27 Ways to Harm Someone


I wanted to pull out his eye while he screamed. Then I would see straight through into the brain that did this to me. I walked over to his house in Brooklyn. He had lied about me, distorted the truth, wrote about me in a major public forum, got others writing lies about me. I was angry. I had thought he was a friend.

I knocked on the door. He opened it. I then took a glass bottle I happened to have on me and smashed it over his head. He fell to the floor and was bleeding from all over his face, his glasses broken, one of his eyes maybe gashed too deep. “What the f***?!” I then kicked his head. Flattened his nose. And I left and walked away. In my dream about it I think I had an erection.

The brain is the worst tyrant. I imagined the above scene in my head the day he wrote about me. And a year later, today, I imagined it again. It’s hard to be a pacifist sometimes. Sometimes I think I’m mentally ill.

Anger (external or internal) can raise your heart rate in seconds to 180 beats a minute from 120. It can raise your blood pressure from 120 over 80 to 220 over 130. Over 400,000 deaths a year are attributed to sudden anger. Your brain kicks into survival mode. Chemicals get unleashed that clot your blood, causing heart damage or strokes. Acids get released into the stomach, causing ulcers. It’s all bad.

I want to be happy and healthy. A vow of pacifism is hard to stick with. But it’s worth doing. An outer renunciation of violence as well as an inner renunciation. You have to do both. A perfect example of not “practice makes perfect” because I never will be. But eventually practice will make permanent.

Someone asked in my Twitter Q&A if they should be a “physical pacifist” as well as a “verbal one”.

You must commit to being a pacifist in EVERY WAY else it’s false pacifism. There’s 27 kinds of pacifism and to be the happiest you can possibly be you must engage in all of them. I would say most people do a few of these but that’s not good enough. That’s a false commitment. One must practice and get better until one is doing all 27.


There’s thinking, speaking, acting. Don’t think bad thoughts of someone (because those thoughts can be better and more productively used). Don’t speak badly about someone or to someone (has gossip ever helped you in life?), and don’t hurt someone physically (you will  only hurt yourself in the end and your lifespan will be one day less so was it worth it?) That’s three ways.


For each of those ways there’s: before, during, and after. There’s before the action (when the anger builds up, which is a hot iron burning straight through all your neurons and synapses, speeding up the onslaught of dementia and polarism), there’s during the action (where all anger is unleashed and only chaos is the result), and there’s after the action (the regrets, the guilt, the shame, the consequences).


And for all of those, there’s YOU as the actor. Or there’s you getting SOMEONE ELSE to be the actor. Or there’s you simple APPROVING something harmful happening to another person. This might be the most insidious because it seems the safest.

3x3x3 is 27 ways of harming someone. Everytime you harm someone you postpone for yourself happiness, knowledge, and blissfulness. Why would you want to postpone that. I can be happy right now or I can be happy at 2pm tomorrow. I choose NOW!

So what do you do? When you feel any of these 27 coming along you…PRACTICE: stop yourself and say “not useful”. For instance, if you hear two people gossiping negatively about someone, you think “this isn’t going to be useful to my ultimate happiness and success” which is all I care about. I don’t care about the other person or the two people. Just my success and happiness. I don’t want to postpone it!

Several steps:

– acknowledge that the above are the 27 ways you become a non-pacifist, i.e. the 27 ways you harm someone and yourself.

– acknowledge that it takes practice to recognize when this anger is starting to light up in your brain. Don’t blame yourself if you slip. Then you are HARMING YOURSELF. That’s even worse. Then you’ve double-harmed! The other person AND yourself. It takes time. Look at me! I just smashed someone with a glass bottle over the head about ten minutes ago. And that’s over an action he did over a year ago. It’s hard. But just be aware.

– label the thought or speech or action, “not useful”. That’s it. That’s the only trick.

