Practicing wellness of body, mind, heart, and spirit: James Altucher’s Daily Practice

One of my favorite discoveries in the blogging world is James Altucher. He’s a good prolific writer, inventive, irreverent, smart, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, and he comes across as a regular person who has learned from his mistakes.

I get the impression that he’s done really, really well in business, lost it all, started over, more than once. HBO, hedge funds, start-ups, investments, Wall Street, whatever. I don’t really know that world, but I imagine his blog reaches a lot of people in the financial world.

He’s also experienced some relationship ups and downs and a marriage that didn’t work out, and now he is married to Claudia Altucher, a yoga teacher. He practices yoga.

What impresses me most in his writing is that he combines his financial background with amazingly sensible wisdom about how to live life well. I follow him on Twitter and Facebook and look forward to reading his blog posts.

You can check out his blog here: The Altucher Confidential: Ideas for a World Out of Balance.

The reason I’m writing about him here on my blog is because he advocates doing something he calls The Daily Practice, which he calls

a simple tool to improve, inspire, and unlock greatness.

It’s pure genius and truly simple. He has three big goals in life:

  • He wants to be happy.
  • He wants to eradicate unhappiness in his life.
  • He wants every day to be as smooth as possible. No hassles.

If you’d like to achieve those goals in your life, read on.

James discovered that every time he hit a low point in life, after a major failure, feeling unhappy and hassled, he did something every day for himself in four areas that helped move him closer to the three big goals. You can do this too:

  1. Do something physical for yourself to get and keep yourself in good shape. He mentions doing yoga every day and exercising vigorously enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes. Being healthy is a prerequisite for being happy, and exercise also helps calm your mind. You get to choose how you want to do this.
  2. Do something emotionally good for yourself. He mentions that if someone is a drag on you, cut them out or minimize your time with them, and if they lift you up, spend more time with them. He mentions being honest without being hurtful and never doing anything you don’t want to do—he doesn’t go to weddings.
  3. Do something to stimulate yourself mentally. He suggests thinking of 10 businesses you can start from home or listing every productive thing you did yesterday. You could learn a foreign language in daily sessions, memorize a song, or do a crossword puzzle, whatever works for you. Altucher carries around waiter pads to write down his ideas.
  4. Practice something spiritual, which can include praying, meditating, being grateful, forgiving, or studying a spiritually uplifting text. I like this suggestion: You can also meditate for 15 seconds by really visualizing what it would be like meditate for 60 minutes. 

Altucher says every time he has hit a low point and then started doing things in these four areas every day, his life would improve. He’d begin to feel lucky. Ideas would flow, he’d start executing them, and people would help him. People would smile at him.

He calls this improving the internal fire. I think that concept is from yoga, but you get the picture. Living fully, in joy, lit from within.

I get that this is a great practice! And I want to think that I already do this, but you know what? I don’t keep track of what I do every day, and I haven’t tied my behavioral choices to three big goals. I have not made a commitment to work on myself daily in specific ways in these four areas.

Well, James has thought of that, and he has set up a website called The Daily Practice where you can set up your own activities in the four categories (plus a new fifth one, Fun) as well as how often you want to do them, and track your actual behavior.

It’s in beta right now, but I’m trying it out, and so far everything seems to work.

Also, your big three goals might be a little different. Who doesn’t want happiness? But I actually don’t mind a few occasional not-too-major hassles because they challenge me to grow, and that gives me something to write about. So my third goal is to spread the wellness and joy to others.

If you’d like to set up physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and fun challenges for yourself and track your activity using The Daily Practice, go to and set yourself up! It’s also a Facebook app, but you don’t have to share your postings. In fact, if you’re my friend, please don’t. TMI. Tell me your results, instead.

Today I have done a tarot reading and watched a fun movie (fun), meditated for 15 minutes and forgave someone I had problems with (spiritual), connected with two people who lift me up (emotional), read something stimulating (mental), and did sun salutations and slept well (physical).

Thanks, James!

How to bounce back

Sometimes in life, things are going well, and then something happens, and before you know it, you’ve gotten off track. Unpleasant surprises having to do with work, love, friendship, money, health, family, whatever we care about, can put us into an experience of suffering (aka “pain with a story”).

So what do you do to get back on track? Here’s what works for me:

