by: James Altucher
I am mentally ill. And I’m in a mid-life crisis. I’m dishonest. And I’m a horrible father. And I think with my dick.
Thanks to all the kind strangers these past few days who wrote me these insightful facts about myself.
Here is the evidence: I don’t spend all my money on useless things.
I don’t believe in college, or voting. I have never had credit card.
A lot of people didn’t like my article the other day about minimalism.
About the fact that I have two bags of ALL of my possessions in the world and I have no steady address. [see attached photo]
Comments ranged from what I said above to, “This douchebag should get a haircut” to “He is probably screwing crack whores”.
I hope none of these things are true. But if I am mentally ill I probably can’t tell. That’s the sad problem with mental illness.
I am not sleeping in the street, by the way, I just don’t feel like ever signing a lease or buying a home again. And yes, getting a haircut today.
America has a negative savings rate.
That means the average American spends more than they earn so they have to borrow money to buy the rest of the things they spend on.
Which means if you do the reverse of spending (throwing 99.9% of your things away), you are practically the opposite of average.
And what happens when you go the other way while everyone is running to catch the train leaving the station behind you?
People think you are crazy. People think you are missing the train. The train they rushed to get to.
People think you are having a crisis or you are depressed. People think you are less than them because you are not living their lifestyle.
If you stretch beyond what is normal, then you find out who you are.
I have never owned a credit card. So when I had to find an apartment recently and potentially sign a lease, I had a problem.
I had no credit history.
My accountant had to write a letter. My lawyer had to write a letter. I had to show my bank statements. And I had to meet every other resident of the building.
I still had to explain why it was that unlike everyone else in America, I have never gotten into credit card debt.
By the way, debt is not a bad thing. Debt is what fuels almost all small businesses. And small businesses are responsible for more than 50% of all job creation in the United States.
For me, though, I have mental problems when it comes to debt. I really am mentally ill.
When I saw my parents lose all of their money and then get severely depressed because of debt I decided never to have any debt.
It’s ok to have money in the bank and not spend it. I value my freedom more than anything. I value being able to create things. Being able to spend time with people I love.
People with debt can do those things as well. No judgment. But I can’t do it. I get anxious.
For me, this helps with freedom. If I lose all my money, as I have many times before (and written about in detail), I go back to what I always do.
I wrote several years ago about something called “The Daily Practice” that I do to bounce off bottom.
One time, I had lost all of my money for maybe the third time in a row. I asked myself, “What am I doing wrong ALL of the time? And what am I doing right when things are going well??”
And then I cried and pretended to be a psychic on Craigslist to meet women.
But the then I figured out what I was doing on the way up. And I started doing it. Every day. Every single day.
It’s worked for me. I don’t know if it works for others. But I do it.
I wrote about it in great detail in my book, “Choose Yourself!” but in the past few years I’ve modified it a little.
I called the chapter, “How to be the Luckiest Person Alive.” And I really feel that way. Just like people in a mental institution think they are Jesus, I think I am the luckiest person alive.
My New Daily Practice
For context here is the old daily practice:
Every day, work on physical health, emotional health (strengthening your relationships), mental health (creativity), spiritual health (solving “difficult gratitude problems” and cultivating compassion).
If I just do this every day, I know I will bounce back very fast from any hardship.
It used to take me years to bounce back from a hardship. Like losing all my money. Or a ruined relationship.
Now I bounce back so fast people almost think I’m a sociopath about it. I guess better that than being depressed all the time.
When I’m depressed I end up face down in the gutter with cars heading in my direction.
But I have new things that I do that have helped me to bounce back and thrive even faster.
And the new daily practice:
The 1% Rule
In each of the areas above try to improve 1% a day.
It turns out if you don’t improve, you decline. This is based on research in almost every area of life where there are peak performers: sports, music, chess, art, etc. I like to apply it to life in general.
My podcast with Anders Ericsson, who is the worlds greatest expert on peak performance (discoverer of the famous “10,000 hour rule” of world class performance), discusses this.
I want to be world class at life. But I’ll settle with better than yesterday.
Don’t Ask “Why?”
Every year, people will do things that seem irrationally bad. They will do those things TO us.
You can’t ask “Why?” If someone fires you from a job and you ask “Why?” They are not going to give you a good answer.
If someone lies to you or cheats on you or leaves you and you ask “Why? they will not give you an honest answer. Often there is no answer.
If a lion chases you, humans for four million years never asked “Why?” Actually, that’s totally not true. YOUR ANCESTORS never asked why.
Losers who died asked “Why?” But they don’t have living descendants.
Only in the past 100 years we have the luxury of “Why?” It’s a luxury we abuse.
Only ask “WHY?” when you can gain. Never ask it when you know there is no answer.
Always Be Reinventing.
Reinvention never ends. Once we fall into a routine, we fall in a rut.
I appreciate articles like, “routines of successful people.” But life is too big to be stuck in a cage at the zoo.
A lion in the zoo has the same routine every day. But he is no longer king of the jungle.
It’s ok to experiment with your routine to see what works better.
I don’t mean have sex with crack whores. I mean, miss a bus because you performed an act of kindness.
Do it every day.
Its ok to say, I want to wander.
I’m not a young person but I still want to wander in life. To experiment. To enjoy things. This is how I stay young.
I write these types of posts every day. I need to do other things also. I am trying to reinvent myself.
I don’t know. Shit in your pants once in awhile and learn what it’s like to be alone.