– cultivate the opposite thought.This doesn’t mean cultivate love to someone you hate. I really do think some people are crappy people. It’s too hard to love them the second after I hate them. I can’t do it. The opposite of hate is ignore. Just ignore them. 

(Wonder Woman was a pacifist)

The question about pacifism is a good one because it’s the key to all success and happiness. Financial success, health, relationship success, and emotional calm. Very few people can do it. Take the vow of pacifism.

Why choose otherwise?

You will be happier and it will be a simmering happiness that will last. Not the burst of adrenaline you might get with a glass bottle over someone’s head.

I want to die in music and not in the delirium of anger I see in so many people.

[thanks to @bkharnish for asking this during my Thursday Q&A:  “pacifism. what do you think? i’m a verbal pacifist. i don’t like word arguments. but physically, i don’t know.”]

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  • Zardoz123

    I hope you keep writing often and for a very long long time James Altucher. Regards, Jorge in Miami

  • BrianSWFC

    Good post James – but what do you propose is an appropriate response to someone who has harmed you? If you ignored the behavior of your friend who lied about you in a public forum aren’t you acting like a doormat? Of course physical violence is not an option but shouldn’t you fight back or challenge the attack?

    • ClaudiaYoga

      Most news dies after the 24 hour cycle. No reason to defend if it’s dead in 24 hours.

      • Valerie

        I think a friend would never do something that blatant to hurt you. If he were a friend, he would take up his issue with you directly, not in a public forum, where he thinks he could shame or humiliate you into his position. Responding in any way just flames the embers of his lie. Best you can do is walk away, cross him off your friend list, but also find a way to forgive him for his act. Forgiving people isn’t about making what they did right – it’s about letting go of what they did so it doesn’t exist in your space and continue to hurt you.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          I agree that forgiveness is one way of ignoring the threat so anger doesn’t build up. BUT, sometimes forgiveness is hard. it involves a little bit of putting oneself in another’s shoes. Depending on the situation, that might be too hard whereas just ignoring the threat might be best. 

          • Valerie

            I find it especially hard to do, especially with family. I have a certain family member who consistently accuses me of wrong doing and being selfish, and it is unfounded most of the time. It  used to feel so hurtful and would take mental acrobatics to forgive her each time. And then I realized that all the things that bothered me about her were the things that I don’t like in myself. So it wasn’t so bad. I understand much better my previous anger with her. I now don’t get rattled nearly as much when she starts with her antics and the ignore button has gotten lots of use. But for me, I couldn’t just ignore without understanding and forgiving first.

          • Jeffrey

            James, I sit here trying to remember if you’ve made a post on Forgiveness … what it means, why to do it, how to do it, etc. For me also, it’s difficult. It’s similar to what Brian asked, aren’t you being a doormat if you just let it slide? Removing yourself from any toxic situation is always best, like you say. Crossing off people who have done you harm is essential also.

            But to passively ignore them if you don’t know how to forgive is extremely difficult. The damaging thoughts of their actions just don’t go away without thoughts of retaliation. Doing the pushup exercise mentioned before helps. But to forgive and let go is an entirely different batch of cookie-dough.

  • http://www.parmcharm.com karen parmelee

    You make good points, inarguable, when you break it down like you have. Still, especially in therapy, breaking down the finer points of “why I’m so angry at Person X” has benefit. I find it does, anyway. Either my frustration with Person X loses charge, Person X reveals faults of my own, and/or I can at least experience further experience as meant to be, not colored by previous experience with lasting impression of Person X. There is value in that for me. Rather than “gossip”, which is cheap and childish, talking things out, with someone related or unrelated to the events, it has value & meaning. I love everything you write; always have.

    • ClaudiaYoga

      Yes, I think “talk therapy” has its place and its a safe place where you can talk about the person without anger clouding the issue because the therapist can help you control that. The “vow” described above is when you are in the moment, right then, about to feel, think, say, do, anger that it’s most helpful just to ignore until you are in a safer environment. Like, perhaps, the therapist’s office. 
       -James using Claudia;s acct for some reason I cant figure out

  • http://www.parmcharm.com karen parmelee

     James recently advised me on same subj. (Twitter Q&A) He said that removing person from your life, as much as possible, will diminish your reaction to them and their ability to have an impact on you.

