I gave my 11 year old daughter important advice the other day: there’s no painless way to kill yourself.

“What about with a gun?” she said.

I told her about a friend of mine who shot himself in the mouth. He put the gun in his mouth and pointed upwards towards the brain.

He missed.

He shot off half his face, he went blind in one eye, and he is now in a wheelchair.

If you type in “I Want to Die” into google, my website is the first result.

My first business I sold for $15 million. We built websites for entertainment companies. Bad Boy Records, Miramax, Time Warner, HBO, Sony, Disney, Loud Records, Interscope, on and on. Oh, and Con Edison.

Mobb Deep would hang out in my office. Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails would stop by. RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan would want to play chess. We even made a website for a brothel in Nevada.

Then I saw that kids in junior high school were learning HTML. So I sold the business.

I bought an apartment for millions. I rebuilt it. Feng Shui! I bought art. I played a lot of poker. I began investing in companies. A million here. A few hundred thousand there.

Then I started more companies. Then I bought more things. Then I became an addict. The worst kind of addict.

From June 2000 until September, 2001 I probably lost $1 million a month.

I couldn’t stop. I wanted to get back up to the peak.

I wanted to be loved. I wanted to have $100 million so people would love me.

Writing this now I even feel like slitting my wrists and stomach. I have 2 kids.

I felt like I was going to die. That zero equals death. I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been.

I lost all my friends. Nobody returned calls. I would go to the ATM machine – from $15 million to $143 left.

There were no jobs, There was nothing.

One weekend when I had $0 left in my bank account I called my parents to borrow money but they said “no”. “College was enough” they told me, even though I had ended up paying for every dime of college. That was the last time I spoke to my dad, who had a stroke six months later.

I tried meditation to calm down but it didn’t work. I never slept. I lost 30 lbs. I’m 5’9″. I went from 160 to 130. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t move. I stopped having ideas. I cried every day.

There was never a moment when I didn’t feel sick. I had let my kids down. I would die and they would never remember me.

We moved 80 miles north of NYC with the tiny bit of money we took out of our apartment after being forced to sell at a million dollar loss.

I couldn’t leave the house for three months. I was depressed. I gained back all my weight and then another 30 lbs.

Finally I had to either die or feed my family. I was forced to choose myself.

– I started to exercise every day. I started to eat better. One item for breakfast. A healthy lunch. Tiny dinner. No snacks.
– I started to sleep 9 hours a day.
– I started to only be around people who loved and supported me. I broke off all ties with anyone who I felt bad to be around.
– I wrote down ideas every day of articles I could write and about businesses I could start. Bit by bit I started to get paid to write. If you don’t exercise the idea muscle it atrophies.
– I decided I wanted to help people every day and be honest every day. I was grateful for my daughters. I was grateful for what I had. I didn’t fight reality or regret. This was my reality and I had to make the best of it.
– Every day I came up with ideas for new businesses. I had a waiter’s pad. I would go to a cafe at 6 in the morning with about 4 books and read for an hour or two and then start writing down ideas for new businesses, articles, etc.
– I started a hedge fund. I started a fund of hedge funds. I started a newsletter. I did deals. I made introductions every day, expanding my brand new network from scratch. At least 5 introductions a day.
– I got involved in a mental health company I sold for $41 million.
– I started a website, Stockpickr! which got millions of unique users. I found advertising for it. I sold it to
– I had made millions again from scratch.

Then I stopped using the fundamental techniques I described above. Every time I’ve lost money it’s because I squandered my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

I was really bad. I did everything you should not do. I was like an addict. Picture the worst abuses. That was me. Again.

And then I lost it all again. Everything. Agh!

I had to start over. I couldn’t even believe I had to start from scratch atgain.

Every day without fail I focus on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. And it’s worked. I hope. I hope I don’t squander again.

People say it’s not about the end, it’s about the journey.

This is total BS.

It’s not about the journey and it never was.

It’s about right now.

Right now is the only place you’ll ever be. Choose yourself not to waste it.



