Monday, March 12, 2012

How James Altucher Expects to Die

He writes:

I’m going to die. If I had to predict, it will be of heart disease in about forty years. That’s a guess. But why not guess. I know I won’t die in a car crash. Or a plane crash. I am hardly ever in those two vehicles. I won’t die of smoking related diseases. Perhaps I will die of some form of liver failure since whenever I have a toothache I take pain killers which affect the liver. I’m on the lookout for stroke since that’s how my father died. But heart disease seems like a natural killer for me.

So it’s about time I write my last will and testament to my kids. They already will have everything materially from me. That stuff doesn’t matter to me.

But here are some other things I hope I can give them:

Be kind. In thought, action, and speech. Action is obvious (e.g. don’t hit someone). Speech is a little harder (e.g. don’t gossip about someone behind their back). Thought is even harder but protects you from the other two.

Be honest.  All the time. Not even a  white lie. This is really hard. For instance, if I can’t go to meet with someone, it’s very hard to tell the truth but I do. I don’t say, “I don’t want to meet you”. Nor do I lie by saying the universally accepted lie, “I’m sick.” Usually I want to meet people. I like having friends. But I’m a bit of a shut-in. So I need to say what’s really on my mind, “I have to write today.” Or, “I have to prepare for XYZ project today.” And then it’s up to them to accept it. There’s other ways we lie. Sometimes there are big ways. But bit by bit I’ve been eliminating those big ways from my life.

Don’t be  possessive. I think I’m possessive. I don’t think I would like it if Claudia were to leave me, for instance. I’d probably try to force her to stay with me. I’m trying to practice not being possessive. Every day I throw something out, even things that for years I have loved. Like a good comic book or a book of stories I loved but can now easily get on Kindle. Or a shirt with holes that has easily passed its time. Gone.

Be content. I don’t have a billion dollars. And I don’t have zero. Sometimes I give up on opportunities to make a lot more money. I debate with myself: should I do it for my kids. Should I do it because…that’s what one does – make money in our society. But sometimes it’s good to stop for a bit. To be happy with exactly what you have today and nothing more or nothing less.

Surrender. You can’t control everything. You might get fired. You might get cheated on. You might win the lottery. You might not be an Olympic athlete. You might not have any good choices for lunch today. Sometimes you just need to surrender, “this is it. I trust that my subconscious/superconscious/the universe/spirit/whatever will take care of me like it always has.”  What happens when you can’t surrender? It’s that wall again. It needs a window if you want to see the world outside. Surrender builds the window. A sense of surrender to all the things in the world we don’t understand or can’t control is the highest form of good you can do. One way to practice surrender is by being grateful for what you do have. Every thought of gratitude opens a window.

Daily Practice. Do it.

Everything else is a fight. If you want money, you have to fight to get it. Then you have to fight to keep it. If you want people to talk about you, then don’t forget that they will also talk bad about you. If you want love forever, then don’t forget that love can be lost. And just like I am going to die, so will you, and whatever children you end up having.

Read the full column here.

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