  • http://www.parmcharm.com karen parmelee

    REPLY link not working for me. I’ll  blame IOS new apple for that. @953e6c29858ae5730ff3d254e5661754:disqus  My reply to you is below: 

  • Andrew_Ferri

    This is awesome James.  I will reread and reread again, just like some of your other more legendary posts (How to Deal with Crappy People). Thanks bro!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks Andrew. Its funny you mention the Crappy People post because this is almost a fine-tuned way on how to deal with the Crappy People (since they are the ones we most want to hard most of the time)

  • http://planetoplano.blogspot.com/ Leonardo

    I’m afraid I cannot call myself a pacifist.
    The vow to non-violence cannot be unilateral.
    Even if you don’t want to defend yourself, (and I think you should), you have the duty to defend your children, for example; and, other people’s children too, for that matter.
    What would you do if you saw a grown man beating a child, or a woman, (or another man).
    What do you do, when you’re confronted with an announced or an on-going genocide? 
    When you save a life, you save the entire world. 
    But if you don’t save a life, because of a vow to pacifism, it’s like you were killing everyone.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think always the best strategy is to move away from the situation. If someone cuts off your car, for instance on the highway, its usually not a good strategy to cut off your car. If someone hits my kid – my best strategy is to remove my kids from the situation. In only extreme cases (and it’s never happened to me since I was an adult) is any sort of “defense” needed. 

      Similarly, with genocide, we do enough killing as is as a country. Time to take a break from that and see if the rest of the world follows. our old technique hasn’t worked so well.

      • http://theghettolibertarian.com/ The Ghetto Libertarian

        unfortunately you can’t always move away from the situation. i.e. home invasion. It seems to me that your non-agressionist. Pacifism is more rolling over and playing dead no matter what the situation. I think you’d agree that sometimes self defense is mandatory.

        • http://twitter.com/scrobTV SCROB TV

           I agree with TGL, non-agressionism sounds more like what you mean James. Pacifism is a fundamental attitude. I’ve seen a guy getting beat up and laughing at his opponent for being so primitive. It was a way to demonstrate his own superiority, instead of running away. It’s a form of warfare/fighting.

          You on the other hand recommend ignoring/avoiding which I find more useful for the general population that isn’t on a messiah mission to school mankind. A perfect illustration of your maxim are the 3 wise  monkeys who don’t see, hear or speak evil, often misinterpreted as cowards in the Western World.

          When you watch the best documentary ever, Hotel Terminus, you see a grown woman who was abducted by the Nazis and thrown into a death camp as a kid, confronting her neighbor – who did nothing for her at the time while another neighbor opened her door and tried to keep the Nazis out. It’s a very powerful scene and shows that ignoring and doing nothing on a person-to-person basis isn’t always the best option. But one must keep the focus on protecting the victim and not on punishing the aggressor. That is the most difficult part.

          25% of men die before they’re 18 in tribal societies. There’s always a good reason to beat someone to death over.

      • David C.

         This post is great insight into normal life. Our basic behavior set works best if we both reduce our anger and properly manage those who we anger (ever raised a teenager?).

        It is folly, however, to lump response to a bully or a “crappy person” with response to a violent crime. Jeffrey Snyder’s “A Nation of Cowards” provides a very clear exposition of both a Christian understanding of self-defense and of the practical need for the non-violent to maintain the ability to resist a violent attack. I think anyone espousing true pacifism must provide a reasoned counterpoint to Snyder’s analysis.

        Taken to extreme, James, your comment suggests that you would turn your back on the celebrated case of Kitty Genovese (yes, the story was not the narrative), and I don’t imagine you meant that.

