Choose Yourself

Choose Yourself! Book Cover Choose Yourself!
James Altucher
Createspace Independent Pub

You are not going to climb the corporate ladder. That idea is dead. No one is managing your career for you. Your "boss" isn't looking out for you. You need to get moving. You need to take control. You need to be moving forward, always. Learning. Improving. Adjusting. Adapting. Be an artist. Hustle. Don't stop. You are responsible for your happiness, health and fulfilling work and wealth.

Now, every day when I wake up I am grateful. I have to be. And I have to count the things that are abundant in my life. Literally count them. If I don’t they will begin to disappear. I’ve watched them disappear before. I don’t want it to happen again. In some cultures, like Buddhism, you want things in your life to disappear, to reduce your needs and desires. To achieve some form of enlightenment. I believe in this brand of spirituality as well. I don’t think it and abundance are mutually exclusive at all. If you lower your expectations, for instance, your expectations are easy to exceed.

In fact, “the American Dream” comes from a marketing campaign developed by Fannie Mae to convince Americans newly flush with cash to start taking mortgages.

There’s a saying, “The learned man aims for more. But the wise man decreases. And then decreases again.”

The term “Keeping up with the Joneses” was introduced into popular culture in 1976 to refer to the idea that we are never satisfied anymore.

The companies and people in the United States who are greatly increasing in wealth are those who invest overseas in search of cheaper capital per technological development.

I hate to sound like a weirdo Buddhist, but the only things that really matter in this world are the relationships you have with the people you love, and the meaningful things that you do. Haters don’t fit anywhere into that. Don’t devote any mental space to them.”

But in order to have a fully functioning life, we need a functioning body, a healthy brain, a functioning social life, a functioning idea muscle, and a very fundamental sense that there are some things we can’t control.

We’re taught at an early age that we’re not good enough.

We need to unlearn this imprisonment. Not dissect and analyze it. Just completely unlearn it.

Without a doubt, you will get what you ask for. Not in a law of attraction sort of way, where the idea is you get what you visualize. That doesn’t work without having all of the other pieces in place.

You will be the beacon that will enhance the lives of everyone around you and, in doing so, trigger the actual law of nature that says when you enhance everyone around you, you can’t help but enhance yourself.

Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction—creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?

The goal is to be the ocean—the central force in our existence that moves mountains, creates all life, shakes continents, and is respected by everyone.

Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too.

This is a daily practice.

My routine: Wake up somewhere between 5 and 6 a.m. Mostly protein breakfast (I like Tim Ferriss’s slow-carb diet that he describes in his book The 4-Hour Body), and a late lunch around 2 or 3. Lots of walks and breaks while I walk. You can never get enough exercise really, and no creative person has ever complained about too much walking. And then I go to sleep between 8 and 9. Nobody ever died of starvation avoiding that third meal of the day. And if you eat too late in the day, or drink alcohol too late in the day (which pretty much wipes out drinking alcohol at all), your body gets into trouble digesting at night. Which will hurt your sleeping. Which will hurt your metabolism in the morning. And so on.

The society that we were told would be here, waiting for us, is completely gone and is never coming back. You can either take the blue pill (become depressed about an artificial reality that is never going to return) or take the red pill (fully enter the Choose Yourself era and take advantage of its opportunities).

Try any one of these things each day: A) Sleep eight hours. B) Eat two meals instead of three. C) No TV. D) No junk food. E) No complaining for one whole day. F) No gossip. G) Return an e-mail from five years ago. H) Express thanks to a friend. I) Watch a funny movie or a stand-up comic. J) Write down a list of ideas. The ideas can be about anything. K) Read a spiritual text. Any one that is inspirational to you. The Bible, The Tao te Ching, anything you want. L) Say to yourself when you wake up, “I’m going to save a life today.” Keep an eye out for that life you can save. M) Take up a hobby. Don’t say you don’t have time. Learn the piano. Take chess lessons. Do stand-up comedy. Write a novel. Do something that takes you out of your current rhythm. N) Write down your entire schedule. The schedule you do every day. Cross out one item and don’t do that anymore. O) Surprise someone. P) Think of ten people you are grateful for. Q) Forgive someone. You don’t have to tell them. Just write it down on a piece of paper and burn the paper. It turns out this has the same effect in terms of releasing oxytocin in the brain as actually forgiving them in person. R) Take the stairs instead of the elevator. S) I’m going to steal this next one from the 1970s pop psychology book Don’t Say Yes When You Want to Say No: when you find yourself thinking of that special someone who is causing you grief, think very quietly, “No.” If you think of him and (or?) her again, think loudly, “No!” Again? Whisper, “No!” Again, say it. Louder. Yell it. Louder. And so on. T) Tell someone every day that you love them. U) Don’t have sex with someone you don’t love. V) Shower. Scrub. Clean the toxins off your body. W) Read a chapter in a biography about someone who is an inspiration to you. X) Make plans to spend time with a friend. Y) If you think, “Everything would be better off if I were dead,” then think, “That’s really cool. Now I can do anything I want and I can postpone this thought for a while, maybe even a few months.” Because what does it matter now? The planet might not even be around in a few months. Who knows what could happen with all these solar flares. You know the ones I’m talking about. Z) Deep breathing. When the vagus nerve is inflamed, your breathing becomes shallower. Your breath becomes quick. It’s fight-or-flight time! You are panicking. Stop it! Breathe deep. Let me tell you something: most people think “yoga” is all those exercises where people are standing upside down and doing weird things. In the Yoga Sutras, written in 300 B.C., there are 196 lines divided into four chapters. In all those lines, ONLY THREE OF THEM refer to physical exercise. It basically reads, “Be able to sit up straight.” That’s it. That’s the only reference in the Yoga Sutras to physical exercise. Claudia always tells me that yogis measure their lives in breaths, not years. Deep breathing is what keeps those breaths going.

