Books I read: The Choose Yourself Stories

I am a fan of Altucher (written about that before). I have read Choose Yourself and am a fan. So, I could not resist picking the book up despite my misgivings on Kindle Unlimited :).

What is the book about?

“Choose Yourself Stories” is a series of stories about people who have chosen themselves. You will be right at home and begging for more if you are already familiar with Altucher world.

tl;dr

Laugh. Cry. Learn. (a lot). A definite read.

choose-yourself-stories-review

 

A Short Summary

Get to real stuff quickly

You need the basic structure, and learn how to navigate your way. You don’t need to be an expert at everything and have deep knowledge of everything. You only need to do it better than the customer expected. Always add a bit extra that makes you the magician.

At the end , don’t get burnt by anyone and take things as they come – you and the rest are dead and gone soon.

James is a HBO guy making documentaries, and he has a brush with the shady sort on the bus to Riker’s island. There are all sorts of things happening in dark places, but life moves on. You still get up the next day and get breakfast.

Everyone will die

You, your neighbour’s dog, your worst enemy and the car driver who has pipes coming out of his heart that he acquired after trying a medicine to loose weight fast.

However, what matters is what you are doing today, how well you are living today, what ambitions you are charting out to yourself, and how do you finally plan to go – smiling, crying, fighting, or just being silent?

Know who you are

No matter how famous you become – and how everyone adores you for everything that you know, there is a likely chance that you know nothing. Break free of that ego and be who you are. TV, news, opinions are all hogwash.

Maintain that enthusiasm for life

Today, you are peddling up without any assistance, with the sandstorm in your face, with a wild cat and possibly the creature from tremors behind you. You so want to sacrifice yourself to any of those entities. But, you still persevere – there is fun in the next corner. You just need that little thing that carries you forward in the difficult moment.

There are always situations like Junior High in one’s life. You are treated to a pleasant surprise on the first day – the gut wrenching, shocking suprise that no one wants to have but secretly desires. Junior high and the first day come to pass.

Carve your mantra to strive for success

Altucher went from having 15 M in a bank to $150 and then $0. He struggled to make ends meet and then climbed all the way up by – no, not by waving a magic wand but doing something similar to what you do – living life.

  • Exercise everyday
  • Sleep nine hours a day
  • Be around people who make a positive impact on you

Live now, succeed and then scuceed even more. You may like or dislike the journey, you may absolutely hate your current state of life – but this moment is what you have. And, that is what you have to use to get forward in life.

Don’t get hung up on people and external factors

People can hand over shit to you at any moment. The people whom you fought wars, died for, the people who you loved, and experienced life’s better moments – it does not matter.

Any or all of them can easily turn into total jerks when it comes to a difficult moment. No matter what they do – life moves on and always for the better.

Do not think about all rejections and delve into the negative energy – but think about the positives that happened and will happen. And yes, positives happen even at the darndest of the times. At all those times that you are alive.

Spot the illusion, but always as an audience

It is fun in taking part in a three-card monte. But the sleight of hand can damage you with whatever you are willing to spare. And that happens in all walks of life.

Now imagine yourself as the audience – you will laugh no issue at the entertainment, take it in, and then move on. You are least impacted since you’re there for the laughs, not to make or lose money.

Grief too will pass

You go from a multi-millionaire IT guy to being a bus driver who drives from Queens to Riker Island in the middle of the night. Of course, you will see that all the rules that we have created in the “normal society” do not exist. You are not happy with what has it has come to. There is only much sadness, but the good is always ready to get itself unshackled at any moment now.

“Today may be an ordinary day. But may be I can try to make every moment in it extraordinary”

— James Altucher

Write ideas down

Maybe they click one day. Maybe they interact with each other in strange ways to create weirder ideas that you could use?

Freedom

Enjoy your freedom. Do something new and you may feel as though you are free for life – but a new worry can always come back.

Keep striving for a new freedom. A change will happen anyway, and you embracing that change (or driving it ahead) will make you feel that you are on the top of the world.

Nothing sells like embarrassing stories

Not because people want to laugh at you – only people with something wrong with their mind do that. Normal people wonder what they would have done in your shoes, cry some, laugh some and love the guy telling the embarrassing stories.

In Summary

Go read this book.

If you never knew the author, you will be wondering why the heck will someone write all this sh*t?