        As I note elsewhere, weakness definitely invites predatory behavior in the small subset of people so prone. Taoism seems like a great approach to the problem of politics, and when a society trips into a spasm of collective murderous insanity there’s naught to do but Be Elsewhere for the Duration. If your society’s social mood is so dark that Full Totalitarianism results, to stay and attempt to persuade is to invite the fate of The White Rose.

        Crime strikes me as a different question, however. If someone chooses violence to take from you something you cannot recover (e.g., your life), it is both wise and socially beneficial to let him suicide on your bullets. “Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep
        this in mind, it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you
        can kill him without hate–and quickly.”

        Just my humble opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1567127659 Mary McNamara

    When I was really little, I took the “peace be with you” part of Catholic mass super-literally, and would mentally give everyone I shook hands with a “piece of my peace” :-D I would actually visualize peace flowing from me to them. 
    I have found that this is a way I can relate to others that I may be having negative feelings about. Whenever they enter my mind, I say “peace be with me and you” and let them go. I always give what I want – I definitely want peace between us, whether I “like” them or not, so I give it gladly. My father always insisted that we never use the word “hate” and that we never “hate” anyone. I didn’t understand until I “hated” – then I realized why. The “hate” didn’t hurt THEM, it hurt ME. I love myself way to much to hurt me, and I find I can love them too. 

    My fav quote (I posted it before) is: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” – Isaac Asimov. I do my best to live up to it, in thought, word and deed, and I’m a much better person for it. I believe the world is much better for every bit of peace we can each find in ourselves and share with others also :-)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great quote. And I like your affirmation. 

      More on Asimov: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/11/5-unusual-things-i-learned-from-isaac-asimov/ 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1567127659 Mary McNamara

        Thanks, glad you like it – it’s helped me out a lot. Your posts have helped me out a whole lot lately also (I just discovered your blog recently), and I owe you a huge THANK YOU :-) 

        Too cool on the Asimov post – I hadn’t gotten that far back yet – awesome post! :-) I usually know I’ve found a kindred spirit if I mention Asimov, psychohistory or Hari Seldon, and someone lights up :-)

    • Jeffrey

      That really IS an awesome quote. I’ve always been in awe of people who can calmly walk away from offenders of their realm. Over the last several months or so, I’ve been taking James’ advice and minimizing, even eliminating when possible, any interaction with the crappy people in my world. I hope to one day soon reach the level where I can give peace to my adversaries both real and perceived. This seems essential for being able to progress and prosper. Thanks for sharing…

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1567127659 Mary McNamara

        Thanks for the nice response :-) You’ll definitely get there – the desire to do so is itself more than half the “battle” won already! 

        Another fav of mine is “thanks for the warning” :-D I actually really appreciate it when someone makes it clear, right from the get-go, that they’re going to be crappy. That way I get away from them as quickly as possible, and don’t waste any time paying attention to them. I very much appreciate them saving me all that time and effort LOL 

        The most difficult ones for me are family – I’m still working on those myself. Good luck to both of us! :-)

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Mary, that reminds me of dating situations. Whenever I was in a situation where the girl would say, “I’m afraid you’re not going to like me”  then that was usually a good sign that I was going to end up not liking her. I always made it a rule to believe what people told me. 

          And yes, family is the hardest. Its never the neighbor down the street who is a “crappy person”. Always the hardest are the people who know exactly what buttons to push. 

          • http://twitter.com/ArtGow Art Gow

            When people tell you/show you/reveal to you who they are, believe them the first time…

      • Skoth

        I want you to kill me

    • tbarrellier

       Dear Mary,

      Thanks for this supremely wise example of forgiveness. Jesus gave you a big one.

      • kuhiudesigns

        Jesus used violence at the temple.

  • Jeffrey

    I finally began Taekwando lessons a few months ago to protect myself from the bullies, braggarts and bullshitters all around me. At first, my fantasies were rabid, vivid, wild … screw with me one more time, say the wrong thing to me one more time … and I was going to kick every one of their rude and insensitive asses.