  1. Capitalistic Says:

    “It’s about right now.” Agreed…but right now is part of the journey…

  2. Laura Gaunt Says:

    I always love your posts – thank you!

  3. Gaël Blanchemain Says:

    There’s not even a now, yet that’s all we have, I guess. Your post soothed me, for some reason.

    • James Altucher Says:

      Yes, it’s all we have. When we say “there’s not even a now” it might be true but it’s hard to understand. I do now that I can look around me right now and see things and feel things and can make decisions. So i work with that. I’m glad the post soothed you. It did for me also!

  4. Evan Says:

    Huge fan James, but I’m too ashamed to post under my real Twitter name because I’m a lot like your example of being at rock bottom at the moment. I was evicted last week and currently living in a community services homeless shelter. No job (Get VA Disability benefits), no car and no leads. I have an 8 yr old son who was very disappointed I couldn’t have him last weekend. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, staring at my computer just lost. We have to be out of the shelter everyday from 7am-4pm. I look for jobs, but I have a 3 yr gap in my work history. I have a bachelors degree and great military experience, so why am I looking at working in retail or another minimum wage job? I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I’m capable of sooo much, but I’m 37 years old and this is all my fault. (Like one of your previous posts). I’ve written down 4 ideas (Daily Practice), but then I started making excuses. Then I saw your tweet that you had a new blog post. Lifted up my spirits and it really hit home. I just want to feel like a man again James. Feel worthy of being a dad.
    I’ve read probably every blog post you’ve done. (The guy who shot himself married his nurse right?) My life sucks but it could be a lot worse. But more importantly, it can be a lot better. When that will happen I don’t know, but I know I want it.

    • Oz Says:

      Evan, what are your skills and what state are you in? Just wondering.

      • Evan Says:

        I live really close to Seattle, WA. I have experience (and love) working in mental health and teaching/training. My bachelors is in Workforce Education. (I was a submarine tactics instructor while in the Navy.) I have (been told numerous times in fact) very good customer service/people skills.) I worked as a barista at Starbucks after the Navy, so that definitely helped. Plus, working with psychotic, schizophrenic, bipolar, suicidal (I could write a book) and every other kind of mental illness in a locked inpatient unit prepares you for every type of person and situation. Sorry to ramble, but that’s me in a nutshell. Thank you for the reply Oz. Truly appreciate it.

      • Oz Says:

        I don’t have a job for you but was recently jobless. Send me your email if you get this in time (10 mins!) to

      • Oz Says:

        Anyway, we will miss each other here Evan — but consider learning an IT skill – business intelligence for instance. You can download a free copy of Qlikview and become very good in that rather quickly. Become a consultant. Focus on your teaching abilities. Software companies always need trainers for clients, and also customer support. If you are great on the phone and with people, these will serve you well. Vitalsguy.

      • Evan Says:

        Sorry we missed each other. I’m going to download the cop of Qlikeview like you suggested.

      • Oz Says:

        Consider technical support positions/phone support. Your Navy service and experience taught you how to speak to people with confidence, that appears to be half the battle, or more. I have a fairly severe speech impediment and it’s a fight every day to communicate effectively. You are way ahead of me, buddy. Find that niche, keep learning, keep growing. James’ suggestions are key as well — keep moving, take care of yourself. One step at a time. Thinking of you and pulling for you Evan.

      • Shipmate Says:

