Kissing Ruined My Life


Kissing probably ruined my life. At least for a good 20+ years. I was a late bloomer. Almost 19 for my first kiss. And in the dark, so nobody had to look at me. But, I guess like for most people, it totally changed my life. For the worse.

I mean, it really sucked what happened afterwards. Like the times she then didn’t want to kiss me when I did. Or the times she was kissing someone else. Or the times I wanted to kiss someone else but couldn’t, or didn’t or shouldn’t, or shouldn’t have, and then guilt remorse apologies anger pain jealousy crying anguish. Maybe if I had cut my testicles off at the age of 18 I would’ve avoided that but who wants to do that?

Kissing felt so good that I basically devoted the rest of my life to it. Let’s be honest. That’s why people want to make money. More money = more kissing. More money means less time with your boss, for instance. More time for kissing. More people who want to kiss you. Less anxiety. More confidence. Confidence = more kissing.

So now suddenly I might get frustrated in two ways: less kissing or less money. It adds up. To get more money I might need to do certain activities. And for each of those activities I might get frustrated. I would say I get frustrated 90% of the time. The last five times a business failed on me I thought that would be the end of my kissing career.

Because there is now a scientific study breaking down in a BS way almost every component of what scientists call “happiness”.  It turns out I have the  primary somatosensory cortex  in my brain to blame for that pleasurable feeling we get when we kiss. And all the dreadful aftermath that occurs when I can’t get the neurons in that particular cortex to light up on a regular basis. I guess I’m addicted to synapses firing in my primary somatosensory cortex. That makes me sound both smart and depraved at the same time. A perverted brain surgeon.

So today I needed to achieve my goals for the day on One of my goals I try to fulfill every day is to exercise the mental muscle. I do that by making a list.  So I made a list of ten things I often do or feel when I fail at something, or something does not go the way I wanted it to go. Like when something blocks me from kissing, making money, or any of the other numerous things I DEMAND from the world to give me happiness.

1) i regret (why did I have to invest? why did I have to go lean in for the kiss when that girl clearly didn’t like me, why did I buy that house and lose a ton of money on it, why did I make that trade and watch it instantly go down on me)

2) i resent (why did he get me into that investment. Why did she kiss me today when she was planning on not kissing me tomorrow? Like the one time she said, “my therapist told me not to make any changes for a year”. I actually was encouraged by that. As in, “ok, great, I’ll see you one year from today!”)

3) i panic a little, then a lot (what if I never get kissed again? what if I never make money again? what if i’m sick/depressed/insomniac/anxious forever?)

4) i think “why does this happen to me” (I forget all the good times. I forget all the times I was satisfied. I only remember the negative. Like an animal stuck in the dark woods with imaginary lions stalking all around the fringes of the clearing I’m in).

5) i project into the future about how everything now will go bad (well, if this girl doesn’t like me, then I’ll never find a girl like her again. If I can’t make money on this, then I will NEVER make money again. If I lost $1000 today trading then that means I will lose $250,000 a year, etc).

6) i feel like a failure (shame. NOBODY must find out. I have to be perfect! One time I was trading for someone. I made a trade that lost money. I stopped returning calls. Valuable lesson. He finally got ahold of me, pulled his money from me, and said, “you know, the only thing you have to do  in this business is be in communication.” )

7) i try to control by thrashing out an immediate solution (she didn’t pick up? call again. NOW! Or go there.  Wait for her at 3 in the morning. Or sell the investment at a discount. Or….something. I don’t know. DO SOMETHING!)

8) i get worried what people will think of me (don’t tell them I have to sell my house, don’t tell them I’m getting divorced, don’t tell them I lost that day at poker, don’t dont DONT)

9) i go into exile (leave NYC, dont return calls, dont talk to people, dont be friends, dont be family)

10) i try to control (maybe I can put the deal back together, maybe I can do some favor for her so she’ll kiss me again, maybe I can connect two people together so magic will happen and deals will happen and kisses will happen. )

These are all examples of what I call “the two arrow syndrome”. The first arrow is what originally frustrated you. The first arrow wounds you. But then the second arrow is one of the above ten items. The second arrow can kill you. The second arrow is much sharper than the first. Because it can linger in the heart until you bleed to death.

I’ve been hit by many arrows in my life. Many people have. But I’ve also often hurt myself twice as much with many second arrows. I don’t want to do that anymore. Being aware of the second arrow is the first step. It doesn’t mean you roll over and give up. In fact, quite the opposite.

If you aren’t busy bleeding to death from the second arrow you can calmly assess the situation and figure out what to do RIGHT NOW in the present. Don’t project into the future since most worries of the future never happen. Don’t regret the past. It’s already over. None of those thoughts will help you. They are a waste of time. They are unproductive and will make you stupid because they take up too much space in the brain.

In other words, don’t time travel. Don’t get lost in the future. Don’t get lost in the past. Turn off your time machine. Live right now. We need you here in the present moment. We need you because the world is a better place when you are here and not time traveling.

