by James Altucher: My
Last Death Threat in 2011
wish the mother ship would land and take me home. I look in the
sky. Where is the ship, with the beautiful aliens. The ones I belong
with. Why did they leave me here on this pathetic planet. Did they
really want me to grow old and die here?
In the past
15 years I was probably suicidal on at least three different occasions.
How would I kill myself? Who knows. I googled it. It’s hard
to actually find a technique that works. Try googling “I want
to die”. You’ll just end up back on this blog. Which won’t
tell you how to die. Because there is no good technique. Trust me.
But all of
those moments had several things in common.
take the pain. I didn’t want to die. I
wanted the pain to die. I had gone from a high to a low (being
constantly at a low doesn’t do it. You have to go from a high
to a low to experience the sense of loss) and when I thought the
only way my kids would be happy is if they were able to cash in
my life insurance policy. That’s how screwed up I was.
And, the irony
is, it’s at exactly these moments that its hardest to have
We all have
moments when it seems like everything is going wrong. It’s
unavoidable. A relationship turns sour. A job is lost. A business
goes down in flames. You are robbed. You feel lonely. And so on.
The list of possible calamities that are in store for us simply
because we are human is awesome and overwhelming.
When I had
my first kid I was very sad about this. I looked at this tiny baby
and all I could think about was, “how will I protect her when
she’s feeling alone”. “how will I protect her when
she’s rejected”. “How will I protect her when the
things she thinks she’s most in control of go horribly astray.”
no answer. I
can’t protect her.
No matter what
you do right now, things might totally suck. Its that enormous leap
between your lowest moments and the moments that you think will
make you happy that faith is required.
are already at the best, that leap is tiny or non-existent.
So you don’t need any faith at those moments. Or faith is too
when things are at their worst that you need “faith” the
most. I put it in quotes because we still haven’t defined it.
some kinds of faith.
in God. In other words, a higher power that if you pay attention
to in some way (prayer, gratitude, humility, ethical behavior,
etc) then rewards are waiting for you.
in a creative power within you. Your subconscious. The idea
being that you put in the work, you do whatever you can in the
time you have, and then you say, “Ok, I’ve done it all.
Now you have to do something.” In other words, you give up.
To yourself, to God, to the universe, whatever.
For instance, if you’ve always succeeded before doing a certain
formula (for instance, for me, “the daily practice”
I recommend) and things are down now, knowing that if I just apply
that formula then once again things will go well.
kinds of faith. Faith in Jesus, faith in Buddha, or the Tao,
or Yoga, or a spiritual guide, or a higher power, all fit into
the above faiths.
of all of these faiths is that they relieve stress. Hard work and
anxiety suffers from the law of diminishing returns. Being anxious
about something 20 hours a day probably won’t do much more
for you than being anxious about it for 1 hour a day. Working for
10 straight hours probably won’t accomplish more than working
for 3 super-productive hours.
One time I
was seeing a therapist. He said, “what can I do to help you.
What can relieve your stress.”
I said, “the
only thing that will relieve my stress right now is if you immediately
give me a million dollars.”
That, of course,
didn’t happen. I had to develop other methods for relieving
stress. In fact, I became an expert at having faith at the critical
moments only because I had so many of them.
what you should try to do regardless of whatever faith you subscribe
to. The key is to work hard but to also cultivate a feeling of surrender.
You need to give the universe space to do its thing for you. There’s
evidence that working hard for 90 minutes is about all we can do
if we want to be at peak productivity. Then taking a break.