        Hey Evan, former Navy guy, dealt with depression and burning through +$15K in savings to -$35K in debt. Got fired from an awesome job. Considered suicide more times than I can count. Just want to tell you my wife pulled me kicking and screaming onto my feet so many times while I went back to school full time for 6 years. Got an awesome job offer, then lost it. Crushing. Wandered depressed and soulless for the longest time while job hunting again. Wife kept me grounded. Finally, got new awesome job, baby girl, everything is amazing. Obviously life isn’t perfect, but my outlook is finally right. I love my wife and my baby everyday, they are like sunshine. The job and everything is finally exactly what I had been working for, but couldn’t see in the dark forest for so many long years.
        I just want to say (1) Find one person who loves you no matter what. Build more. And if you need a relationship, don’t feel like you’re not good enough for someone else. Put yourself out there, even exactly as you are. You need humans. They will get you through. (2) No dark forest is infinite. There will be a day when you will day I MADE IT. This is really it, I’m really there! I promise. Hang in for that moment every minute of every day. (3) I want to second the recommendation for phone technical support. I work in a tech field, in 50% travel implementation. Tech support is ALWAYS in need of good people, and after a year or two, you can show how good you are and move into training, field support, implementation, or other things within the tech field, either with the same company or another. I think this is really the right space for you. Good luck man.

      • Charles Says:

        Search (use advanced job search) and craigslist ( every day. From Indeed’s blog:

        “To illustrate the value you’ll bring to a prospective employer, your
        resume’s ‘Work Experience’ section should emphasize the results you’ve
        delivered with specific examples that show how you did it and what
        measurable results you achieved. Use concise sentences and bullets to
        make these results stand out.”

        + Make sure your resume is free of military jargon and acronyms.

        Marty Nemko is a popular career counselor whom I enjoy reading. He will be publishing an article about “what to do about an eons-long employment gap” next week. See his blog:

        Good luck, shipmate. NEVER GIVE UP!

      • Evan Says:

        Thank you so much for the tips. I definitely make the necessary corrections and changes to my resume.

    • James Altucher Says:

      I know a little bit how you feel. We all get into different situations but in America there is this overriding thing that we “HAVE” to be X, Y, or Z to be a “man” or a “woman” or “an adult” or “responsible” or “successful”.

      Right now you have to focus (as I had to in 2002) on what you need to do to survive. This is really important. You will feel good doing it. It will also show you that bit by bit you can be of service to others rather than just service to yourself. And from that you will be able to use that as a launching pad towards reinvention.

      But one step at a time. And no need to feel shame. In 100 years we’re all dead. Today is the first day of Right Now for you. Right Now be grateful. Right now do whatever is the one thing you need to do to survive. You will feel happy for it. And that happiness will propel you to the next step in the maze that the universe has laid out for you.

      And thank you for reading my posts. Yes, the guy married his nurse! I didn’t add that to this post because that’s one of those “the truth is stranger than fiction” things and people sometimes don’t believe it.

  5. Some anonymous guy Says:

    I sent you an email some months back when you were coming through my town.

    I was in a pretty bad spot and hoped to speak to you for a few minutes, as I thought you might understand and offer me some advice, or even a hand.

    It was a pretty hard thing for me to do, really, and though of course, an unsolicited email in an inbox is no obligation of any sort, I nevertheless felt that the author of several pieces such as this one, might be inclined to read and reach out. I assume the email never reached you (and that once again, I had embarrassed myself.)

    Anyway, I do like reading your posts, regardless of where I come across them, and wish I were more able to make your posts operational for me.

    • James Altucher Says:

      I am sorry if I did not respond. It’s often very hard for me to respond. I don’t check emails that many times per day. Maybe once or twice. And then I have to respond to people who are family or I am in business with or scheduling things. And then I try to respond to everyone else but first I have to write for the day. But sometimes that takes too long and then things slip through the cracks.

      That said, I am glad you enjoy the posts. “Operational” happens but only if one applies what I call “the daily practice” in mant posts. In my next book “Choose Yourself” I describe “The simple daily practice” which often helps ME on days or months when it’s hard to do the full one. I find that to be very helpful.

    • L Says:

      Maybe both of you will find this post interesting, about the value of an email: (It’s by John Saddington, the Tent Blogger – thought I’d point that out because the permalink itself looks kinda spammy!)

  6. ismichie_Edu-Muser Says:

    Sounds like Portia Nelson’s autobiography in 5 short chapters. Love your writing.

  7. Charles Says:


    Will you tell us how many pages “Choose Yourself” is and how if differs from ”
    I Was Blind But Now I See”? Thanks!