Not once do you recognize that Altucher is a multimillionaire with a knack for selling stuff, creates successful companies, is a great negotiator, helps people, and has created a raving community who stand by him (until you read ‘About the Author’ that is).

Books I read: Common Inner Peace..

I was deeply suspicious of books that are free on Kindly Unlimited – yes, incl. Harry Potter series. I have learnt to be suspicious of books that are selling really cheap – think 80-90% off as well. And, yes – this includes my own books :). “Come on Inner Peace .. I don’t have all day” by Sachin Garg reinforced my belief and made me proud of my own narrow-mindedness.

I read “COIPIDHAD”.. or “Come on.. ” about six months back, and took a while to digest it. After all, a lot of things happening in my life too.
Hopefully, not as messed up.

Come on Inner Peace!: I Don't Have All Day! by [Garg, Sachin]

[click on the affiliate link and buy something else. I will pray for you if buy this book]

A short summary

The story is straight from the pictures of yore – the ones your grandfather used to watch and think “deep things” about life. Only it could have been considered “risque”?

  • A man (our hero) catches his beloved with his best friend in a compromising position. Only to be known that it was CPR after an asthmatic attack.
  • Without any explanation, the hero leaves for Goa for a long hiatus (was it after, before or during college?) and ends up in a resort.
  • After working in menial jobs the tragic heroine visits him in the same resort and dies from our old friend – asthma.
  • Some “bestest” friends guide the dejected hero to an ashram. The Guru makes all the pain go away.

If you are at “WTF was that”, hold on to the thought. “Come on..” is about to get way interesting.

  • Enter the second heroine. A girl of nineteen who ran away from a potential career in pharmacy to sell paintings & read/collect literature in Goa, live in a resort, and date bald men.
  • Hero meets heroine no. 2, but is not convinced. He is all caught up with first (though he does not know she’s innocent). No. 2 returns to lowly life.
  • You remember it was an ashram? Swami tells hero to go meet no. 2.
  • He also instructs hero on the best peace-making secret of our lifetimes – “breathe in, breathe out”.

The hero and I are confused at this time. We are through 25% of the book.

  • Now, there’s another female who helps the hero search for no. 2. This lady is another mess-up from another life. But hey, who is counting.
  • In the run-up to find no. 2, hero’s chemical engineering skills are used to make meth, the lady doubles up as a drug pusher
  • Lady’s cough gets aggravated – has 20 days to live (what?). A donation site to help her does not gather much cash. Who cares – the hero can make meth anyway. The two head back to Ashram
  • Lady cannot be saved by surgery
  • No. 2 meanwhile gets reinstated by dad and heads over to Ashram
  • All of this culminates in a PG13 scene of a fake marriage and passionate love – in an ashram that serves “satvik” food.

Ah, the harsh world.

Conclusion

Seriously messed up.

I think “Come on..” is overread by most of the pseudo philosophers. Kindle highlights kept me reading till the end – e.g., 30+ people highlighted “Your mind is like the horse. And you are the one riding it. Nobody is born with excellent riding skills. It is acquired and mastered over time with experience”. Our hero felt overwhelmed by that; I puked a little.

I deleted the book from my Kindle. I also burnt the darn device and spread its ashes in the Kengeri river – just to make sure.

My Game Theory

The theory is simple — “humans advance when they don’t play video games”.

The gaming community reading this can now shut-down their phones and computers, and reinstall browsers to clean up the message(just in case). All others who feel the pressing need to monitor and moderate society can feel the blissful aura of knowing right thing all this time.

Is it that simple? The history leading up to the conclusion, alas, is murky. This post is a personal rant rather than anything else. Read at your own risk.

 

The Beginning

You see I was a game buff even when it was not quite fashionable to say you were one. I played Need for Speed 3 demo on my old Pentium that my mother bought to see her son achieve greatness. I decided that greatness comes later, what will come first was the adrenaline.

I played the demo about two hundred times, totalling 600 minutes. That should have told me something, but I was not listening.

I did go on to other games, but then, I stopped. I stopped for no reason, as I was passing through an exciting learning phase at work. The sidetrack on gaming and the change should have told me something but again, “there was no active listener on the other side”.

When I got bored, I started looking beyond work. I was trying to create ideas, following them through, created websites & blogs.  Amidst all that I also happened to come across the MMO world.

