Happiness This Very Second

(photo by Willy Ronis)

When was the last time you felt like this little boy?

I’ve spent the past 20 years worrying about money. Worrying about what other people thought of me. Worrying about relationships, love, loss. Awkward about people, places, things, agendas Agendas. Thinking about the people who were angry at me. Obsessing on the people I was angry at. Scared to fail. Afraid to adventure. Thinking I had to achieve goals to alchemize unhappiness into happiness. Thinking I had to be the smartest person in the meeting, the room, the building, the city,

thinking that the only way to I could ever be HAPPY was to get away far away far far away from


just so I could get


in the land of the “goals”. In the land of the “motivations”. In the land of “success”.

What a waste.

Now I hear the birds chirping, its not yet 5am. If I can picture it for a second –  being a young boy, smiling, I have my bread. Picture what is in the eyes of that boy. Picture those are your eyes. Feel that moment of flight through the air, society hasn’t yet given me my orders, my goals. I’m free to run, to enjoy, to relax. Yesterday is long gone. Tomorrow will never come. I’m happy today, with my bread, with my smile, with both feet flying in the air. Like a bird. Like nothing I’ve ever felt before. For the briefest of moments happiness is the absence of everything that has happened to me ever since.

Ideas for a world out of balance… sent straight to your inbox!

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Something to help you make sense of the chaos.

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  • AvidConfidentialReader

    Great way to start the holiday weekend and the summer.

  • Soozandthezoo


    • Sooz

      J.A..could you erase and leave Sooz..to quick to press enter(my finger’s are on fire this a.m..)

      • Sooz

        I find it amazing that people can sit and read and follow never responding..just waiting for the opportunity to bring out their dagger’s.
        I was taught to ‘always’ take the High~Road..although, there are times that road must be defended..
        Here’s to BBQ’s and pool openings..have a great holiday.

  • ClaudiaYoga


  • The Grandfather

    Living in the moment……..

  • Neo92803

    Summer vacation seemed to last forever, every day was an adventure, the Yankees were the greatest team ever, and I loved life…

  • This was beautiful.

  • Guest

    Awesome James, thank you for your blog. 

    Your message today helps me be a better person by living in the moment.  I’m driven by goals, motivation and success.  At 47 years old, I’ve been successful, but not always happy despite the success.  At this moment, I’m leaving the past behind, not looking toward the future, just running with an arm full of bread.

    • Sarparbi

      I keep trying to live in the present but i can’t! I keep thinking that i will be more happy in the future, some way.

  • Paul

    Money is like sex… only ‘too much’ is enough.

  • I wonder if he stole that bread :)

  • tolstoi

    Your best – and I’m a regular at your site.  You’ve distilled a lot of what you’ve said before and it’s beautiful.  Enjoy your day – soundl like the practice is bringing you joy.

  • Yes :) when you’re a kid, time moves sooo slowly. Summer vacations seemed endless. And holidays were special. Now it seems like they’re just like any other day. I wonder why time flies when you’re older.

    • My theory is because aw we grow older we cultivate an increasing number of “time references”  which we jump to on a daily basis: get up, have breakfast, go to work, go to a meeting, have lunch, go to a meeting, go home, have dinner, drive kids to an event, get groceries, do the laundry, watch favourite tv show, pick up kids again, go to bed, not to mention: get car serviced, mow the lawn, shop for insurance, go to grandma’s, shop for birthday presents, take spouse to dinner, go fishing with buddies, …. All these activities create points of reference that seem to make time accelerate. We also have an increasing number of memories we call up every now and then to “bend” time.

      • Otaddy

        We also busy up our lives with things that provide limited value.  

        One summer, I am going to drop out completely from adult activities–well as much as possible, some adult things are pretty nice–and just enjoy summer without having endless things I “have” to do.

  • Christopher Pagello

    That was really great James!

