”If you don’t make courageous choices for yourself, no one else will.”
I first heard about the book Choose Yourself by James Altucher via the song of the same name by Starslinger that I wrote about earlier this year. During some travel time last month I had two whole plane rides without kids (!), and I read the whole thing. After the first 50 or so pages, I didn’t expect to like the author or the book much, but the latter grew on me.
Here are three ideas/notes that stood out when I finally sat down to review. These notes are taken out of context from the book and are expanded on greatly there, so if they peak your interest at all, that might be a good sign that you should read it.
- “Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.” This is something I struggle with. It’s ok to not have a clear idea about why you were placed on the Earth. Event better, it’s ridiculous to think that you should have figured it out by now. Age is also not an excuse to start something new. As an example (and there are a lot of examples): “One of my favorite writers of all time, Stan Lee, created the entire universe for which he is known—the Marvel Universe—when he was forty-four, inventing Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and others along the way.”
- “The only way to create value for yourself is to create value for others.” Not only is it personally fulfilling to help others and just makes you feel good, but you’ll build stronger relationships and a super-strong network over time. It’s a theme that comes up in any personal development book, podcast, or article: make magic happen for others and you won’t be able to help but make magic happen for yourself.
- “[To be spiritual] All you have to do is stay in the present. When you catch yourself upset about the past or worried about the future, say to yourself, “Ah, I’m time traveling,” then STOP. That’s what meditation is. That’s what being “spiritual” means: not time traveling. Don’t believe anyone who says it isn’t. And you can practice it all day.” Stay present by thinking of people you are grateful for now (not in the past), surrendering to the fact that you can’t control how others act or what the results of most things will be. This is Jame’s basis of spirituality, and it’s radical as that word is so misused. You can do your best with the preparation, but “the food will taste how it will.”
This is a wide-ranging book of ideas centered around the goal of getting the reader to take action to be a better person. The author might not be for everyone (I’m still not sure I’d want to have a beer with him, but I could be wrong), and sure, there might be plenty of flaws you can point to, but even if the book succeeds just a little in that goal it would be worth the time.
This was worth it.