    I would go to class each evening after work with a hell fire attitude. Every exercise, every drill, every move was slowly stacking up to transform me into a ‘killer’. I am in my mid-40s and I am finally becoming someone you really don’t want to mess with. Our instructor, of course, is an ass-kicker himself … bad to the bone. And he wears us out to the point of drop-dead exhaustion … 50 push-ups, 100 jumping jacks, 50 round kicks, start running … GO! GO! GO! … he screams with a military yell. Alas, the same hell fire attitude I carried with me into class each night was transformed into a ‘tail between my legs … whew … glad that’s over’ crawl in the course of an hour.

    Still, I go back for more everyday because I still want to be that someone you don’t want to mess with. But slowly, I am learning that Taekwando is teaching me that the real enemy is found in the mirror each morning. The real enemy has an issue with confidence because he doesn’t know it very well (yet). The real enemy will realize one day that all the preparation, training, and execution I am practicing will come to my aid for a much better purpose than decking some idiot who can’t keep his mouth shut. And on that day, hopefully, the real enemy will be my best friend.

    In short, I highly recommend some intense exercise to transform the untamed energy of anger into the long lasting cool of calm. Start with as many real pushups as you can do … until your arms and shoulders feel like butter. Stay off your knees … no matter what! Each pushup you do knocks your adversary down another flight of stairs, for example. Until the last one you do, the one you can barely finish, kicks him out the door for good. And then you do one more … just one more big one … scream and yell if you have to … but get your body off the floor just one more time … to make sure he stays gone for good! Rinse and repeat Daily.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Its funny, when I was moving and having to stop working with the trainer I was working with (and pre-yoga for me) he did say, “for just simple maintenance, just do 50 pushups a day”. Pushups exercise just about every muscle. In yoga also (at least Ashtanga Yoga) there is much emphasis on moves that contain pushups in them (or variations on pushups). And I agree that exercise helps tame the mind so its easier to discipline it to move away in hard situations. 

  • Jeffrey

    And I apologize James for being rude and not thanking you for doing what you do with your blog before going off onto my Taekwando tangent. You are a total inspiration…

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks Jeff. I also appreciate the TaeKwondo tangent. Very interesting.

  • tm

    I’m not sure I understand the original Twitter question.  Is this person against verbal agreements but cool with kicking the shit out of someone, lol?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872958420 Brandon Harnish

      I had just finished reading the Sermon on the Mount and a bunch of other stuff about Christian anarchism. So what I meant was, is pacifism limited to physical violence, or should we also be pacifists when it comes to arguments and things like that?

      Today, just about 50 seconds before I checked James’ blog and realized that he had a whole post trying to answer my question, I posted a status on Facebook about how I’m going to try really hard to completely stop all gossip and all negative comments about others. I put this to the test and I posted another status offering to give a compliment to anyone who likes this status. It’s hard.

      One girl liked it and she’s in the process of divorcing a friend of mine for no reason other than she’s….Not even going to say it :)

      • Lilly

        On Saturday evening I became really angry at someone who is a friend, collaborator, and a gossip-addict.  I’ve asked him repeatedly to stop talking about his housemates, his colleagues, etc. as to me gossip is depressing and the conversation is useless–and he just can’t stop.  On Saturday he was just non-stop and I totally lost it and really chewed him out.  I think, he might stop now…but in any regard I am limiting my face-to-face interaction with him, and I told him so and why.  I just wonder what the best way is to stop a gossip….or if we just can’t.

