How to Be Human.

Via on Aug 20, 2011

“James Altucher is a f’ing idiot on parade,” someone wrote on a message board the other day.

I don’t really like parades. But it got me to wonder about the psychology of people who take valuable time out of their day to write things like that. Not just about me but about anyone.

In general people get angry at me because I say in various ways that the world is not falling apart. That we’re not all going to die at the hands of some obscure European debt crisis or whatever the latest crisis of the week is in the media.

(this must be me at the parade)

Many people feel very strongly against some of my opinions. One woman wrote an article “James Altucher is an idiot” and then when she was getting zero views she emailed me the article so she’d have at least one view. To guarantee one view you can email me an article titled “James Altucher is an idiot” and I am sure to read it at the very least out of curiosity.

Other people replied on various message boards about what a F****ng loser I was, etc etc.

They seem to care more about my opinions than I do.

If my daughter comes to me and says, “I’m sad because I’d like to have more friends” then I would care about that. If my wife were sick I’d care about that. If I was sick I would VERY much care about that. I’m selfish. I’d care about my own sickness more than I’d care about my daughter’s ability to make friends.  I also care if I am writing interesting things. Or if I’m reading books that will make me a better writer. Of if I’m winning more at chess now that I’m taking chess lessons. I care about these things. If people write to me and ask for advice, I care a lot about the advice I give. But about the rest of the world, I don’t care at all. How big can one head be?

Why do I sometimes care about the stock market?

First off,  I can’t put this more bluntly: I’ve been ass-fucked repeatedly by the stock market for the past 15 years.

I’ve written before 10 reasons you shouldn’t buy stocks (even though I am very bullish on it). Nobody should. I give ten reasons but the main reason is: you buy a stock, then the media has people all over the place saying, “the end of the world is here so you better get out of stocks”, then everyone sells stocks, then the stock market goes straight up. Why does the media do that? The obvious reasons: fear and greed sell papers.

I’ve seen this happen every time, the exact same pattern: summer 1997, summer 1998, summer 1999, 2000-2002, summer 2004, summer 2005, late 2008/early 2009, summer 2010, and now summer 2011. Oh! I almost forgot: summer 1995 (“irrational exuberance”). But I wasn’t in the stock market then so I didn’t care.

October 1987 also. The market collapsed, everyone thought the world was over. FOOLED YOU! The market went straight up for years after the big crash.

But if I try to remind people of this simple pattern that happens over and over again, a lot of people get angry. I’m not upset at them. I don’t blame anyone for being angry at me. But I can tell you exactly why they were angry.

Here’s why:

  • -          Their fathers or mothers didn’t love them.
  • -          Other kids beat on them
  • -          Girls (or guys) didn’t like them or called them names.
  • -          Their friends backstabbed them.

So now they want to do the same to other people. So rather than working at their jobs they go from article to article and whatever message boards they can, then anonymously spew their hate.

Many of these people would like to kill themselves. I hate to say it but it’s true. I feel bad for them. How do I know they would like to kill themselves? How can I possibly be so psychic as to know this, particularly since in most cases they are anonymous so I don’t even know what sex, age, race, religion, location, they are.

I know this because they want the world to end. They keep blaming their problems on how bad the world is. How the world is falling apart. How we “borrowed too much” or how “the United States is going to fail” or how “Europe is going to take us down” or how “China is going to take over the world”. It’s an easy excuse so they don’t have to blame themselves on their own failures. They can blame me instead because I don’t think “China is going to take over the world”.

Two responses:

A) It’s Your Fault – blame yourself before others.

B) Most Things In Life Don’t Work Out – which is fine. That’s all of life.

I also could care less if the US borrowed too much. They can easily solve the problem: [Skip this if too boring. I'm bored already writing it].

  • A)     The US can forgive the $1.6 trillion in debt they have with THEMSELVES
  • B)      They can stop the four or five ongoing wars they have everywhere
  • C)      They can sell everything they own. Sell all the highways, the Universities, sell Washington DC (why do we even need a Department of Education if Education has gone straight down since that Department was created. Why do we need a legislative branch?)
  • D)  There’s six million private businesses. After you do A-C above, you’ll have money to incentivize every business to hire at least one more person. That would get us down to 3% unemployment, generate more revenues in taxes, etc.

There. Problem solved. The US is saved! Yay! Now onto the important part of the article.

