How To Suck At Life
[The image is of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. I love Arthur Miller’s quote: “The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”]
My life sucked when I was fired from a job and lost my home and got a divorce and my mom stopped talking to me.
It sucked when I broke up with another woman I really liked because I was afraid she wouldn’t like me if I went broke.
It sucked when I spent a year writing a novel, sent it out to 40 publishers, and all of them rejected me with form letters.
It sucked a few months ago when a business I invested heavily in totally failed.
It’s always going to suck. But occasionally it’s punctuated by moments of un-suckness.
It’s my fault when things go bad. Blaming is draining.
I let a lot of other people determine how to make my life suck. Here are some other ways to make life suck. You’re welcome:
Listen and do whatever people in authority tell you to do.
They say things like: “I have the experience. So I know better”. Or, “I’m older. When you get to my age you’ll know.”
Unless you are my daughters. Then you HAVE to do exactly what I tell you to do.
- EAT BAD
My dad ate cake and drank every night. Then he had a stroke and died. He figured medication would replace the “bad cake” thing.
Was it worth it? Did it work? He spent two years in a quasi-coma unable to move but his eyes open and staring at the ceiling.
I’m trying to eat good now. For 40 years I ate really bad. But now I have an experiment. For some reason my daughter eats ONLY good.
I don’t know why or how. She was born with it. And I can see how she glows. I want to glow like that.
Your cells are totally new every seven years. And what are the cells made out of? What you eat.
- CARE ABOUT YOUR LOOKS
When I was in high school I would cry every morning in front of the mirror. Sometimes I’d refuse to go to school because I looked so bad. I would deliberately cut my face while shaving so I had an excuse.
But if you eat well, if you’re creative, if you live large, then that’s what people see. I hope.
- NOT READ
I like to read menus. They are like works of art.
Today I read a book about how to hire people. I’m not hiring anyone. And I only read the first two chapters.
But it blew my mind. It gave me the advice of 20 billionaires and 30 CEOs (and parents hiring nannies) about a method of how to surround yourself with the best people.
I didn’t have to call those 50 people. That’s a lot of work!
And it only took me a half hour to read those chapters but I learned their entire model for determining who is good to have in their lives and in their work.
Tomorrow I’ll read another book.
- BE AN OUTLAW
Everybody who has ever done something has been a criminal of the past.
The image attached to this article is of Arthur Miller, the greatest playwright ever, with Marilyn Monroe, who has her own unique brand of greatness.
Arthur Miller said: “The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”
Marilyn Monroe once said, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Be embarrassed by what you do. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
Out of that messy soup of shame and imperfection will come art.
- DON’T GIVE BACK
My mother’s theory: my father was sad because I wouldn’t call him back. So he was so sad he had a stroke and died.
Maybe she is right. I don’t know. I don’t look back.
There’s nothing you can do about past regrets. And I don’t know if it balances anything by giving.
But every time you give, the seed sprouts. A small seed is hidden still by the dirt this year. And maybe next.
Eventually you have a garden, a forest. There’s a whistling sound that is all yours as the breeze blows past your unique forest.
- HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS
I started a business recently. I didn’t want to have any goals for it. I had one value: to be able to spread a message I believe in.
But other people had financial goals. I don’t blame them. People are supposed to do that.
We will blow through those goals by 800% this year. Life is unpredictable.
A few weeks ago CNBC called Claudia. Not me! Now she is doing a project with them. Very exciting. We couldn’t predict.
In a few weeks I start a brand new podcast with Stephen Dubner, who wrote Freakonomics. I could not have predicted. It starts the same day I have a new book coming out, “The Rich Employee”.
This sounds like bragging. Maybe it is. I’m just always astounded that when I have no expectations, they are constantly exceeded.
I can’t say it enough: when I have zero expectations, I am always surprised how they are exceeded.
No matter how down and low and disgusted with myself I am.
Health + Creativity + NO expectations.
In fact, that’s probably the only formula for success. A word that can’t be defined anyway.
- ASSUME SOMETHING IS BAD
Really bad things happen to me about once a month.
This gives me an opportunity to see how they bother me.
Emotions are felt on the body. When someone leaves you you don’t just feel sad, you feel your “heart broken”.
When something scares you, you don’t just feel fear, you might say, “I think I’m going to get sick in my stomach”.
When you are anxious, you don’t just feel stress. You feel like you have “a headache”.
When you look at the emotion in the body, it’s like you are dripping a single drop of water on it.
That doesn’t seem like a lot.
But over six million years, one drop of water at a time carved out the Grand Canyon: 277 miles long, 10 miles across, one mile deep.
One drop of water at a time.
Your emotions are much smaller than that. Just noticing them, one tear at a time, and they will begin to carve out what is underneath. It’s beautiful what is underneath.
- CARING WHAT PEOPLE THINK
There’s two million years of mammal history. There’s seven billion people on the planet.
When you create something totally new, you’ve just become a criminal of all the laws and beliefs of those two million years and seven billion people.
Someone is going to be unhappy. You broke a law. You are out-law.
You can’t create without being an outlaw.
When you’re the outlaw, people will chase you and want to hang you.
There’s not really a solution. I can’t say, “but then they will love you” because it’s not true and it will never be true.
But it’s fun. And exhilarating.
- NEW IS BAD
I was frustrated with my writing. I was blocked. There’s only so many ways I can write about going broke and how I came back.
This was the day the new Prince George was born. I had an idea. I went to a cafe. I changed my name.
I wrote in those hours, “The Autobiography of Prince George Alexander Louis Windsor.” He was three hours old.
I outsourced a cover. I uploaded to Amazon, and I published it as a 30 page book under a false name (well…it was an autobiography. So I used his name).
There are now seven reviews. One review is “rubbish”.
Within days a publisher even approached me who wanted to give me a contract to write ten more.
The next in the series was going to be “North by North West”, idea sex on the classic Cary Grant movie of the title and also it would be the autobiography of the newly born “North West”, son of Kanye and Kim.
Whenever stuck, get up. Find one thing fun to do. Do it. Play.
Did it make me feel better? While I was doing it, yes.
Afterwards…maybe. Who knows? Maybe it adds up.
To quote Marilyn Monroe, who knew it all. Or didn’t:
“It’s all make believe, isn’t it?”
More From James
Latest Podcast: Ep 124: The Book of Luke by 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell
Luther Campbell (once Luke Skywalker) of 2 Live, drove out of his way for the podcast and talk about what it’s like to work against the politicians and the money-making machine of the music industry.
Latest Ask Altucher: Ep 328: Who Are the Gatekeepers in Your Life?
Often, the biggest gatekeeper you’ll run up against is in your own mind. You believe you have to use gatekeepers to become successful.
Related Article: What Can You Do If You’re A Nobody?
Do you think it’s a waste of time for a spare nobody to write a book about their life so far?