(Lichtenstein’s “Kiss”)

But most importantly, give up control. Accept what happened. It was bad. Observe the feeling of “badness” inside of you. It’s just a feeling. It’s there and it sucks.

But it’s not the real you. The real me accepts what is and says: ok, maybe I need to exercise now since that helps bring down the bad feeling so I can be productive. Or maybe I need to sleep, so I will wake up feeling less anxious. Or I should back out of a situation completely (sell the trade, drop the girl, shut down the business) instead of trying to force something to happen that won’t happen. This way I avoid the second arrow.

Meanwhile, invite the pain in, and let it sit around in my head until it withers away, bored and tired and hungry for attention. Even though the pain feels stronger than any joy you might be feeling, let it just sit there. It WILL get bored. It WILL go away.

Or I should hold my breath for 20 seconds, exhale for 20 seconds, then hold again for 20 seconds. Now your body really has something to worry about. It puts things in perspective instantly and reduces anxiety. It’s like “insta-yoga”.

Life never throws you something you can’t handle. Even when she or he refuses to kiss you. Take a step back, continue to improve, meet your daily goals, and eventually someone better comes along. And then the kiss might last a few seconds longer.



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  • SDL

    I want you to know this. I need you know this.  We – the many readers of this blog – crave for you to know one simple truth.  You writing change our lives.  Every day someone outthere (me and many other I am sure) read your stuff and feel better.  We deal with our pains via yours.  Learn our lessons via those you have learent.  We then go, wipe the tears and we move on.  One step at a time.  One day a time.  Becoming better so we can do better.  So we can take the message and change the world by changing ourselves first.  

    so please know, I and we can not thank you enough.  Thank you. 

    • James Altucher

      SDL, thank you for saying that. It brightens my day. And since its 7am here, that’s a nice start for the day. Thanks. 

      • SDL

        James, I have an idea.  How about we do a small meetup in NYC.  I will find the place.  You can charge if you want.  We can take this blog and your thinking to the next level.  I am sure many will attend.  

        Just a thought on how you can make even a bigger difference.  You can do it whenever, wherever but since you are in NYC (and, selfishly me too), I thought if you like it can be a great place to start. Cheers, Daniel 

        • Chris Han

          I agree with SDL. I think many readers and I would love to do a meetup in NYC, i’m willing to pay whatever to do this! haha

    • Chrissie@Yoga in Recovery

      One Breath at a Time …

  • Mike

    Well this couldn’t have been timed better. I am laying in bed stressing the future, regretting mistakes, and trying in vain to figure out what i can try and control today. So, maybe instead, I will kiss my wife and daughters and play tennis. James, please keep writing. And thank you very much.

    • James Altucher

      That’s the key. Don’t time travel. What can you do this very moment! Thanks a lot for commenting and I hope today goes well. 

  • 736hundred

    “Don’t time travel.”

    That is perfect.  Easy to remember.  

    I am trying to teach my daughter this right now, she is one tough student.  I can’t seem to get through to her.  :(  So she works her self into stress and worry and then can’t do anything.

    • Chris Han

      I have 3 younger sisters (2 in college) and another in Kindergarten.  Being the oldest brother and watching my sisters go through it all  (all the stress and societal pressures), just let your daughter be. As much as you don’t think she’s listening and you feel like you’re talking to a wall, I wouldn’t worry too much because I think deep inside, your daughter is actually listening. 

      I’m sure she’ll grow up to be just fine.

  • TheBlueTurtle

    Hi, James. There is a term used by Albert Ellis in his book “A New Guide to Rational Living”…it’s called “awfulizing”. This is where you take the original experience and then blow it out of proportion; i.e. making it More Awful than it actually is. And yes, a) you burn up a lot more energy in that effort, and b) it actually causes you to dissociate from the real experience of the emotion, so in becoming irrational about it you make yourself even less of a Truly Feeling human being.

    Otherwise, haven’t been kissed in a while myself, and not sure when that will be the case for me again, but totally appreciate your appreciation for kissing. : )

    • James Altucher

      Thanks Blue. I like that book but read it awhile ago. I’ll look up their use of the term. 

  • Erika

    this is a wornderful and usefull reading sorry for my english but still I could understand and was amazing for me, in my opinion you think or write like other men never said or acepted from theirself love love your writting thanks 

  • Raul Vega

    Great post, I was starting to feel like I was going to dip into another death spiral and this really helped me put things in perspective.  Thanks James.

  • wilsprod

    Time Travel…………what a great way to put it.  When I end up time traveling again, it’s nice to have a short and clever term so I bring myself back sooner than later.  Thank you James.

  • Verry

    I am addicted to Jamesssss… Helppp

  • Remanz

    This is absolutely powerful. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t found your blog. I am moved.

