK

    Goddammn it  !!! Great blog post dude.  You are nailing it everytime.  Keep up good work.

  • Robin Heinen

    I recognize a lot of these points, and I think you missed an important one. I would place it on number 1) since, without it, you will lose 90% of your intelligence.

    10) Low Self Esteem
    Even though the only person in the world who has ALWAYS been there, that person often is the person you believe in the least. You always managed to get things done. You quite often succeeded at things. You also made mistakes (Thank God for that, how would we be learning otherwise?? You NEED mistakes to get even better!). Why on earth do we keep spending time asking ourselves: “Are you good enough for this job?”, or “Will this girl like me enough to date me?”. “Won’t they laugh at my ideas?”. NO!! These thoughts are draining your intelligence more than any, ANY other. If your ideas would suck, they probably wouldn’t have invited you to come and talk about it! YOU rule your world! So better start believing in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, others will less likely believe in you. You are good enough! You are even better!! Remember, you are Superman. 

    On my own blog I write about my experiences, how I deal with anxiety, what makes me laugh. I hope it works for others as well. 

  • Dom Cobb

    But what if they are talking about you?  Paranoia (at reasonable levels) is a rational response in an evolutionary Universe: your Wife is biologically predesposed to be able to drop you for a better bet in an instant if you fail to provide in any way; your team all want your job, the mailman wants your house. Your friends do covet your Wife.  Leave a wallet behind in a bar and odds on it won’t be handed in.  Thousands of guys are bringing up kids that aren’t theirs. There is a saber-toothed tiger waiting behind every rock….! I think we’re designed that way to an extent.  “Only the paranoid survive”.  

    • wordup

       A little paranoia is a healthy thing. Sorry to hear about your avaricious wife, colleagues and mailman.

      I live in a big city and have returned found items and had them returned to me. The guys I know who are raising kids that aren’t theirs are a dupe in some way and had no other options for a partner. I’m sure there are true love scenarios but rare. These situations are transactional for the most part so the poor fellow probably has good cause for his paranoia.

      • Dom Cobb

        Not my Wife, just going by the divorce stats! :)  

        • wordup

           Glad to hear it ;)

          Most women aren’t gold diggers in my experience. The ones that are usually dumb or damaged (or Eastern European).

    • Ecm-g

      Don’t you mean (to get out of this loop), “So what if they are talking about you?”

      • Dom Cobb

        Sure. And agree with James’ thoughts on this blog. Great stuff. 

  • 736hundred

    #10: intolerance 

    • Nearmagic

       # 10 at least high upon list … learn to deal with your own snot without a pharmaceutical

      doctor .. or pharmaceuticals.

  • Berislav Lopac

    Point #2 has the perfect timing for me. But what to do when others resent you, even though you don’t resent them (any more at least)? How to reconciliate?

    • James Altucher

      You don’t reconciliate. It’s really not your problem at all. You have better things to do in life. It’s their problem. 

      • Berislav Lopac

        Thank you for the response. However, I see that I wasn’t very clear in my question — there is a single person who is very dear to me (as a friend), but who resents me. I would like to try to continue the relationship, even in a diminished form, but the other side shows no interest. Is your advice to simply let them go? Or should I persist? Thanks!

  • Lostbeagles

    10. Hangover (surely?)

  • jessseeker

    I’m stupid too! We have so much in common! Did you also staple your own thumb once because your brother dared you to?

  • CF

     “To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” Lao Tzu

  • Dfoltztfha

    Thanks for the tips and the laughs! Really enjoyed this

  • Adam

    Absolutely agreed on envy as the tenth one, as was pointed out earlier. I spent a lot of time in a funk last year because I watched others begin to find success in a desired career/relationship path as I felt like I was standing still, or even pedaling backwards. It’s still a little bit of a habit of mine, but as you say, the water is wearing away at the rock.

    Frankly I could relate to each point out of personal experience, but overcoming “shame” has been one of the biggest successes for me lately. I’m generally very introverted but began work as a songwriter. I wear my heart on my sleeve when I write so overcoming shame of sharing personal details/experience has been a hurdle to get over that has ultimately felt quite liberating.

