by James Altucher: What
To Do When She Leaves You
I missed investing
in Google. I missed investing
in Foursquare. I made fun of the guy who started Lycos. I missed,
I lost, I suffered, I cried. I could’ve started other businesses
instead of the ones I did. I could’ve accepted job offers instead
of lying in my hammock crying about failures. How much time have
I wasted thinking of just nothing but crap. Probably years.
I want to be
productive, healthy, and happy.When you spend even two minutes mentally
debating the worst people in your life (as I did the first two minutes
after I woke up today) those two minutes add up. Throughout the
day, these thoughts add up until you ask yourself at the end of
the day, “What happened?” and you have no answer.
“well I played too many games. Or I gossiped too much at the
water cooler.” But nobody says, “I spent too many fragmented
minutes and seconds thinking thoughts of pessimism or jealousy.
Better to not
have 80% of my thoughts (or more on some days!) be “not useful”.
So one practice is to label thoughts even more specifically. You
pretend your brain is a giant Gmail inbox. Here are nine filters
you can use to get rid of the negative thoughts.
of thoughts that will prevent you from succeeding at your business
or in your job.
thoughts: For instance, judging myself too harshly. Or assuming
I’m no good at something so I shouldn’t even try. Or assuming
I’m destined to be an unhealthy old man. These are all negative
thoughts. How do I know I can label them as “negative thoughts”?
As opposed to negative reality? Because they have no basis in fact.
I don’t know how I will be as an old man. And if I judge someone
too harshly before I even know them – what’s the point?
It’s one thing if they reach into my pocket and try to take
my wallet. Then I can judge them: “this person steals things”
but until then, why judge? And yet I do. What a waste!
give a talk, thinking that I’m going to do horribly despite
the fact that I’ve prepared well and it’s a friendly crowd,
etc. All the evidence suggests that my negative thought is not based
in reality and yet I’ll still think it. When I ran a fund of
hedge funds I always found myself waking up at three in the morning
thinking some fund was stealing from me. I was paranoid about this.
So paranoid I eventually had to shut the fund of funds down. But
I should’ve just labeled these thoughts “negative”
or “not useful” and gone back to sleep.
My vice thoughts start when I wake up. Who made me angry the day
before? Do I look good in the mirror? Or when I look at the below
picture of Larry Page (referred to as “human being #1”
in my house) I get envious. Or am I constantly thinking of the waffles
I’m going to eat at breakfast in the city later? That might
be a fun thought (just like constantly thinking about sex) but it’s
not necessarily one that will bring me closer to happiness or success.
I can enjoy the waffle when I eat it. I can enjoy sex when I’m
doing it with someone I love. I don’t have to think of it every
second of the day.
We spend our first few years of life being programmed by commercialism
into thinking that some things are important: getting a college
degree, owning a home, having as many people as possible love you
(fame), getting attached to certain things (like the Dr. McCoy doll
I have sitting right next to my computer that nobody better mess
with), getting a private plane, having sex with as many people as
possible. These thoughts of what a perfect life would be like are
binding. What if you don’t get the college degree, or own the
home, or get the yacht in the Mediterranean. Will you feel shame?
Will you panic? How come?
is a form of bondage. We want things to be “just right”
or else we are unhappy. We become ashamed. Why, when I had $10mm,
did I want $100mm?
I had enough to live forever. And yet, some feeling inside of me
thought I was imperfect, unloved, not good enough, unless I had
that $100mm. And
then, of course, I lost it all. And I really did feel shame. For
years! Bondage thoughts are not only not useful, they are damaging.
There’s that Sting song, “if you love someone, set
them free.” A lot of people love others but don’t want
the other to be free. They say, “I love you” but the love
is tainted with need, with desire, with jealousy. How do you catch
yourself when you feel this less pure form of love. Jealousy is
like this also. Why did this friend sell his business for $80 million
and I’m still working 29 hours a day. Or why did this other
friend cash out when he was just a low-level employee of Facebook?
It’s hard. But it’s still a type of thought that will
bring you down, force you to live a lesser life than the person
you were meant to be. When you think you have the purest motives,
take a second to check yourself – what are your ulterior motives.
What would happen if you don’t get what you want?
We just had the Thanksgiving holidays. This gives rise to a
lot of pleasurable thoughts. But also painful ones. Often we’re
put together with family and friends that bring back memories. Often
painful memories that lead to anger, that lead to provoking. We
want all the thoughts to be pleasurable. Mmmm, turkey, stuffing,
cake, loving family. But it doesn’t work out that way. We remember
the past, we remember the things that were done to us. Everyone
shouts hysterically, confusing it with historically. I went to a
Thanksgiving once where one sister threw coffee on another sister.
What started out as pleasurable thoughts (“MMM, thanksgiving!”)
quickly turned painful. This Thanksgiving I spent the entire day
on a plane. It was my best Thanksgiving ever!
much to say: I’m not going to think these painful thoughts.
We’re not Jesus. But for me, just being aware that I’m
about to go into a situation where painful thoughts might occur,
helps me to label them and filter them when they come up. I hope.