        • Brandon Harnish

          I think creativity is the key. The Kingdom of God is always upside down. To live as Christ, to become Buddha, requires an apocalyptic in-breaking of something new and unexpected and nearly always at odds with social etiquette. Honesty is important. But the only words that are ever really heard are those that are spoken in love. So, you might ask, “Why is my friend gossiping so much?” Seek understanding before judgment, and then go from there :)

  • DharmikMehta

    Dude u just touch my SOUL

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

    On some level Pacifist = Willing Victim

    Essentially James is arguing that we should become comfortable being victimized.  Learn to accept it, run away from it, and minimize or eliminate your contact with those causing it.

    The trouble with that is two-fold:

    1) Bullies count on your unwillingness to hit back (metaphorically and/or actually).  They seek out the pacifists.  They chase the pacifist as he runs away. Pacifism invites bullying.  Or worse. 

    2) The greatest threat to our well-being is not a bully.  And it is not the psychological aftermath of hitting back.  They greatest threat to our well-being is that which we are repressing.  “Walking away” and “letting it go” are code words for repressing it.

    That “IT” comes out.   You either give the bully a piece of your mind or you go home, self-immolate then smother the flames with ______________.  

    Overeating, shopping, medications, alcohol, self-loathing, television…….

    Running, yoga, meditation, taekwando…. they are all excellent coping tools.  They help us to deal with those things over which we have no control.  But that’s not what we’re talking about here.  Here we have some level of control.  We can fight back. 

    It is no coincidence that those who most ascribe to this pacifist philosophy so frequently end up like this….. 


    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t think anyone should be a victim. BUT, I don’t think people should be a victim to their own anger either. The first arrow is when you get hit by the other person. The second arrow is when you become angry about it, or gossip, or let it effect your productivity, or obsess on it, or react in anger, or whatever. 

      Its very very rare that one has to act in self-defense. If one needs to, then one should protect oneself. But that can be done also without anger. If one needs to react to protect and escape then that’s what one should do that moment. But also avoid the second arrow.

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

        Absolutely, people should not make themselves a victim of their own anger.  But anger is natural.   We evolved with the ability to experience it.  We did so for a purpose.  Anger exists for good reason.

        To entirely deny the feeling is to deny ones natural state.  To avoid it is to avoid the evolutionary reason we have it.   

        Gandhi tried to do that and he produced the quickest mass-slaughter in human history.  On a societal level that partition-violence shows us precisely what occurs inside the individual when anger is bottled.  The Dalai Lama continues to promulgate the philosophy but he does so from a capital-in-exile. 

        That’s not to say we should just give ourselves over to every emotional whim.  We have a say in how we experience and use our anger.  But if we always refuse retaliation we turn the anger on ourselves.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          For me, personally, I find anger takes away from productive time in my head. It also takes away from relationships. It subtracts from many things in my life. I can’t really think of a situation where anger has helped me in any way. 

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

            Anger is a motivator.  Granted, it is not the ideal motivator.  That would be love.  But both are emotions we experience. They exist.  Nature put both in us for a reason.  In fact anger exists in babies.   It told your mother you were hungry.  It told your sibling you weren’t going to take any more teasing.  It propelled you to act.   

            To shun anger, to deny it, suppress it, obstruct it, constrict it, causes it to fester.  It creates decay.  It clogs our insides and give us cancer.  It constipates. 

            Denying this denies our very human nature. 

            When someone piques your anger, let it out.  Politely.  With compassion.  In a kind way.  Release it.  Give it right back to them. 

            Then flush it and go on with your day. 

          • David C.

             An angry brain is full of static. Once escalated to anger, the human mind is incapable of reason, debate, or for the most part, planning. The key to anger is avoiding it altogether.

            Human behavior obeys rules. Weakness invites predation from those predisposed to it. But defense does not require anger, it requires analysis and (if indicated) action. Entering a defensive fight angry invites disaster.

            I try to ascribe others’ anger-inducing actions to folly on their part. It often disarms my anger, turning it to “tsk, tsk” and moving on. Fear is not anger, however. If someone acts to make me fearful, avoidance is Job 1, with confrontation the very last resort. If I must resort to violence, it is a tacit admission that I failed to Be Somewhere Else At That Moment.