  • Nichole

    FEAR. That’s a pretty good one. Fear saps about 80% of my intelligence. I have about 20% left to walk, and other basic motor skills. 

    • James Altucher

       Fear is a big one, Nichole, and all the things underneath that umbreall: fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of humiliation, etc. That certainly takes away from my intelligence when I let it grab hold.

  • jojo

    These are hilarious and completely on point!

    I’m probably still just an immature crazy girl but my absolute stongest motivation usually still is ‘I’ll Show You” syndrome and I’m shameless about it.  I will work like a crazy mad horse just to have a moment where I can show off something other people though was not possible.

    Tell me I’m wrong, dare me, tell me why I’m wrong… I’ll come back in beast mode.  Some of my best stuff came out of anger.

  • Feng

    Man, I feel like an idiot everyday. Somehow my brain is automatic when it comes to wasting time dwell on negatives. It’s a mental disease that’s deeply rooted in my DNAs.

    We are really not that far from monkeys when it comes to being not mindful about our thoughts and actions.

    Everyday I practice being mindful and letting go. It’s difficult, but I am slooooooowly getting better at it.

    I already feel smarter just by acknowledging the difficulties.

  • Jesse Farrell

    Qui-Gon mediated and realized it was his time to be killed so Obi-Wan could ascend. That’s why he “lost” the fight: he let go because it was time.

    • James Altucher

      Fascinating! I didn’t think of that. 

      • Eric

        Just as Obi-wan let Vader kill him so Luke could ascend.

  • Zlatko Turkalj

    10.  Anger.
    Great post James, thnx! As we all live in a world of smart asses, stupidity is a such transcendent feeling :-)

  • Edgardo Mejía

    Umm.. I guess this 9 points remind me two words… “Hakunah Matata” …  .. hahahaha

  • Alexandra Leh

    “…smarter than I.” 

    • James Altucher


  • Progressively Defensive

    Good post, sir.

  • Omar

    Thank you 

  • Mark Carson

    Free yourself from practicing the bad “isms”


    There are plenty of good “isms” to replace the bad with.

    Feel free to add to this list…

    • Brent Cahill

      I completely agree with the Cynicism. I don’t think many people understand how destructive cynicism his nor the difference between cynicism and critical thinking / analysis.

  • Aby Pathak

    10. The assumption that “I have more brain and less money (read happiness) than others…”

    • Heiditwit

      I’d go with that #10 – envy. Envy can take a person to a big house in the suburbs, staying at a job they hate just to support the house, next door to neighbors who care more about their lawn than other people. Sometimes possessions create stupid.

  • Simon

    How about can’t “stop liking this crap you write’, Altucher!”

  • Seeker

    Absolutely awesome post! Really compelling!

  • @fearless_kingmo

    I’ve got your 10th for you! Its Fear…fear I believe is one of the strongest motivators people use that they shouldn’t. It eliminates options and definitely impacts your intelligence. Fear clouds your mind and instead of thinking of how to get what you want, you think of what happens if you don’t, or even worse if you do.

    • Jesse Petersen

       I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death
      that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to
      pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the
      inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be
      nothing. Only I will remain.

      • Maikvu

        F: False
        E: Evidence
        A: Appearing
        R: Real

  • Rebecca Rachmany

    The 10th one is not taking care of your health. You have told us to get enough sleep and exercise regularly. If I don’t get enough sleep for more than 4 days, I lose 30% of my intelligence. If I don’t exercise for a week or two, I get most of those other 9 symptoms you listed.

  • Jackie Hirtz

    Brilliant, that James Altucher. Just brilliant.

  • martin higgins

    Thanks  for this. really hit home during a tough time in my life. Its one thing to be aware of all these inhibiting emotions but how do you genuinely overcome them?

  • acchapello

    James – my favorite post you’ve ever done. The end is the most important, the awareness to learn just a little bit every time.

  • MovingTerrain

    I feel smarter already.  Bitterness could be 10 – bitter guilt, bitter resentment, bitterness in all things is it’s own revenge.

  • noeld

    #10 Obsessing.  As in, stop obsessing over a bad hair day. Bad day in traffic. Weather.  I lose many %%%s over this.  Especially traffic. 

