10% Happier With Dan Harris: James Altucher – Master of Reinvention

Listen Here

James is… Many things
  • Author – Reinvent Yourself, Choose Yourself (highly recommend this)
  • Founded/co-founded more than 20 companies (Reset Inc., StockPickr)
  • Podcaster – check out some of these notes from his podcast with Ramit Sethi
  • Stand-up Comic
How and why did james start meditating?
  • He was 12 years old and wanted to “see girls naked”, he hoped to “astral project” outside of his body so he could “travel around his town to see naked girls”
  • His practice has refined itself over the years, and he hasn’t stopped meditating
  • “Meditation is practice for the other 23 hours of the day”
What benefits has james experienced?
  • Meditations has helped him realize when his intentions and when his brain are going in different directions
  • Meditation has allowed him to be better able to catch his thoughts
  • “The real me is different from the nonstop stream of thoughts going through my brain”
Making, and Losing a Fortune
  • James has made and lost fortunes throughout his life
  • He owned a company in the 90s that made websites for entertainment companies (like HBO), which he sold for lots of money but ended up spending almost all of it
    • He frequently took helicopters to Atlantic City from NYC to gamble
    • He went from millions to $143 in his bank account, leading to pretty bad depression
  • Meditation helped him cope with the ups and downs
    • Every day, he made sure he did at least 1 thing to move his life forward – exercise, have good relationships, be creative, meditate
    • Improve 1% every day
  • Really ask yourself – How would your life change if you had $100 million?
    • Your actual lifestyle wouldn’t change that much
    • “Society’s relationship with money has changed since we have access to so many of the things we want”
    • Dan – Past an income of $70,000, happiness does not increase in a meaningful way
How did James become a self-help writer?
  • James doesn’t like the phrase, “self-help”,  because he just views it as telling his story of how he’s solved the problems he’s encountered. People can make use of this however they want.
  • Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself are his best books, he’s written 18
  • He has learned that no matter what’s happening, at the end of the day, make sure you’ve done something to improve your mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and emotional health
  • “The best predictor of a successful tomorrow, is a successful today”
James’ Experiment with Minimalism
  • At one point James got rid of almost all of his possessions besides what would fit in a carry on bag. This included artwork, diplomas, dishes, clothes, photographs, etc.
  • At the end of throwing everything out, he owned only a kindle, laptop, phone, two outfits, a pair of shoes, and a tooth brush
  • He stayed in Airbnbs during this time, rather than renting
  • Why did he do this? – His lease was up on his apartment, and this minimalism thing was something he wanted to try
  • Everyone underestimates the amount of possessions they have. You don’t really need most of what you own.
  • If he bought something new, he would get rid of something he owned.
  • Check out the book Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
  • This experiment gave James a certain discipline he didn’t have before, and overall made him happier
Stand-Up Comedy
  • James has been doing it for the past year 3-6 times a week. He aims to go on stage the most difficult nights, so he can stretch his comfort zone more and learn.
  • James has learned humor is not the most important skill when beginning stand-up comedy
  • “One source of happiness is to always feel like you’re improving at something”
  • Being a good public speaker won’t do anything for your stand-up comedy skills, but the stand-up skills translate very well and make you an even better public speaker
  • Likability is more important than humor
    • No one is going to laugh at someone they don’t like, the audience doesn’t even know you, so your job as a stand-up comedian is to get the audience to like you as soon as possible
  • The audience can sense nervousness
What is James’ goal with his mediation practice?
  • He’s goalless
  • People tend to correlate happiness with success
  • With meditation, there is no way to rank yourself, the only “goal” is to do it, and observe the effects
Closing Thoughts
Bookmark

FREE! THE TOP 10 PODCASTS OF 2018, AND WHAT WE LEARNED

You'll also get our weekly newsletter with the takeaways from our curated list of top podcasts. Unsubscribe anytime.