Since I mentioned James Altucher in my worldview post and consider him one of my major influences, I thought I’d talk a little more about that. Specifically, I’d like to discuss what about his worldview appeals to me and how I’ve applied things he’s suggested.
What does it mean to choose yourself?
In the worldview post, I said that Altucher’s mantra is “choose yourself.” What does that mean? Of course, one way to read it is, “Stop waiting for someone else to choose you.” I think a lot of people have this fantasy that someone is going to come along, recognize their greatness, and launch them into the lavish circumstances they deserve. I feel confident saying this because:
- I was one of those people for far too long, and
- I see people reflect that mentality in their behavior all the time.
Of course, the slight problem with this fantasy is that it’s not gonna happen. Even worse, acting as if it will happen will almost certainly make you worse off in the long term. So what choosing yourself is really about is taking responsibility for your life (sound familiar?).
A lot of people interpret choosing yourself as an entrepreneurial thing, and that’s as good a starting point as any, but Altucher himself has said on several occasions that choosing yourself can be applied to pretty much any arena of your life. Indeed, I’ve had the most success applying his principles in my personal life.
I’m not sure exactly when I stumbled across Altucher’s blog – probably late 2012 or early 2013. I’m a bit more confident, although not 100%, about what led me there. For longtime readers of his blog, it wasn’t the usual thing that leads people there. I believe I had Googled something related to writing. In any case, his post, “33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer” was among the results. If you’re interested in improving your writing or just want to get a feel for Altucher’s writing style, I recommend checking it out.
Toward the end of that post, he recommends another post (capitalization in the original): “How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps.” I’d been impressed enough with the writing tips that I figured I’d check out that post, too.
In that post Altucher outlines what he calls the Daily Practice. It revolves around trying to make small improvements every day in your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual lives. I won’t recap it here because you can get the details straight from him in the link I gave. But I do want to talk about the emotional component because that had the biggest impact on me.
“I don’t get close to anyone bringing me down. This rule can’t be broken.” – James Altucher
Applying what I’ve learned
The above quote goes against what most of us are taught. Especially as women, we’re taught to take what’s handed to us and not make a scene. You don’t want to be one of those difficult women, do you?
I want to offer a quick clarification: I don’t read this as kicking someone while they’re down, and I don’t think that’s Altucher’s intent, either. It’s not about turning your back on someone who happens to be down on their luck in a given moment. But if you’re honest with yourself, you know the difference between that and someone who somehow is always in terrible situations that they’re sure aren’t their fault. For the sake of your own mental and emotional health, you have to keep the latter group at a distance, even if they’re friends or family.
I like the way Sri Ramakrishna (another important influence of mine who I’ll probably talk about in a future post) phrased it:
One need not hug the ‘tiger God.’ One should keep away from him and salute him from a distance.
Becoming less tolerant of the negativity I allow into my life has done wonders for my mental and emotional health. If you want to explore this idea further, I suggest reading “How to Deal With Crappy People.” It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.