  • Zardoz123

    Very true James. “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain

  • Bill Kasal

    Being in the Present is such a wonderful place!  There is beauty, wonder and ENDLESS possibility in this moment.  Thanks for the reminder, James!  Keep up the great work!

  • Vercin

    You spend too much time dip-stickiing. e.g.,, “How am I today?”

  • Efrain

    I’ve been lost in life lately. Too many mistakes and failures at such a young age. I think you’ve noticed with all of the questions I ask during your Q&A haha. I’ve done every single one of those ten you mentioned. And at this young age, it feel like it’s sucking the youth out of me. All of my friends seem so happy. They have no worries it seems. And I’m jealous. But me, all of my mistakes and failures have left me ashamed. Scared. Time traveling. Why me I always think. Or even, why now. 

    But thanks James, you really are that light house in the middle of a storm. And I’ve been a broken raft, trying to find my way through it.

    • James Altucher

      Efrain, you are going well. The key is what you just said: even acknowledging the time traveling. The acknowledgment itself takes you out of the time machine and places you right here and now. That’s the first step. Keep practicing that. The worries start to slip away to you can find the taste of freedom that right now is giving you. 

  • Tom

    I’ve said it before, but you’re such a wise man James, and your writing is so accessible, and relevant.

  • altm

    I will sleep tonight, thanks James and Kamal for lighting the path….I love myself

  • Roy


    you will like this 

  • acharmanshea

    It’s like in Roller Ball. If you get knocked down, you have to get up right away or someone will run over your head. Second arrow. 

    • James Altucher

      That’s exactly what it’s like. At that moment right after you hit you can’t waste time thinking “why do I always get hit like this?” or “what if i get up and get hit again.” You have to GET UP and move. That moment. 

  • Nandita

    Stop thinking and stay in the now :)

  • Alan Edgett

    Love it James! No need to borrow trouble from the future, the NPV stinks!

  • JKF

    I time travel all the time.  I live in the past.  I don’t think of the future as much.  I don’t worry and fret as you are prone to… and I suppose that is a blessing.  I do occasionally go into panic mode about some future possibilities (lonely guy at age 40/50/60… no girl, no $$, no life, etc…)  But who doesn’t have those thoughts?   My point is I don’t harp on them… But I DO harp on the past. 

    Actually that is an understatement.  I eat/sleep/breathe the past.  I spend inordinate amounts of time full of self pity and being a Victim – I’m ashamed to admit that but it’s true (maybe that is why I am admitting it online!)  I even find myself pacing my room TALKING OUT LOUD – arguing with myself or people I know or used to know – fueled by such anger for things that happened and didn’t happen.  It’s okay because I am a writer, I tell myself.  I’m allowed to be weird like that.  But the truth is, it’s not okay.  I want to change.  I have to change.  

    I thank you for your “Don’t Time Travel” quote.  It is simple, succinct, and a cool phrase.  All 3 are important when you find yourself in that moment and want out – but how do you get out?!?!  Well, next time I’m stuck in the past (which shouldn’t be too long from now) I will say to myself ‘Don’t Time Travel.’  I will make that my mantra.  I will say it enough times that hopefully it becomes habitual and ingrained in me to the point where I won’t have to say it… where I will jar myself out of the past unconsciously.  That is the goal.  To break the vicious cycle of time travel… after all, who would want to time travel if you weren’t allowed to change anything?  If you could only witness…   God that would be hell.  Yet that is the hell I put myself through every day.  

    I am sure I will continue to time travel.. it’s not a switch you can just turn off…  but I like the idea of just saying one phrase – one simple little phrase – to get you back into real time.  I’ve tried talking myself out of it, or going into deep reasoning with myself (things like ‘this isn’t getting you anywhere, why harp on this, etc..).  Hasn’t worked yet.  I think simple better.  KISS.  Keep It Simple, Stupid.  “Don’t Time Travel” is simple.  

    Thanks, James.  

  • ankya7

    awesome article. I am 21 , i am from India, and i my first kiss was some months back. So honestly this article went back like a movie trailer to me. Thanks man, Love your writings.

  • Captainkolak

    Heroin felt so good that I basically devoted the rest of my life to it. Let’s be honest. That’s why people want to make more money. More money = more heroin. More money means less time with your boss, for instance. More people who want to do heroin with you. Less anxiety. More confidence. Confidence = more heroin

  • Jacob

    Since you like to “exercise the mental muscle” everyday I thought you might be interested in this. I do it every morning to gain focus and give my brain a little boost.
    The site is called, and it gives you a set of mental games to play everyday focusing on many different brain functions. It also scores your progress so you can see areas you should work on and areas you are showing strength in. Anyway, great post as always. Thanks!

  • Andreas Moser

    But it’s “International Kissing Day” today:

  • JBS

    This is my first time to read this page …… Love it..!!!That’s.. a very refreshing for…. thanks a lot… I hope you could maintain this… always…!!! :)