  • Bigdaddypillows
    • Bigdaddypillows

      … Great article BTW thanks :) 

  • Chris Nelson

    The 10th thing.

    This is an unusual thing for me to say, but I would say “Have faith”.  Unusual for me to say, because I’m an agnostic / atheist.  I don’t believe in a lot of things, but I have faith that the sun will rise (okay, okay, “that the planet will continue to revolve”), that the rain will clear (or resume), that there will be something useful I can do today, etc.  I have faith that the people who seem to be my friends really are, at least for the most part, and so on.  The rest of this list just proves your genius (it takes one to know one, right?), especially in soliciting ways to fill it out.


    • Aj

       Seems that in the US (maybe elsewhere?) that many people seem to confuse having faith with having faith in God.  You could even go a step further (if you are open-minded enough ;-)) and say that too many religious people have confused the spiritual concept of faith with the religious concept of faith in God…  I’m not quite sure how to define faith but think it has something to do with an optimism that something bigger than you (God, the universe, the spirits) is supporting you – or even if it isn’t, that optimism is still justified. ;-)

  • Ashleigh

    I read this a few days ago and it has really really stuck with me!  I (like most others) suffer from most of the things on the list; paranoia, resentment, guilt, perfectionism and regret.  It took your post to make me see how this affects my intelligence so severely!  Now, when I catch those feelings creeping up, I remind myself how ‘stupid’ they’re making me!  Thanks for an excellent post :)

  • Dulst

    The tenth one could be watching TV.

    • Claudia Scherzinger CoachingEx

      absolutly – makes people dumb. i would add mass media… 

  • Claudia Scherzinger CoachingEx

    by the way (as you mentioned before…): one way to avoid stupidy is spending as less time as possible in school. humans are born bursting full of desire to learn. humas learn naturally through following their curiosity – and that skill is killed by school. alternatives: the new class of unschooling, see:

    • Claudia Scherzinger CoachingEx

      naturally we loooove  to learn and to think (i´m speaking about true, free, critical and constructive thinking – not about the kind of thinking we learn in school) – this learning is connected to pleasure, teacher/rolemodels we love and admire and physical movement. we could use our intelligence for the good of mankind… which side will win: the dark forces or the light?

  • Nancy Oli

    I just love your writing!

  • Charles Frank

    Great article.

  • Adveritas

    Number 6, CONTROL.  Good one!!  As a spiritual mentor of mine pointed out….sitting at a stop light, “If you ain’t happy on this side of the light, you’re not gonna be any happier on the other side.”

  • neutrino

    The tenth one for me is anger. Particularly the rage kind. I’d say it costs 75-90% in intelligence.  Fortunately it’s usually short-lived.

  • RisenGenius

    James, you ought to stop smoking the funny Mexican cigarettes, too.

  • Ken

    Number 10:  Don’t waste time reading frivolous blogs (yours excepted, of course!)

  • Agnostic Trader

    Very intelligent analysis of stupidity.

  • ally

    So much I want to say but will remain silent…

  • Cherubae99

    Hahahahaha! Every time I read your articles, I find examples of yoga philosophy. Love it!

  • Doc Dougherty

    Thanks for this. From your fan club in Baja.

  • Odysseus

    What about ‘Obsession’ for the 10th item?

  • whippoorwill

    I worry about getting run over by a pantyhose truck. It’s not worth worrying about, but my supervisor put the thought in my head and now that’s what I’m worried about. Nothing worse than getting squashed by a pantyhose truck. And those things aren’t even that big…about the size of an ice cream man truck. You know those. Uh oh. Now I’m worrying about getting run over by an ice cream truck. CRAP.

  • Dani Long N.

    10) Envy. It fits the pattern, because of how it creeps up on you but ends up consuming you.

    Anger, fear… These are underlying base emotions driving us to be paranoid, controlling, not listening, etc. So, envy really fits the bill for #10 instead.

    And then, the corollary to the whole blog is definitely Play More and Play More Often. The 1-10 of this blog not only make you stupider (soooooo true), they will destroy your heart, figuratively and literally. Best way to counteract it all is to play a lot, find ways to laugh and giggle and have a good time.

    Paper airplanes… Have you seen the micro paper airplanes you can fold? Sweet.