    • James Altucher Says:

      Hmm, ok. but are you judging price based on number of pages? It’s 66,000 words so however many pages that is. And it is different from “Blind” in 3 ways:

      A) more economic basis for why we need to “choose yourselves” and the history of how we got ourselves here
      B) more stories. More non-blog stuff
      C) more specifics on the daily practice that I don’t talk about anywhere else.

      But I will do more of a post on this.

      • Charles Says:

        No, I’m curious if you have a particular length in mind when you start a book or if you write until you feel it is finished. I seem to
        remember you saying that you intend to write 10 books. In your blog post for “Luckiest” you gave a page count (166
        pages) and the Amazon page for “Blind” states 174 pages, so I’m
        interested to know if “Choose Yourself” is similar in size.

  8. Ashish Says:

    I first thought “well, at least 143 is a prime!” But it’s not.

  9. Cassie Piasecki Says:

    I’m almost 45 and have been a serial entrepreneur my whole life but have nothing going on or even brewing right now. i’m itching real bad to be at something good and hard. My husband who is 20 years older than I am and a physician, says that I am too old to reinvent myself. I don’t hate him and he doesn’t do anything to stop me from trying and he even encourages me. But those words resonate with me. MIT is good for me to read James’s words. I can reinvent. I can become a success. He does it over and over.
    Thank you, once again, James. Write everyday. I love it.

    • James Altucher Says:

      Cassie, you are the same age as me. I am going to try and reinvent myself (again). You never stop. It’s exciting to always be in a process of reinvention. One of these days I will maybe figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

      • Oz Says:

        I am the same age as well. Spent too many years in a dead end job and travelling and not seeing my family. Laid off earlier in the year and had to reinvent myself pretty much. Self publishing and blogging helped to establish that reinvention.

        Never stop reinventing yourself Cassie. Your husband is thinking professionally as a clinician — it’s tough for docs since they spent so much time in school and training to get there — tough for them to imagine reinventing themselves. Our options do become a bit more limited as we age (such as, I’m probably not going to be a doctor now), but most things are still up for grabs. It’s a jump ball every day. I like the formula of finding a niche, go deep, become an expert, do it a while. Get bored maybe. Do it again.

        Thanks James – you are helping people and echo some of our deepest thoughts.

  10. online poker kid Says:

    After gaining and losing so much, is there a certain point at which you would feel ‘content’?

  11. pointsnfigures Says:

    Dick Costelo graduating address to Michigan class of 2013—>”be in this moment, now this moment, now this moment, now this one”. Interesting when you combine that with Zen, and other religions-and the current trend toward “mindfulness”.

  12. Brenda Brewer Says:

    Thank you again for another great post. A few months ago I was doing research on suicide bags, reading a lot of philosophy that led to nihilism and authors that committed suicide. I talked to my Psych NPP about it and I’m feeling better now (with the help of Pristiq and a great psychotherapist). Unlike you, I am clueless about how to make money since I left being a hi-tech worker in Silicon Valley 7 years ago and have been taken advantage of by a few record labels but I’m getting smarter. I pre-ordered your book on Amazon last night. I wasn’t sure if I had any money in my prepaid debit account and was afraid to look so I just clicked “Send to Brenda’s Mac Kindle.” It went through. The transaction was approved. I still haven’t checked that card balance because I haven’t put any money on it since last November so if it was a mistake I’m sorry. ;-P

    Can’t wait to read the book!

  13. Jon Says:

    James, I really relate strongly to this article. Turning things around to me I do roughly follow your steps. However when I start flowing with the idea generation, it seems to take me to a place of paralysis. Currently I would say that I have 10 Grade A ideas that I would love to implement, but working on them all is impossible, and I can’t seem to focus on just one. The more I put energy onto the idea muscle as you call it, the less able I am to focus. Any tips? Did you experience this, and how do you overcome it?

  14. Regarded Solutions Says:

    I had not known any of this about you. An amazing story with infinite meanings. It’s no wonder Jason thinks the world of you and your mind.