            Sadly, popular consent to our evolving Police State produces justifiable apprehension. We cannot fight, even  justifiably, the state to which our neighbors (tacitly) consent (for in doing so, we battle our neighbors, a war we cannot win). If our neighbors tolerate too much oppression, the wise have no choice but to leave.

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

            Why then do we get angry?  Why did we evolve over several-hundred-thousand-years to experience anger?

            If there was no genetic advantage it would have burned out of our genome long ago.  

            Consciously making an effort to avoid anything that comes to us naturally is  a recipe for disaster.  We must not avoid anger.  We must see it.  Feel it.  Question why we are experiencing it.  Only then can we deal with it constructively. 

          • kuhiudesigns

            Brilliantly put again.

          • kuhiudesigns

            Well said.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872958420 Brandon Harnish

      Pacifism isn’t about repression. It’s about removing the power of the bully. If you don’t respond, he doesn’t get his kicks. If someone steals your watch, give them your coat, too. Doing so completely undercuts their effort to abuse you. If someone says you’re an idiot, tell them that actually you’re a really BIG idiot. Or something along those lines. The law of the Universe is love. Love is bigger than violence. That’s why Paul says to pay taxes AND love the person who is collecting the taxes. It isn’t about money. It’s about love.

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

        You refer to the world we want.  I am speaking from the world we have. 

        Certainly there are some bullies who set out with the goal to humiliate.  For others the humiliation is the fringe benefit of power.  Often humiliation never enters the picture. 

        I want honey.  I think twice about stealing it from the hive because I know I’m going to get stung.  I want the honey.  I don’t want to humiliate the bees. 

        Bees have stingers for a reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872958420 Brandon Harnish

    Thanks for this post, James. It’s perfect. I’m not blowing smoke up your ass, either. I’d go so far as saying it’s an answer to prayer.

  • Roy

    I have no problem with being physically or verbally pacifistic

    But when it comes to my thoughts….i have some of the most dirty….viscious….hateful type of thoughts

    I am aware of them……i wish i could change them…..i have tried so hard…its improved….

    Thats why James…when you describe your thoughts….i can relate

    Just remember…..you are mot your thoughts

    As debbie ford says we alll have thoughts of The Judge, The Victim and The Complainer….

    But we are not our thoughts….

    If you have any methods to help me softem and make positive my thoughts i would be grateful…i will try the “not useful” trick

    I have been saying “I love myself” for the last week….and I feel its working too

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LRKGSMUZZSCQGDO5BRM5LGUK6Q NotA

    Hi, James,
    I wonder if you could refer me to a post on your thoughts about forgiving oneself.  If you can’t think of a relevant post, could you write one on the subject?  (How’s that for presumption, eh?)

    I’m in my early 50s, and about 15 years ago had a setback which caused me to give up the work I feel I was born to do. Of course, at the time I didn’t acknowledge — even to myself —  that I was giving it up.  I told myself I was taking a brief, well-deserved break, broadening myself, etc.  But months stretched into years, and eventually my self-esteem nosedived.  And the truth was I chickened out about pursuing the work I was meant to do (and actually had achieved considerable success in.)  I engaged in endless distraction. Sometimes I humor myself that the internet ate my life, but really, my fear did.

    Any thoughts on how one lets go, forgives oneself, stops perseverating on the self-betrayal?  It’s been eating me alive.

  • Tim Leon

    Another keeper James, thanks!

  • Lacheraqui

    thank you; your post reminds me of this wisdom from paramahansa yogananda, whose teachings i’ve embraced since my early 20’s:“You may control a mad elephant;You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;Ride the lion and play with the cobra;By alchemy you may learn your livelihood;You may wander through the universe incognito;Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;You may walk in water and live in fire;But control of the mind is better and more difficult.”

    • Lacheraqui

      (…wish the comment function could have reproduced the formatting — but i’m not angry about it!)