    Play, and think about bacon….. And good beer… And snap peas. And Monet and Georgia O’Keefe and Bach on Sunday mornings while sipping coffee… and getting a nice bike… Or scooter… Or playing cribbage… Or plotting the best practical joke ever on your friend/mate… Or fishing. Fishing is THE BEST f*ck-off activity ever.

    Hmmm… White bass are starting to run on the Wolf River, now that I think about it and my old boat’s ready to go… See y’all later!

  • Citizen49a

    I take back what I said recently.  You’re not an idiot, at least not a complete, continuous, committed and willful idiot.  You’re just confused.  Stop worrying about yourself. Pray for your enemies.Look at the people you envy. You really want to be like them? Pray for them too. Look at the people that annoy you.  They need your compassion. Pray for them. If this sounds stupid or idiotically religious then forget never mind.

  • RTRebel

    Dishonesty is another way that increases stupidity. Clearing out the lies someone tells themself and to others can almost certainly make themself a little less stupid.

  • toscanoooo

    Wowww:) stupiddd:) great article;)

  • Simonrow

    10) Arrogance, unjustified self satisfaction

  • Brian Boughner

    Excellent Post Mr. Altucher!  I have needlessly wasted so much mental energy on these 9 things.  Thank you for this blog and for all you do.

  • Ash

    I make a lot of plans but I end up executing nothing.

  • rajkotecha

    You did come up with 10 :) Scarcity should have a spot all to its glorious self

  • Pete R.

    I guess it all comes down to controlling ourselves. Control ourselves to listen more, control ourselves to be less paranoia, control ourselves not to regret etc.

    As the saying goes: “If you can’t control yourself, you can’t control anyone”

    Great article as always.

  • TheResurrectedTrader

    Time Travelling Experiments : I lost a million or 2 dollars 3 years ago from a toxic combination of trading , inventing , starting businesses and trusting people, drugs , taking things for granted – just to name a few reasons…. For 3 years I have hated myself and spiralled into darkness – all the time praying/wishing/hoping/wanting to go back in time so i can have my life back. Trying to time travel has used 98% of my intelligence.

  • David Allan

    I can relate, I’ve done every one of those things. Erica hit it right on. Envy.

  • Lara

    Damn that was a great article! Useful for my own self-reflection and it made me laugh, too! (Only a man would say, think about something important, like how good bacon is! such a guy thing!) Thanks for the post, James. I think I got a little bit smarter reading it, but maybe only like 8%…lol!

  • rep

    Conforming makes you dumb – you start accepting the default option without considering what it means.
    I remember in 3th grade the whole class swallowed the math teachers error “Adjacent sides of a parallelogram sum to 180 degrees : False” – I almost was in tears trying to refute that. Next day teacher admitted the error and I got that whole shot of social approval dopamine that kept me grinning for days.

  • Dragos Salageanu

    The tenth is being in love.

  • Stephane Beladaci

    I wonder how many readers realize acknowledging being stupid at5 the time they click that title :D

  • Occams_Razor

    There are two kinds of guilt or shame. The first one gets all the press: when you have violated other people’s rules, values or expectations. The guilt is a fear of punishment, or, since you’re an adult and no one can punish you if you’re not in prison or the military, fear of retaliation. A co-worker can retaliate against you.
    (And if you are the bitchy broad retaliating against someone you don’t like because of your hatred and jealousy, then hey, I’m lookin’ at YOU!)

    The other kind is when you violate your own values. Some people don’t have much in the way of values, but if you feel guilt because you know you were dishonest or hurtful or manipulative or did harm, and you have enough value that you don’t believe in doing that, then that guilt is real.

    Nothing for it but to change your behavior to be in line with your values. Unless you want to stop having values and be a sociopath. Or you can blame the person who pointed it out or “made you do it”, but that’s pretty much being a sociopath.

    The point: real guilt is real values, letting you know what you want to change.

  • leslie

    Number 10? Being right. People just LOOOOVE to be right. oh, wait, that’s me… and pretty much everyone else.

  • Haider Abbass

    I am stupid… I do even the stupidest things which people don’t do…
    I’m ashamed of myself… >:<