Lord of Ultima happened.

 

The Interim State

I was obsessed with Lord of Ultima. What started as a weekend entertainment, grew into evenings “invested” in creating my kingdom, helping my tribe, and doing stuff that made continents kneel before me. I ended up spending hard earned money – maybe $20 in my quest to achieve greatness.

Hundreds of hours again should have screamed something at me – but I was barely looking. In many ways, LoU was the beginning of an era. The era of long gaming sessions was just beginning,

Moving on to a powerful graphics card in Y2015 was the cornerstone. The graphics card along with Steam put me on the fast track to gaming greatness. I was more than 35 years, having a loving family, quite a few things to do – and there I was going nuts about Half Life,  Assassins’ Creed, and then, Skyrim V: The Elder Scrolls.

Fast forward to 2018, and The Division happened. What started as a Steam weekend free play became my newest obsession.

This game was crazy. I was putting in crazy hours in the night and weekends to get ahead of the game, getting killed in PvP one too many times, gaining friends across the globe, and keeping track of global events, and changes to weapons and armour with the numerous patches.

The era of social gaming put me in touch with hundreds and thousands of people like me. An entire community focused on a million things that may not even make sense to a non-gamer.

I sunk in a lot of hours to achieve proficiency in the games and getting entertained. I devoured content on YouTube, followed the masters, and also tried to help others on some forums. I was not even sure I was thinking anything beyond important stuff like building super characters, increasing my efficiency, and to latch on to a system to find a purpose.

Looking back I am still surprised how I found time for the games since it was quite common for me to stay back in the office pretty late, have late night meetings, and spend weekends at work. My alternate life in gaming just seemed far too exciting as compared to work. It was not the game – it was I who was crazy.

 

The Realisation

300 hours in ‘The Division’ and still going strong – there is and always will be something new to encounter in the game. I began to see where it began and what it was leading to.

Gaming can encroach a few minutes or hours at a time, and quickly stack up to days and weeks. All the free time that you could spend with your family, working out, program the world, or simply meditate, will get sucked up.

The Division will just a conduit. There will be new stuff, and there will also be other games – The Division II, Tomb Raider, and tens of other excellent games.

I never considered myself “addicted” (if such a thing exists). There were weeks and months that I did not play even for a single day. But once I start, it took a long time to end. The quest to find “exciting things to do” was never really over completely in the gaming world.

All I had to do was to start the game, and I was naturally transported to the White Zone, Dark Zone and everything in between. There are no prizes to guess what my monkey mind would do given an option between that and alternatives in real life.

Realization slowly dawned on me. I certainly got entertained, wondered at all the technological wizardry and loved the alternate life gaming offered. What I I did not have was any semblance of an impact on my life in the real world (todo for later: define reality).

The 2000 hours in the past 5-7 years could have been spent to-

  • learn WordPress in and out, develop themes and start a new consulting business
  • learn and follow through Go-lang as it developed
  • follow through on my technology love in Salesforce
  • learn the many Javascript frameworks as they got ‘invented’ and contribute to their development

I had a choice- I could continue with gaming and reset my defined path. That should be doing something more than just playing 2-12 hours a week by myself. Or, reset life to the path defined earlier.

 

The Change

I was ok, but not a terrific gamer. I could certainly work towards making stuff work, but I was not quite attracted to a life revolving around gaming as a career option. It took me two weeks to realise that my current path was not aligned to set objectives for my life.

I wanted life to have more of:

  • code & develop stuff of wonders
  • travel the world
  • go deep on achieving bliss

It was easier to do the above if I spent less time on gaming. But “spending less time” was a virtual impossibility because of the nature of gaming.  The change was surprisingly easy once the realization happened.

I reset my life. I went cold turkey on games.

I also promised myself that I will delete all accounts, burn the hard disk, and bury the ashes in Indian Ocean if I ever opened Steam, Origin, or visited any of the game deal sites (Goodbye, Isthereanydeal– thanks for all the fish).

Impact

Am I a far better person because of my decision to quit games?
Yes. (in my perception of reality)

That realization in itself is worth the effort. Everyone has their “idea” about themselves, and I am all for the idea to adapt and change. However, at any time, you should also have a sense of clear purpose. My sense of purpose in the world outside of games made more sense to me.