No news. No TV. No junk food. No dinner if you can avoid it (eat a late lunch and a late breakfast.

Often when we attach our happiness to external goals: financial success, relationship success, etc., we get disappointed. Even when things work out, everything cycles, and the happiness is often fleeting.

CREATESPACE. Both Kamal and I used CreateSpace because they are owned by Amazon—where we were going to sell our books—and have excellent customer service. They let you pick the size of your book, and then have Microsoft Word templates that you download to format your book within. Kamal did his all himself. I did my first book by myself, as well. But for my second book, for a small fee, I hired someone ( to format the book, create the book design, and create the final PDF, which I uploaded. He also checked grammar, made proactive suggestions on font (sans serif instead of serif), and was overall just extremely helpful.

But with Kindle, CreateSpace charges $70 and they take care of everything until it’s uploaded to the Kindle store. Now your book is available in paperback and Kindle editions.

Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.

In I Was Blind but Now I See, I wrote about how people no longer needed a home or an education. How both are leashes that society has created to hold you down and prevent you from growth.

Start with my book 40 Alternatives to College, which could just as easily apply to high school.

This is how you build your “tribe.” Your tribe, in part, is defined by you (you seek them out) but also defines you (you’re in the tribe of entrepreneurs or you are in the tribe of cubicle people).

Make the list right now. Every dream. I want to be a bestselling author. I want to reduce my material needs. I want to have freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to help all of the people around me or the people who come into my life. I want everything I do to be a source of help to people. I want to only be around people I love, people who love me. I want to have time for myself. THESE ARE NOT GOALS. These are themes. Every day, what do I need to do to practice those themes? It starts the moment I wake up. “Who can I help today?” I ask the darkness when I open my eyes. “Who would you have me help today?” I’m a secret agent and I’m waiting for my mission. Ready to receive. This is how you take baby steps. This is how eventually you run toward freedom.

Rule #5: Blogging is not about money. Blogging is about trust. You don’t sell ads on your blog (rarely), you don’t get the big book deal (rarely), but you do build trust and this leads to opportunities.

The Physical Body: Am I eating well? Am I exercising? Am I flossing? Am I sleeping enough? There are really no shortcuts. The only people I know who claim they sleep “three hours a day and still have a ton of energy” are 100 percent bipolar. No joke.

The Emotional Body: Am I surrounding myself with people who love me? Am I not engaging with the people who put me down, even if they are co-workers? Am I not gossiping? Am I expressing gratitude to the people who are good to me?

The Mental Body: People have lots of ideas, but they are mostly bad ones. The way you get good ideas is to do two things: 1) Read two hours a day. 2) Write ten ideas a day. By the end of a year, you will have read for almost one thousand hours and written down 3,600 ideas.

All you have to do is stay in the present. When you catch yourself upset about the past or worried about the future, say to yourself, “Ah, I’m time traveling,” then STOP. That’s what meditation is. That’s what being “spiritual” means: not time traveling. Don’t believe anyone who says it isn’t. And you can practice it all day. Still unsure? Do this every day: wake up and think of five people you are grateful for in your life right now. Not people who you were grateful for in the past. And not people you hope to be grateful for in the future if they do what you want them to do. Five people RIGHT NOW. That’s all you have to do. Want to take it further? Surrender to the fact that you can’t control ALL of the events in your life. Those people you hope to be grateful for probably aren’t going to do exactly what you want them to. All you can do is the preparation. The food will taste how it will. Finally, try to label your thoughts: “future” or “past.” If you can do that, you stand a pretty good chance of remaining in the present. When you start to question and practice in these four areas—when you get all four of these bodies healthy—the quality of your ideas will get better, you will have more energy and time, and you will build the basic foundation that will later turn into the house you want to live in.

Stay motivated.

If every day you wake up and say, “What adventure will happen to me today?” then adventures will happen to you.

She was amazingly good at sales.