The SLBC Reads Choose Yourself by James Altucher

This month’s Self-Love Book Club read, Choose Yourself by James Altucher, was a bit different than the books we've read in the past. It’s primarily career-focused, explaining from Altucher’s point of view how we entered the “Choose Yourself Era” and why it's imperative in the new economy that each person forge their own path by becoming an entrepreneur or defining their own position within the company they work for (an ‘entre-ployee’). He doesn’t say this is something we should do to be happier. It’s something we must do to flourish in the new economy. But it isn’t just about what we do for work, it’s how we live: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And it all comes down to how we feel about ourselves. It’s business as self-love. I enjoyed this book as a manifesto on taking control of your life and cultivating it with intention, one choice at a time. Choose Yourself is rich with antidotes from Altrucher’s own life, as someone who failed miserably, lost everything, and has now reached great levels of success throughout his life. He also shares lessons he’s learned from Woody Allen, Alex Day, a yogi who healed herself through movement, and The Beatles: all examples of people who chose themselves.

Here are my big takeaways from the book:

  •  The key to ‘true success’ and a happy life is cultivating health in all four of our bodies: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (and here Altucher takes a very secular approach to spirituality – it’s mostly about gratitude and staying in the present moment). Throughout the book he discusses “The Daily Practice,” which is a lifestyle that exercises each of these bodies daily to keep them in optimum health (you can find a good summary of the practice here).
  •  In every moment, we have the choice to choose ourselves. Say yes to the things that light you up, and get rid of everything else. From the book: “Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, ‘I did it again.’”
  •  Always do your best and then surrender the outcome. Be grateful for whatever happens.
  •  You have the power to save someone’s life each and every day. Even the smallest action towards another person can have an enormous impact that you may never know. Make this a daily practice and you will have cultivated the only superpower you’ll ever need.
  •  Procrastination can be a lesson, rather than just something to push through. From the book: “Procrastination is your body telling you that you need to back off a bit and think more about what you’re doing…Try to figure out why you’re procrastinating. Maybe you need to brainstorm more to improve an idea. Maybe the idea is no good. Maybe you need to delegate…Procrastination could also be a strong sign that you’re a perfectionist. That you are filled with shame issues. …Examine your procrastination from every side. It’s your body trying to tell you something. Listen to it.”
  •  The difference between those who make it and those who don’t is that the successful people keep going. We all start at zero but the successful person can fail a hundred times and they still try again. From the book: “The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic.”

I've made so many highlights throughout the book and took copious notes on what The Daily Practice might look like in my own life (because there's no way eating two meals a day is going to work for me!). I think this is another book that I'll be coming back to again and again.