  1. Realize it’s a process and there’s probably not an instant fix. Accept that you’re off track instead of pretending that everything is fine. Relax into it.
  2. Take care of your health. Go to bed and wake at the regular times. Eat healthy food, and not too much comfort food. Drink plenty of water. Exercise in whatever form you enjoy. Dance, run, do yoga, shadow-box. Move your body. A little sweat won’t hurt a bit, either. If you need inspiration, listen to this and try some of James Brown’s moves. You know he taught Michael Jackson how to dance:
  3. Let your emotions flow instead of suppressing them. Movement can help with this too. Walk around and make nonsense noises and start moving how you feel. Waaahhhhh! Grrrrrrr! Listen to music that helps you cry if tears feel blocked — this music can help:
     If you don’t feel safe expressing your feelings to another human being, write them out. Or get curious — what is the name of the emotion? Where in your body are you feeling it? How would your body like to move with this emotion? If you could dance it or see it dancing, what would that be like? What kind of music would it be dancing to? What color is it?
  4. Do something that will really make you feel better. There are tons of techniques that can be helpful. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) works for a lot of people. Now, this may seem crazy, but an even simpler technique for restoring emotional equilibrium is to slowly toss a small ball from hand to hand. While tossing it, slowly look toward the ceiling, close your eyes, and return your head to normal position. (It will take some practice to do this.) If you drop the ball, pick it up and start over (it’s easiest to do over a bed or sofa). It induces the feeling of being centered. Even 2 minutes of it shifts me. For theory and details on this, see Mind Juggling on Nelson Zink’s awesome website Navaching.
  5. Set boundaries that work for you. They don’t have to be permanent, but if you need a break from something that drains your energy, just take one. You being drained contributes to no one’s well-being. One of my favorite films of all time is Office Space. Make like Peter and don’t give a damn. You don’t have to drink the Kool-Aid. Savor your own mojo, and don’t give it away to the unappreciative.
  6. Think happy thoughts, imagine happy pictures, feel the good experiences you’ve had again. Do you know someone who has a radiant smile? Imagine their wonderful face. Has someone been particularly kind to you? Remember that feeling. What words do you like to hear? “Everything is going to be all right” is very soothing. Really, who the hell knows how everything is going to be, but saying that to yourself can feel comforting. Also, I have a big envelope full of cards, letters, and photos that people have given me over the past few years. When I pull that out and look through it, I feel reconnected with the good will of these people who’ve cared enough about me to make that effort. (Reminds me to make more of an effort myself toward that end.)
  7. Do something spiritual. Could be meditation, an act of kindness, reading spiritual books or listening to audiotapes, feeling gratitude, forgiving those who’ve hurt you. Even laughing, because laughter is a gift from the gods. Here’s James Altucher’s hilarious blog post on 60 second meditations. (I love washing dishes.)

This has been my favorite blog post to write, because I wrote it to help myself bounce back. So I guess 8. would be to write up your own methods of bouncing back, testing each step.

Before you know it, you’ve returned to your healthy self.

I heart James Altucher on how to get unstuck

How To Break Free From Being Stuck Altucher Confidential.

James Altucher is one of my blogging heroes. He’s fun, keeps it alive, is a great writer.

Click the link to read his advice on getting unstuck.

Reiki today, a thermal palms massage (with oatmeal!) tomorrow, acro-yoga this weekend…life is good. And unstuck.

Looking for a reason to quit your job?

Found this article — 10 More Reasons You Need to Quit Your Job Right Now! — in, you guessed it, Elephant Journal, and have been reading and clicking all the links. Very amusing, fresh, and insightful, James Altucher!

He busts the mortgage excuse, the I’ve-got-to-send-my-kids-to-college myth, and asks you to consider your boss, your coworkers, the actual work, the economy, fear, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life?, and the loss of creativity from sticking to a job you don’t really, really love for too long.

Everybody does what they need to do. I’m just sayin’, sometimes it’s time to leave. The life you save may be your own.

Excerpts from some of the links in the article follow. This one is about why owning your own home might not be so great:

Let’s spell out very clearly why the myth of homeownership became religion in the United States. It’s because corporations didn’t want their employees to have many job choices. So they encouraged them to own homes. So they can’t move away and get new jobs.

On how to be lucky:

All you need to do, minimally, is exercise enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes. So about 20-30 minutes worth of exercise a day. This is not to get “ripped” or “shredded”. But just to be healthy. You can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy. Also, spending this time helps your mind better deal with its daily anxieties. If you can breathe easy when your body is in pain then its easier to breathe during difficult situations.

If someone is a drag on me, I cut them out. If someone lifts me up, I bring them closer. Nobody is sacred here. When the plane is going down, put the oxygen mask on your face first. Family, friends, people I love – I always try to be there for them and help. But I don’t get close to anyone bringing me down. This rule can’t be broken. Energy leaks out of you if someone is draining you. And I never owe anyone an explanation. Explaining is draining.

I feel that most people don’t like the word “spiritual”. They think it means “god”. Or “religion”. But it doesn’t.  I don’t know what it means actually. But I feel like I have a spiritual practice when I do one of the following: [pray, meditate, be grateful, forgive, and study].

What to do if you get fired:

Find your “customers.” Treat yourself like a one-man business. Make a list of customers (i.e. places or people you might want to work with). Then come up with a list of 10 ideas for each customer/place you might want to work. Ideas that can make them money. This way you keep your idea muscle intact.  Don’t let your idea muscle atrophy! Pitch your ideas to that customer if you can. If you can’t, move onto the next customer.

Make a list of the people you’ve worked with over the past ten years that you are grateful you worked with. Email them and tell them why you were grateful you worked with them. Ask them sincerely how they are doing.

About being an entrepreneur:

 For me, being an “entrepreneur” doesn’t mean starting the next “Facebook”. Or even starting any business at all. It means finding the challenges you have in your life, and determining creative ways to overcome those challenges.

If you are offering a service, call it a product. Oracle did it. They claimed they had a database. But if you “bought” their database they would send in a team of consultants to help you “install” the database to fit your needs. In other words, for the first several years of their existence, they claimed to have a product but they really were a consulting company. Don’t forget this story. Products are valued higher than services.

Don’t listen to the doom and gloomers that are hogging the TV screen trying to tell you the world is over. They just want you to be scared so they can scoop up all the money.