  15. Friv 3 Says:

    we can pass over painless, win yourself and do anything you want. don’t waste time on the painless, pass it and cancel it

  16. Tacgiymis Dievcenske Says:

    It’s hard to live this way after school. The hours of nothing… hours that will never return. And having idiot, insane adults tell you that if you ever want to be anything, you have to go through another dozen years of it, and then college… the way this makes us f***’ed in the head far outweighs any of the trivia they may teach us. Why, I don’t even remember Coulomb’s Law, for instance, but I sure as hell remember learning how to be bored. I’m 38. I wish I could have a day without thinking of school.

  17. Christian Russell Says:

    I’ve always felt business 101 shit is enough. And when I work with clients who make millions but have become overwhelmed or who’ve lost nearly everything, it always comes down to having lost track of the fundamentals.

    We all do it. We’re all addicts of one sort or another. I really enjoy you’re writing style and am glad to have come across your blog. I learned about you through Srini and Chris Brogan. Thank you for your work, for pulling through hard times that most people can’t imagine and having the guts to share it with millions of anonymous people. It’s inspiring. Much thanks indeed.

    • Peter_Jan Says:

      I agree, we’re all addicts in some way or another. Heck, I think ‘losing yourself’ in something is an essential part to feeling alive. The key, however, is to become addicted to something that compounds rather than decays, such as value investing rather than gambling (this includes most angel investing in internet startups).

      Edit: And whatever line of business you are in, no matter how exciting the growth prospects, make sure to have your cash flow covered. Insolvency is like a cancer, if you catch it early you can remedy yourself. Illiquidity on the other hand is like a heart attack and leads to instant death: No current assets = no food to eat.

      • Christian Russell Says:

        Cashflow! Amazing how many biz owners don’t even know what it really is. I like that you mentioned “losing yourself” is an essential part of being alive. Agreed 🙂

  18. E Says:

    Your post reminds me of the not so
    distant past when I made up a spreadsheet of about 13 different ways
    to kill myself- all rated according to difficulty, anticipated pain,
    cleanup, etc. Life is way better now, and I have a lot of the
    markings of outward success (house, family, meaningful job, all that
    bullshit). And I have the beginnings of what people can consider some
    kind of inner peace too. But I put a lot of energy into being normal,
    probably more than most people. My life looks good from the outside-
    and it is. But I haven’t really banished my demons as much as simply
    learned how to play twister and eat lunch with them. I choose my own
    health and my own sanity EVERY DAMN DAY. I wanted to thank you for
    your honesty and openness. You have made me feel better about my
    spreadsheet days. I guess sometimes we just have to go there,
    sometimes more than once. But hopefully I have learned enough to not
    have to go there again.

  19. D.Bonomaully Says:

    Nice blog James. Fantastic posts.

  20. Guest Says:


    Thank you for posting this. I think a lot more people consider suicide than will admit it out loud. When I was considering it as an option, the one thing that prevented me was my dog. Yes, my dog. She had behavioral issues and I knew if she went to the pound, she would have been goners and I couldn’t stand being the catalyst for that. Anyway, it got better. One of the things I would add to what you wrote above is, therapy. I found an amazing therapist and I know I was lucky, there’s a lot who really aren’t very good at being therapists, but she was.

    • James Altucher Says:

      Yes, i agree. I think many people can find great use from talk therapy.

      • nilsm Says:

        Really? I think therapy is kind of a scam. First of all, if you take all the psychological disorders you can pretty much diagnose anyone with a problem. And for many therapy seems to be some kind of lifestyle part, going every week for years and years, which pretty much shows there’s no real progress. Throw in the pills, you got 11% of the US on anti depressants now…

    • David Says:

      You’re not suggesting that James has suicidal intentions, are you?

  21. Von Says:

    Just came across your blog a few days ago (linked by another blog, I forget which) and I’ve been reading your posts every chance I get. I love how honest you come across and I agree with most of your points. I think I have a very similar writing philosophy, which I discussed here:

    Anyway, trying to read all of your blog posts. I’m thinking of reading from the beginning to have some semblance of order, I was jumping from link to link before. More power!

