Ten Reasons I Don’t Have Opinions
- Posted by James Altucher
I’ve been burnt again. And then tied up and dragged through the streets. What’s the purpose of an opinion? To prove I’m right? You’re wrong. I’m sorry if I did that. I’m trying to eliminate things. Not just extra material belongings that I no longer need or that I never really needed. But all the things we’re taught from birth are “important” or “our way of life” that become unnecessary burdens and just wastes of time when we try to cling to them and protect them as if they were something precious.
A) Nobody is ever going to change their mind. For instance, if I say something like “kids shouldn’t go to college” everyone either already agrees with me or disagrees with me. Very few minds are changed no matter how correct I am (and I am correct). Here are some of my other opinions: Buying a home is ALWAYS bad, Voting is stupid, Shakespeare is Boring, Zero Wars were justified, and Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana should be handed over to the Jews and they should move from Israel to the US. There! Go argue with that one.
B) 100 Years from Now everyone reading this blog will be dead. I know there is a labcoat army working in Science that might change this. But, trust me, it won’t work. Science has it’s limits. And after seeing the shit you eat, don’t count on being alive 100 years from now.
A year or so ago, a guy I didn’t like died. We used to argue all the time on our opinions. Now he’s dead. I guess I won. After he died it was amazing how many people wrote long gushing tributes to him. One guy who told me that he was sexually harassed by the dead person wrote the most gushing one. Maybe they ended up having sex and it was wonderful. I don’t know. I have no opinion on that one.
Which brings me to the more important issue. What if we argue and then you die. What if you have a heart attack while you are arguing with me? Is it my fault then?
C) Us vs Them. The World Wide Web (“triple dub” for those in the business) has created this oozing lava of “Us” vs “Them”. What happened before there were message boards? Before there were “threads”? Or hypertext?
People say the most hateful things and I imagine: what was it like the first time that person kissed his wife? Did a warm gush of chocolate fill his heart? Did he say to himself, “this second, I am the happiest man alive.” Did he have an erection? Did she kiss him softly on his lips and then his cheek and then his neck. And then, erection intact, did he log onto the internet as “Guest” and post, “James Altucher is a fucking douchebag.” ?
D) Why Educate People? In poker, you can tell who the amateur is if they complain when they lose a hand. Sometimes they look at the guy who won the hand and say, “you are so stupid! You played that hand totally wrong. You just got lucky.” And they might be right. But the reason that it’s an amateur (and insecure) move is because you WANT people to play the hand wrong. You want them to play the hand wrong every single time so that the odds stay in your favor if you don’t go insane.
There’s two worlds: the material world we live in where there’s limited resources. And the world inside, where we either find our happiness or it stays just slightly outside of our grasp. It’s our choice. The world inside has infinite resources if we let it. We can all find peace there, no matter what our situation is. So, as they say, go for the “best of both worlds”. Be happy on the inside. And don’t educate the weak players who will stab you in a heartbeat in a world of limited resources.
E) I Could Be Reading a Book. Time is also a limited resource. You can respond to a comment on The Facebook or you can take a walk by the river. Or you can kiss someone. Or you can jump on a trampoline.
I went to a trampoline place a few weeks ago. Little kids were running up this slanted trampoline and doing flips. I wanted to do that. But I’m too old. Kids aren’t afraid of doing a flip and breaking their necks and then being paralyzed for life. But as soon as I’m in the air, all I can imagine is my neck snapped off from the rest of my body. Would I pay anything to return to that age when I still wet the bed but could do a flip on the trampoline? No. Never. But I love myself anyway.
F) Loneliness. I think most people fight because they are alone. There’s nothing we can do about loneliness. We’ve been trapped in these bodies since birth. But we try. We want people to agree with us so that for a brief second we can feel good about ourselves, establish a connection, and then make slow, sweet love.
Only the third part doesn’t really happen. But we think it will. There are better ways to combat my loneliness than have an opinion that lets me join the group of the other 49.9% of the world who share my opinion.
G) I’m Always Wrong. I have never had a correct opinion. I don’t even know what a correct opinion smells like. When I first wrote that zero wars can be justified someone mentioned some polynesian war from “Before Christ”. Or peloponnesian war. Some war from 2000 years ago.
Opinions are like money. No matter how much you know, there’s always someone who knows more. And they aren’t afraid to flaunt it. I have no credentials on anything. My education is hopelessly outdated. And my ten year old child constantly corrects me. The other day I tried to convince her the US was a republic and not a democracy. But she wouldn’t change her opinion (see “A” above) even though I was telling her a FACT. When I give an opinion, I know that opinion works for me, right then. But that’s about it. I don’t always need to fight for the glory.
H) Hold Your Breath. Try holding your breath for just 30 seconds. That’s all it takes. Try it right now while you are looking at this line. Now…on the 29th second, do any opinions matter?
I) Less. I’m trying to have less things in my life right now. This doesn’t always mean less trinkets that shine on a shelf. It also might mean less things that upset me. Less people that bother me. Less regrets that are long dead and buried. Less anxieties about a future that may or may not exist. I find that if I dig deep and throw away one thing a day, then I wake up the next day a little more peaceful. I don’t need to have so many opinions. The fight will continue with or without me.
J) Bewildered. I like to try this exercise: everytime I have a judgement about something, I change the punctuation at the end of the judgement from an exclamation point to a question mark. “She should do this!” becomes, “she should do this?” Or “Obama should legalize crack!” becomes “Obama should legalize crack?” And, dare I say it, “Nobody should go to elementary school anymore because it’s a brainwashing concentration camp posing as a glorified babysitting service!” becomes “Really?”
Just try it. It’s fun. Walk around all day bewildered. It’s much more peaceful.
“That guy shouldn’t shove me!” becomes “that guy shouldn’t shove me?” We live in a strange world. Every day, a labyrinth to explore. Clues to unfold. It’s like you wake up in the dentist’s chair and get thrown out into the street. The light is strange, your eyes are dilated (because of those eyedrops the dentist keeps forcing on me when I’m unconscious), you’re groggy, people are very very busy walking around you, paying with the currency of unhappiness now in order to someday reach their glorious futures.
And you wonder – what happens if I just sit here? If I enjoy the sunlight hitting me. If I laugh at the dilated, fuzzy, people. If I cry myself to sleep in your arms. Before you become angry again and you try to beat me and strangle me with an electric cord.
Songs listened to while writing this post:
Books read from this morning, pre-post:
- “No One Belongs Here More Than You”,
- “Venus Drive”,
- “Factotum” ,
- “The Tao of Bruce Lee: a Martial Arts Memoir”,