 

The Takeaway

I have the following tasks for you that could help you decide either to go deeper in whichever areas you choose.

  • Write down on a blackboard about how you see yourself in five years.
    Be a doctor, data scientist, hunter, painter, gamer? Enjoy doing sculpting, watching grass grow, develop content & games that people love?
    Place the blackboard in a visible spot. We don’t want to bury this in an app and uninstall the app.
  • Write down three tasks that you would do today, and this week to get to your goals
  • Measure time that you spend on activities in the week, and keep that going for 3 more weeks
  • Every weekend, get together your family or trusted friends. Discuss the ideas on the blackboard, what you accomplished in the week, and how you spent time in the week.
    No guilt or negative discussions allowed – it has to be an objective discussion about past and a passionate discussion on the future

Now, either reset your purpose (OR) your way of living. As simple as that.

 

.. takeaway for gamers.

There is nothing wrong in gaming. In fact, you are in the best century in the history of mankind for any sort of entertainment.

eSports is big and will be bigger. Even if you are not **that** good, you will make a lot of money by simply staying humble, thoroughly likeable, and having entertaining conversations in your streams and videos (I am looking at you, Radbrad :), or developing guides, testing games, and writing reviews.

Remember that I said, “my game theory works”. I didn’t say it worked for everyone. If you are someone like Marco, Shroud, or Doc, you should be playing more games not reading this stupid post.

 

.. for others.

Understand that it was simply not enough to stop doing what you did. Find good substitutes to fill the time. It is quite easy to gravitate towards other areas that can equally engage the monkey mind. For e.g. finding better music on SoundCloud, read all Kindle books that any author releases for free, or go through all free courses released on Udemy. (yep, I was there)

Find a better day planner that includes objectives rather than just tasks (e.g. ‘DO THIS, MORON’). In about two months, I noted down three high-level life goals, did a significant career change. And, had my Asana setup for the distinct, daily activities.

Finally, while I would love to say that I don’t regret the past altogether, things could have been better. What I would never stop talking about is where I want to be. That is the most important take away from this rant.

All it takes is some discipline in the first few weeks and constant reassessment – you are set on the path to greatness.

Planning for the good life in comment section

So, it so happens on one day that I develop an itch to know more about why the government bans Haj subsidy. And, what other kinds of pilgrimages can be banned.

You see – although I am quite distant to Godly matters, I tend to develop all kinds of interests.

This quest of mine led me to Google News, and then onwards to an old article by The Logical Indian. This news site evokes extreme reactions from people who care and I could not just resist the urge to gobble up their thoughts about all the burning issues plaguing this world.

The only take away from the article was –

The relationship between man and God is an individual choice. The state is forbidden to have allegiance to such an activity … Mixing state with religion is not constitutionally permissible.

This is where most of the intelligent and smart people stop, and go about their business. Of course, that does not include me.

I wanted to find out what other super intelligent beings on the planet think about the whole noise around subsidy. These are the guys who give away smart thoughts & ideas for free and get society to think about its own existence – all in the comment section.

I have to say I was quite disappointed with the comments in this particular article. I did what any other lazy person will do – furiously work on my mouse wheel and get to the next article in the constantly scrolling nirvana.

And, ladies and gentleman – this is where I hit the jackpot. I’m fairly certain that TLI does not mind sharing information by smart people, to smart people and for other smart asses like you and me.

The article, if you care (you should), is about harassers against women. The topic is serious – and, in all honesty, I did expect the intelligentsia to be more generous with their comments.

Boy, was I right and wrong at the same time.

First, we start off with Santosh who was insensitive to the problem in the article but was trying to be immensely helpful at the same time.

smart intelligent comments in news sites

Now, I do not know Mr. Santosh from Appolo Hospital. Or, just why he changed his name to Dr. Mark Fox who is Nephrology in the world famous India Surgical Hospital. But, I am determined to chose this conduit to put my kidney to good use at the right time. I have great ideas to spend USD 290K.

There were few other guys willing to “huge amount of money” for various organs – but my vote is for the above. Please save the WhatsApp numbers for future use.

The reason I say “future use” is because there are better options. What if you could get a super loan from a super friendly guy?

idiotic comments

I am now a true believer. Chris O David, the kind lender is not saying this himself. He got Jessica, a widow of three kids, to login with his account and start posting random comments full of praise of the “man of God”. The act will be deemed plain stupid, if not for the miracles here.