  22. Wondering Dan Says:

    I’ve been reading you almost since you started the blog. Very inspirational stuff. There’s one component of your story that is missing. How are you able to go from $0 to making a good living again? It must have taken months after your account hit zero. How did you eat well, let alone eat poorly? Food costs money. Rent costs money. Utilities cost money. Internet service usually costs money. How did you survive during the transition?

    • Peter_Jan Says:

      As he mentioned, he sold his apartment at a “million dollar loss”. So he had whatever a $15 million guy pays for an apartment, minus 1 million. In other words, he was illiquid when his bank balance approached zero, but never insolvent.

      • himagain Says:

        HA! Peter_Jan it seems like you might have already been there?? 🙂
        I will now have to dig deeper in James’ story line!
        Having been there before (minus a couple of noughts) myself, the critical period is developing some kind of structure to allow you to start again.
        HINT: Get a night job to pay your rent and leave your days free for hustling to get started again…….

  23. Spud Says:

    Have you looked into why you repeatedly self sabotage and lose all your money? I have done similar things myself, with less money but just as painful. My theory is that I throw away my money because I am unhappy with myself at some level. I would be interested to hear your view.

    • James Altucher Says:

      Yes, I have done a comprehensive study of this. I think I mention that throughout the blog but I do a deep dive into it in my next book (coming out this coming Monday)

  24. MJGottlieb Says:

    Hi James- This post hits me quite hard as 2 friends of mine killed themselves last Thursday and Friday. Having built and ‘un-built’ (for lack of a better word) a number of businesses over the past 22 years I have been very much in line with your thinking on many an occasion. I often disagree that it is better to have had and lost then to never have had at all as we tend to obsess in these twisted minds of ours all that we ‘used to have.’ On the reverse side, to ‘never have had at all’ may not provide sufficient confidence to think you can ever reach a certain level you are capable of. So, once again we seem to be in a bit of a catch-22 scenario. Thanks for the post. I always get something out of your content. Best-MJ

  25. Priit Kallas Says:

    Yesterday I made a list of the things I have achieved and proud of. I noticed that all the major stuff in my life has happened some 6 to 8 year ago. Nothing to write home about for the last 6 years. My business is looking down and I don’t know how I get through the summer slow time.

    I understand that to get to the next level would be really hard. I would like it to be easy. I was thinking about your How to become an idea machine post, that is permanently open in my browser, and considered how to implement that in my day so that I still have time for all the things needed to run the business. So today I came to your site to see if there’s any cool new stuff. Thanks for the post. I don’t need to be reminded more than two times.

  26. mach Says:

    when you search for “i want to die”

    you are the first result in

    and last on the first page on


    • morph2020 Says:

      I asked my county coroner about the best way to commit suicide without making a big mess. He answered me directly. “Just go get yourself a nice plastic bag you can get your head into, fill it with inert gas such as nitrogen, sit down and go to sleep. as you let the gas flow.”

  27. TryCreativityYouMightLikeIt Says:

    Try a morphine overdose, genius.

    • TryCreativityYouMightLikeIt Says:

      To be clear, I’m not recommending suicide; I’m simply pointing out at least one way to kill oneself painlessly. Yep. I’m not mean, just a contrarian smart-ass.

  28. Traycie Says:

    Gosh. Your blogs hit me square in the heart. Thank you for giving me the daily push to make myself a better person. And for giving me the belief that I CAN achieve it. That’s really helpful, too.

  29. Alan Says:

    Did I write this? No but I could have, keep writing my friend. 🙂

  30. Belmont Says:

    So let me get this straight…
    You made millions of dollars quite a few times with successful businesses, you’ve proven you’re capable of doing it more than once, and you’ve thought of killing yourself?

  31. Says:

    So James, what do you do when you are satiated with self-pity and cannot get out of the gutter?

  32. John Says:

    Could you please please contact me?

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