  • http://twitter.com/Rhumel1079 Robert Humelbaugh

    After years of military, martial arts, firearms training, there’s nothing more than I want to be than a pacifist. I despise violence. I am completely and totally anti war. The problem is there are just too many idiots who revel in using coercive force on others. As tired as I am with it all, I just can’t let that happen to me without resisting. I’m all for avoidance, moving away from threats, which is why I don’t fly, stay away from the uniformed class, etc. But we are rapidly spiraling towards a day when the evil little thugs who call themselves cops, soldiers, “agents” “officers” members of the “helping” profession, etc will just have to violate our space while “doing good”.

    And there just isn’t any other place to move to avoid them.

  • shamkaby

    This is cool.I will try it out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Bolivar/1711920054 Simon Bolivar

    Being passive is for pussies. Robert Humebaugh has it right.  I don’t want to be a hard ass, but sometimes you just have to for your and the world’s good. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I can’t think of a realistic example, though, that will affect me. At least in the prior 44 years I’ve never had reason for violence, even internally, although I often did and it did me no good. So I can’t expect the next 44 years to be different. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.breon Jordan Breon

    I have to agree with Robert Humelbaugh. I, too, was in the military, I grew up using guns and knives, and my family was not averse to using emotional and psychological violence to resolve disputes. Looking back, I think they believed that by never laying a hand on one another then they had committed no offense against one another. After witnessing the senseless violence and aggression in the Middle East, I became a pacifist and unrepentant anti-war supporter. My life has been much better for it, but I believe the old line by Pericles is more true now than it ever was: Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!

    In other words, I may not wish to engage in violence, but it seems more likely that the State and its thugs have no such reservation. They’re perfectly willing to maim and kill innocents if it advances their quest for more power and control. They can spray 18 year old girls sitting on the ground with pepper spray to the face and have the audacity to claim hey were threatened. They send their drones to kill anyone, women and children included, that happen to be near someone they claim deserves it. How long until they claim the same right to violence against me or my wife and children? How can I remain a pacifist in the face of such tyranny?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Q6UX7QB3IZY3QG6HPB6VC2L3MQ Throw Away

    Sometimes it just helps to pummel somebody (who deserves it) sensless

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t know. I think the first arrow is the person who deserves it. But the more deadly arrow is when you let it affect you. 

  • http://www.BlitzMetrics.com Dennis Yu

    They say revenge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Great quote, Dennis. Thanks. 

  • Epiminondas

    You mean I should give up fantasizing about bitch-slapping Hillary Clinton?  This is going to be tough…

  • Malcolm_Greenhill

    There’s another issue to be addressed here.  It’s only by being able and willing to use deadly force and take full responsibility for our actions that we develop ethical maturity.  When the Founding Fathers used the phrase “dignity of a free man” they had this in mind. 

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    I think no matter what the situation – even in extreme cases where you must at least defend yourself long enough to escape – the key is not to poison yourself in the well of bitterness. Life is too short for that. 

  • http://iamthesupercommittee.wordpress.com/ Souris

    I think people who focus outward and feel things are happening to them without their control, e.g. “look what the world is doing to me,” tend to have a much harder time with anger and violence than people who focus inward, e.g. “how am I reacting to the world.”

    Couldn’t help noticing that recent comments by ex-military express an unfortunately common conspiracy-theory type worldview in which those in authority are assumed to be evil simply by virtue of the fact that they are in authority.

    I am sorry that the experiences of these gentlemen have led them to feel that the world is against them and that they are entitled to be aggressive and violent in response.

    James A., I agree with you that violence harms both parties and that walking away is almost always the sanest response.  Mens sana in corpore sano.

    Anecdotally, the people I know who are most pacific in thought and deed are the most successful.  Whereas the people I know who are most reactive and excitable tend to live in a cycle of crisis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Clark/834148865 Adam Clark

    “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.”

    and that was said by Ghandi