I half stopped here – what was the point in proceeding elsewhere when I could get money with low interest rates?

This was not to be.

No sooner I learnt of easy money without getting my kidneys involved, I was enlightened to “programmed blank credit cards”. Why take loans at 3% when I could just have a modern “akshay patra”. I could just say I was getting smarter by the minute.

internet comments spam hilarious

The most difficult decision was now to choose from a list of cards that offered a whole range of spends with corresponding costs per day (a few of them from untraceable, unknown banks).

Fortunately, I was not stupid. I could clearly see that there was a catch. The people with likeness for serious detective stories and crime mysteries will instantly see the major flaw in the process.

How can we get away with withdrawing all this money from the credit card with the damn CCTV looking at us? Even if the bank is not interested, will the CCTV monitor monitor (yes – that is the monitor of the CCTV monitor) also get the same idea?

There is only so much money in this world. “Fear not” – I assured myself as I scrolled to the next comment. Presenting the card that can trick the stupid CCTVs.

internet spam comments funny

The honest offer of a non-free, giver of money card was taken to the next level by a company that combines the best of both worlds – interest rates and blank credit card.

funny comments

Kidneys may join the offer later.

I felt so blessed to have all these people around, and to have the most powerful medium to get their messages across to me. And then, I had my ‘Inception’ moment.

inception moment

Damn you, internet.

 

(Sorry guys, could not resist the temptation to break the “no blogging” streak with an idiotic post).

Oppression and Conflict

I chanced upon an older Israeli – Palestinian conflict documentary focused on one of the incidents in 2014. It was more than interesting for me to watch the different side of the conflict and how humans see and react to the situation. (btw Vice is not the absolute neutral observer, but you must watch their splendid reporting and compare notes with other sources). This post is not to argue the different sides of the conflict, but a few half baked thoughts about why we act in a certain way, and how situations develop on the basis of our reaction.

 

Have a look here..

 

Oppression in any form is a crime. I am talking about all living (& probably, non living ) things – not humans alone. I’m no sage and have no insights to offer, but the observations distilled from others’ experiences and teachings have changed the way I think , or simply “observe”.

  • Although people from the weaker side talk about oppression in general, is there really such a thing?
    The mind perceives the oppression meted out in various ways – may it be the preferential queues in super markets, restricted access to certain areas (for e.g. the old Jerusalem in the video). The levels of oppression varies by a large margin, but the participants believe in the stories that we tell each other and stand united to face the oppressor.
    Here is a sample of those stories –

Israel keeps hunting down Palestinians for nothing

Palestinians are violent and cause trouble

We have to get the other side and the world to believe in our stories and point of view, because that is what matters

  • Even in a comparative stable region like Acre in North Israel, the Arabs express anguish that they are discriminated and express solidarity with the people who receive the short end of the stick in Gaza and elsewhere.

Though the young men and women are going to be as alien to a Saudi Arabia as Martians, they believe the stories that being Arabs make them stand out, less safe and subject to discrimination. The young lady in the video will not be given access to roam around streets in Saudi Arabia, let alone speak to unknown men on camera

Israelis are wary of always being on guard and feel that all Palestinians, regardless of their current affiliation and views, are stone throwers (who will easily pick up rockets if given access to) and trouble makers

  • There is a lot of hate around. Though the physical aspects of living are really important (for e.g. if I don’t have internet in a peaceful society, will I make these arm chair observations on how the world is/should be), do humans ever get to transcend their current state?

Can we en masse step back, and observe of what things are?

Do we stop seeing life as a series of reactions to reactions, leading to an infinite loop?

Do we step back and questioning fundamentals of why we do what we do? Why is there a nation state that draws virtual boundaries? Why does one set of homo sapiens feel the need to impress their ideas and thoughts on others?

 

If everyone converts to one religion, have physical transformation to be of the same color and other physical attributes, and agree to be under the same state, do we see humans suddenly move to the next level?

As things stand today, I can guarantee that there are always sides to be picked and fights to be fought. This is hard-wired physical survival at work, which is interested in furthering one’s own genes, no matter how common the neighbor’s genes are to said individual.

We continue to live by spreading these stories, feeling better or oppressed, and fighting to live and to die –  until better sense prevails.