The stock market is a window into the world’s depression. The world is manic-depressive. Right now, and maybe for the past decade, the world has been in the depressive cycle. The Internet bust, 9/11, Enron corruption, the financial crisis, the housing crisis, Europe crisis, unemployment. I get it. It’s been a hard decade. It’s been a hard decade for me also.  Before that it was in the manic cycle.

Animals ebb and flow with the world’s cycles. Humans rise above it and create their own cycles. I don’t know if I’m a human or an animal (I know, humans are a subset of animals, but I’m making a point). I’m a little bit of both. I hate to see the world depressed so I try to do things (go on TV, write articles, whatever) to convince people the world is not over. But it’s pretty pointless. People believe what they will because of that severe beating they had when they were nine that they could never shake themselves from.

How to be Human?

-          Step 1 is easy. Ignore the news.  The media is for animals.

-          Don’t watch the day to the day of the stock market.  You don’t have to be depressed when the world is depressed.

-          Do the Daily Practice. It’s the only way I’ve ever been able to rise above animal and be human. I’ve lied, cheated, stolen, and killed and finally it all stopped when I decided to focus on my insides instead of the outside. That’s how you train your body and mind to get over the beatings as a kid, the humiliation you’ve suffered, the lack of love you might’ve had to deal with. In my opinion (take it for what it’s worth), it’s the only way.

-          Don’t engage with crappy people. The woman who emailed me her fabulous article: “James Altucher is an Idiot” –  I actually responded to her email. I didn’t even follow my own advice. Then, finally,  I stopped responding to her on her four responses to me. It’s hard to follow good advice. If everyone followed good advice we’d all be superheroes and be flying around and using our x-ray vision to see naked people everywhere. I wish I followed my own advice every day. But it’s hard. Sometimes you have to modify it to fit your own needs and circumstances. Sometimes you have to modify every day.

-          Be creative every day. You can use these tips. Creativity connects more and more of the neurons in your brain to each other. Neurons that animals never connect up. If you are too busy with work, child raising, business-starting, etc don’t use that as an excuse. You can be creative in little, tiny ways. Make your kids laugh. Do something the exact opposite of what you would normally do at work. Try standing on your head at the busstop. Whatever.

-          The last three items are the most important. If you do those then the first two come naturally. If the above three items are too hard then modify them to suit your own purposes. For instance, if you can’t meditate every day (I can’t) then at least when you wake up say to the sky “what the hell do you want me to do today? I’m yours!” In other words, be gentle, humble, and surrender.

Don’t be an animal anymore. Planet of the Apes isn’t coming true. Be nice to other people. Become a human.

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9 Responses to “How to Be Human.”

  1. Thank you so much for this article. It's been hard to avoid being freaked out by the grim economic and social unrest new feeds these last few years. I want desperately to see some light at the end of the tunnel … mainly for my 2 children … so that they can grow up with parents who are optimistic and creative … rather than depressed fatalists. The yoga, and all the super nice, always cheerful yoga instructors at our shala, help A LOT! Its encouraging when someone with your expertise can express such an optimistic outlook on navigating the economic/political/media influences that bombard us. Namaste!

  2. Jason says:

    James Alutcher is a BRILLIANT idiot.

    Spot on…and thank you for saving the world one day and word @ a time!

  3. Jason says:

    Altucher…

    Sorry. Damn auto-correct.

    Maybe I should I take it all back. The world is ending and being overrun by machines! LOL

  4. Jen says:

    Amen!
    My response when someone starts "did you see the <insert world ending financial/ political reference> ?" I kindly retort "nope, but the world is still turning"

  5. jeff says:

    James, Im really loving what you had to say here. I think you have tapped into so many elements to what people are trying to wrap their heads around when it comes to the things in our world that keep us in turmoil. Thanks for the clarity and thoughtful insights. Jeff

  6. tim says:

    Thanks for another fantastic article. I enjoy reading your posts here and on your website. Keep up the good work!

  7. Katherine says:

    you are pushing the Awesome Button for me!! It's kind of like the Easy Button, but better, because it's awesome.
    thank you.

  8. Jean LeBlanc says:

    James Altucher is definitely not an idiot.

    On an entirely unrelated subject, how do you pronounce your name?

  9. warriorsaint says:

    Finally- a new James A post! I read your advise on dealing with crappy people every day for a week until I finally got it.

    I've always been perplexed by all the anger people post. It always seemed rather silly to me.

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