Choose Yourself

part i

Dear Library User,

You are receiving this email because another user [me] has recalled “Brain Rules,” and you now need to cough it back up in a week. Sorry–but not sorry–

Love, the Penn State Libraries [and me]

There are two copies of the book in the Penn State system, so hopefully, whoever just recalled it from me isn’t the one who has to return it. If so, they can recall it again. I only have two more chapters to read, and I’ll be quick about it.

part ii

It sucks being a parent sometimes. Why? Because our children our so entwined in our own DNA that when they have problems or troubles or hurt, your own DNA hurts just from the fact that you are related. I swear to God I have sympathy pangs. I reel when the spud reels…only because I’ve been there myself and I know too well, but I know how it feels when you love someone, but you have to let them go. I know what it’s like to want to make everyone happy, only to know you can’t. I know what it’s like to question your confidence and to tear yourself down. l know the pain of sharp knives tearing through your every fiber. I know. I know. I know!

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot

And the only thing you can do is share your stories of battle; talk of the wounds and how they healed; share strategies and the ways you managed to survive; and move on. I’m old enough now that I can guarantee that time heals all wounds, [albeit, it may be incredibly slow] and, when it comes down to it, basically, we just have to keep swimming and moving on.

I’d like to know from any Cancers out there, is there something about April that makes you just want to shake up everything in your life? Maybe it was the blood moon? I don’t know, but Aprils and Mays can really test my strength as a parent…

part iii

Choose Yourself

So, I found Jason Altucher on LinkedIn the other day when he posted an article called “10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job This Year.” His writing was sharp, witty, and honest. I developed a crush on him. Really. I enjoy a man who can ignite my imagination. So, since I had a crush on him, I had to stalk him and I found more about him. He has a website. He’s on Twitter. He writes books. I wanted more….MORE!!! So, I bought his book “Choose Yourself” for 99 cents on Kindle. Then, I bought the softcover version…so my husband could read it. And I gifted another 99-cent version to my son. I don’t know what exactly compels me to this book, but it does. So I’m gonna read and share, so hopefully you come along and don’t want to beat me by the time I’m done.

Chapter 1: The Economic History of the Choose Yourself Era

This is just some of the gritty background of how America got to where it is today. Some of Altucher’s statements/thoughts/theories may at times seem conspiracy theory-like and he acknowledges that. I agree with some of these viewpoints. One of them is that since thousands of years ago, there has always been a group of people who “use violence, religion, communication, debt, and class warfare” to enslave the ordinary citizen. It still goes on today. There’s a few people out there who always want to rule/control the world and they will do what they have to to do it.

Anyway, the first challenge to this enslavement was the Gutenberg Printing press. It allowed to people to print and share their thoughts on a larger scale than ever before. It gave rise to the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. The second challenge to this was World War II, especially in America, where women joined the workforce and found they enjoyed working and earning money. Because of this, American families became richer than ever before. They made lots of money and bought into the “American Dream,” which actually turns out to be a little marketing ploy by Fannie Mae that convinced Americans to go into debt over buying bigger houses with “white picket fences.”

Americans became a spend, spend, spend society because they just kept accumulating money. In the ’60s, there was a stock market boom and the Great Society. In the 70s, the government created massive inflation to keep incomes on the rise. In the 80s, there was another stock market boom, and people kept trying to keep up with the imaginary Joneses. However, Altucher mentions that starting in the 70s, the median earnings for male workers began to go down. But noone seemed to notice. They were on the escalator to riches and success! Bigger houses, faster cars, flashy toys. Altucher shares a poignant saying:

The learned man aims for more. But the wise man decreases. And then decreases again.

Apparently, Americans weren’t concerned about being wise.

Then, came the dot-com bust in the 90s, and instead of backing off spending and solidifying our financial outlook, Greenspan continued printing money (as he did up until he retired) devaluing the American dollar at alarming rates.

Credit card debt went from $700 billion in 2005 to $2.5 trillion in 2007 (p. 12)

In 2008, everything crashed, and there were no more ‘booms’ on the horizon. The only thing we had … and still have … is increasing government debt. Altucher proffers that you will never see prices go down, because any time the markets see prices decline, we go into a state of emergency. Money can’t go down–it always has to go up to show increasing value or success. The government won’t ever allow it. And there’s not much you can do about it, but go along for the ride.

This book is about taking back power. It’s about innovating yourself. Human beings are “born pioneers.” (p 18) We are always innovating and looking for a new thing or a better way. Altucher states:

Build your own platform, have faith and confidence in yourself instead of a jury-rigged system, and define success by your own terms. (p. 19)

I read these lines and I think of my friend Bryan, who is a pioneer in my midst. This book could be written about him. I think of my son as he moves forward in his life, facing decisions about how he chooses to live his life and the consequences. I think about our country and all that it was and all that it could [and can] be. And I think about changes that I, myself, can make to make my life and this world a better place. Maybe this guy is all corny. Maybe not.

I’m thinking, simply put, it’s time to sink or swim. It’s time to do something…different?

 


Altucher, J. (2013). Choose yourself: Be happy, make millions, live the dream.

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