It’s hard to live. To digest. To get a job. To find someone to love. To find someone who loves you back.
People make a lot of money trying to solve all of the above problems. They sell packages for $19.95 a month and then people like me forget to unsubscribe.
At the end of the day we are all trying to fight loneliness. Mastery fights loneliness. So does finding someone to love. So does having a family and having friends.
My head hurts sometimes in the morning. I think of people who are gone from my life. The way water comes onto the beach for a second but then goes back into the ocean. Goodbye, I miss you. But if I chase after you I will drown.
On Facebook everyone seems happy. Like the world had a party and didn’t invite me. I was available!
“Bob” doesn’t speak to me anymore because I’m anti-war. Twenty years of friendship down the drain. I argued with him once on GChat all night.
I was sure he’d see things my way. It hurt my head. My head was crying.
Claudia came down. She looked good in her nightgown. She was like, “you have to get to sleep” and I was like, “but we’ve been friends for over twenty years!”
My shoulders scrunched together. My eyes squinting. Ready to type.
She said, “no you haven’t been” and turned around and went back to sleep.
Well… I’m right.
Every day there’s SOMETHING. Something I’m afraid of. Someone I’m worried for. Someone who does me wrong. Someone who is stabbing me in the back.
I can’t cure them. The zombie army is always there. Do you ever wonder why even the President is afraid of the zombie army in all of the movies? Even though they are dead and he is alive?
If I don’t cure myself, the day will get infected. The sky will gush blood. My brain will get knifed.
I am just going to straight out tell you my cure. No fooling around. No $19.95. Keep your money.
This is what I do. And I do it all day long every day, every hour, right now. It works for me and for these moments everything shimmers like the sun hitting a patch of water. And when I don’t do it, I fall and it hurts.
A. ADMIT IT.
There’s nothing I can do. It’s nobody’s fault. People are just jerks sometimes.Or sometimes I’m a jerk. Or sometimes shitty things happen. Sometimes there’s a hurricane I can’t control. Sometimes I’m worried about a future that will never come true. A monster from another dimension.
I don’t know.
Just admit it. Pain exists. And if it’s outside, then it’s really just a roadmap to your inside. A GPS to some inner pain.
I feel it in my stomach, head, chest. Sometimes my chest squeezes shut and I hold my head and think I’m crazy. She’s right. I’m right. She’s right. I’m right. Nobody’s right. I miss her. I miss him. I’m afraid.
If you start thinking someone (anyone) is right, that’s the beginning of mental illness.
All I know is my head hurts. Just admit it. I miss you and I suffer.
Exercise: where in your body can you feel any emotional or mental pain right now. Think of the zombies in your life and feel the pain…where?
B ) LIST IT.
What hurts? Maybe I feel lonely. Maybe my ego was hurt because someone sent a hurtful email. Maybe someone was wrong about me and I’m frustrated I can never correct them.
Let me explain! But explaining is draining.
If you’re not choosing, you’re excusing.
Maybe I want more money. Or love. Or safety and I’m afraid I won’t get it. Or I’m scared for someone. Worried. Are they ok? Just admit it. List it. This is the chance to be honest. To your self.
What do you crave?
Exercise: connect the pain with something in the world that is bothering you. A specific insult. A lingering stress. A feeling of being “stuck”. All of these things are in your head, the wired into your body. A complicated piece of bio-emotional machinery.
C) STOP IT.
This takes practice. I have to say to myself, “This is not a useful thought”. Thought thought thought…not useful thought.
I breathe, I’m alive!
I’m getting a little better at it. The ratio of useful thoughts to not useful. Try labeling each thought.
Sometimes I put question marks at the ends of all my sentences instead of exclamation points. I deliberately confuse myself. What?
When you question, you explore instead of conclude. Life becomes a mystery instead of an output to your input.
The key is just to stop for a second. Stop the obsessive treadmill. Get off the merry go round. Get out of the gravitational pull of your obsession.
Useful / not useful.
Then breathe so you can take a step back for:
D) I’ve written a billion times about the daily practice.
Some people ask me, if I want to be successful, which leg of it should I focus on. The answer: no legs. The chair will fall if you think that way. It’s not about success, it’s about survival.
It’s about the tiny nicks in the stone to make the sculpture.
It’s every second taking a step back and just triple-checking, am I healthy:
- Physically: Did I eat well, sleep well, exercise
- Emotionally: Am I surrounding myself with people I love, who love me, who inspire me. Can I love myself even when lonely or angry?
- Mentally: Am I exercising my idea muscle, writing down ten ideas a day, reading, becoming an idea machine. REPEAT: BECOME AN IDEA MACHINE
- Spiritually: Did I say “Thanks” to someone today. Did I surrender to everything in the world that I can’t control? And then, once again: “thanks”.
Thanks. Thank you for reading this.
That’s the cure for the emotional flu. Don’t worry if you are “off”. Just start now. This is how I take care of myself. I’m going to do it right now. Then later today.
Then when I talk to you, I might do it again.
I might still get lonely, or angry, or sad, worried, or jealous. I might still regret. Or get anxious. That’s what a human body does.
The blackness is always there. But I take the cure and a slice of rainbow cuts through. Hi!
There’s an infinity before we are born. An infinity after we live. We’re jumping between those two infinite black mountains and we’ll die if we fall. We have to create our luck every second.
But if we take care of ourselves, we grow wings. The mist of the clouds open like fluffy lips. And for this briefest moment of life, I can fly. I can kiss.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.