The wisdom of James Altucher (July reflections)

For the last few months I’ve been reading what I can get my hands on from James Altucher after stumbling across him quite accidentally while conducting a Google search for ideas on cutting down on drinking (coincidentally). The dude might not strike others as terribly impressive right off the bat, but take time to read his posts and to think about the stories he shares about his own past failures and mistakes and I think for some of you out there his key messages may begin sinking in as they finally have been for me.

I’m extremely grateful for that man and his willingness to be so honest and open to facing the scrutiny of us critics out here in the public domain. That took a lot of balls to be so forthright about what he’s been through, how he’s fucked up, what he’s scared of, what he failed at, and how he eventually managed to improve his station in life. I am very much impressed with what he’s been trying to do here by sharing all of this information with the rest of us, and I, for one, really needed it. Really, really did. Needed to read his words over and over and over until they began to thoroughly sink in.

The man is right on so many levels. Certainly wouldn’t hurt of us to try following in his footsteps where we’re able. He’s not aiming to dictate to us what we should do, only telling us where he’s been and what’s worked for him. And it all makes sense. He’s a smart man, but more than that he’s been willing to be introspective and to cut the crap with himself so that he could change and grow and get to better place. I respect that.

He sends a lot of little posts for those subscribed to his newsletter, which I enjoy, but I also read what was available on his site as well as what he posted up on LinkedIn. Then I listened to his audiobook Choose Yourself and really appreciated it and plan to re-listen to it eventually. I’m not concerned with anything else he may be selling since he provides plenty of information freely and that stuff alone has proven valuable to me.

As a quick example since I reread this post of his today, “The Nine Ways To Destroy Your Life and Everyone Around You.” In it, one sentence in particular struck me as especially noteworthy today:

The easiest way to help yourself is to just don’t hurt yourself. Nobody can do this but you. This is the meaning of “choose yourself”. Nothing else.


Exactly. Nobody can stop me from hurting me but me. That is absolutely the truth. And I know I’ve read from him elsewhere his attitudes on alcohol, as someone who’s gotten in trouble going that route before along with messing with some other substance, that his stance is that it’s not wise to stay up late drinking in a depressant when you’re already depressed while hanging out with others doing the same who only wind up bringing you down. Feels like fun sometimes, but then other times it feels like a nightmare, and it’s one I’m putting on myself. I see this. Again and again and again, I see this.

Been thinking back the last couple of days on all the troubles I’ve had socially over the years, spanning back a decade or more, and how many involved alcohol and me getting upset too easily or winding up doing or saying something that upset others. Too many times to count. Thought about all the unnecessary, fruitless risks I’ve taken while under its influence and how lucky I am to still be in one piece and to not have done more damage to others than I’ve done. I’ve been reckless more times than I care to count, and yet back then it rarely seemed like such a major deal. Sometimes it even seemed funny, like I dodged a bullet and had a humorous story to share later on. But now, things have changed. Things have gotten more out of control after 13 years of engaging in this lifestyle. I’ve run off a lot of people, burnt a lot of bridges, and poisoned my own spirit against myself due to harboring so many regrets. When I felt upset at me I had a tendency to take it out on others, and the pain just paid forward. It’s no good.

James is right. Can’t improve your life under those conditions because you’re pretty much destined to keep fucking it up whether you consciously mean to or not. That’s what alcohol does — it lowers inhibitions. But some things deserve to be inhibited, like the full intensity of my anger issues, for example. That’s something that has to be worked on instead of numbed, seeing as how just because I am numb and can’t fully feel it doesn’t mean my words and actions aren’t still causing pain to others. And when I wake up and recall what I can of the night before, I’m left disturbed and further upset with myself time and time again. And on and on it goes. Drinking so as not to remember, then creating more problems, then drinking to get past them, then creating more…

James’s words couldn’t have come at a more essential time in my life. Very grateful to have had his words around to read and reflect on (and his podcasts too once I discovered them later on) during my hours of need. Yes, he aims to be funny and gets pretty repetitive with his stories (as if I don’t, ha) and focuses more on financials than I personally care for, but it’s the gist of what he’s saying that matters most.

Several of his articles and podcasts I’ve saved on my twitter feed for easy access as I continue on my little journey.

All in all, we do have the power to bless one another. Important to keep that in mind.

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