  • A fan

    This post is comforting. I’ve had an emotionally trying year with some really painful growth periods. A huge challenge has been learning contentment with where I’m today, rather than wallowing over how far I need to go. It is so hard to be patient and forgiving of yourself in this regard. Additionally, after you’ve been disillusioned by your own mistakes, regaining a child-like joy seems impossible sometimes. Your posts frequently remind me that I don’t need to wait for happiness but that I can start cultivating it now. Thank you, James.

    • Wow! I could have written that post almost word for word. We often think we’re alone in our suffering and questioning.  I don’t want to say it’s comforting to know I’m not alone because that would be crass but I suppose I often forget that no one is an island.

  • Kevin Friedman

    Wow, great post. I remember the day I realized I didn’t need to go “there” and everything I could ever want was right “here.” And, literally, I found myself SKIPPING down the street like I was 8 years old. We have to remember.

    One of the things that helps me remember is watching the ending to one of my favorite movies, American Beauty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGiI-MuTWf0

    • Robin Heinen

      I totally agree, that scene is one of the best scenes ever. exactly what I was thinking of (and blogging about last week, really!). the movie is sad, but the message is beautiful…

      • Kevin Friedman

        Wow, Robin, so nice to meet a kindred spirit! :-) What’s your blog? I’d love to see it.

        I guess the movie is sad but, in someways, it’s incredibly inspiring for those of us that are still living… or trying to LIVE.

        • Robin Heinen

          Hi Kevin, I just really like the hidden messages in the movie. I also love the plastic bag scene. we forget to enjoy the smaller things in life. sometimes the small things are the most beautiful (probably why I wrote a thesis in entomology). you can find my blog at robinheinen.blogspot.com. some are in Dutch, most in English. hope you like it.

          • Yes, the plastic bag scene is amazing. I loved the movie so much that I had to meet Alan Ball (the writer) and thank him:


            Wow, thanks for sharing your blog. I look forward to reading it!

          • Robin Heinen

            Great! that’s just amazing to be given the opportunity to thank your heroes. somewhat similar I got to thank my favorite band, elbow, last year. there’s a picture on my blog in the about me section….

  • JackBlack

    Awesome … my favorite post of yours so far …

  • Artie Cab

    If money is like sex, consider me a sex maniac!

  • One of your coolest posts – Thanks James and have an amazing weekend!

  • Sometimes the shortest, simplest pieces are the most profound.

  • Alex Levin

    Thanks for inspiring a little bit of peace in this world :)

  • That boy is so free…untouched pure soul…very lovely post.

  • P_Jaunne

    Love that picture!  Happiness is a loaf of fresh bread (and maybe marbles in the pocket.)

    No need for fancy unhealthy fast food, online video games, nintendo, ipod, or ipad …

    • Robin Heinen

      I recently went to Amsterdam, where I met a group of totally excited French people. they were in the red light district, where you often meet excited groups of tourists… these French people though, were getting totally excited, not by the ridiculous amount of sex shops, marihuana or prostitutes, but by looking at a bunch of baguettes in a bakery. yes people, happiness is a loaf of bread, which we can buy (but we too often forget we can bake and create ourselves)

      • Otaddy

        Oh yeah, I get it completely.  My Grandma used to make the best sandwiches–fresh baked Italian bread, fresh, thinly sliced hot capicola, thinly sliced cheeses… pure heaven!

        • Robin Heinen

          I can imagine… Italian food is great! I used to have an Italian house mate, he made the best food ever. his dad made wine and olive oil for a living. even thinking about it makes me hungry!

  • Mehran
  • Neena Kaur

    Thanks for the reminder of enjoying the now moment, the journey. Right now enjoying some luscious fruit. I call it God’s nectar.  Loving it!

  • Anjanikumar

    Most obvious thought, everyone knows but finds it hard to live by….Good James! Wonder, why the number of people commenting is going down day by day for your posts….

    • DeltaFarce

      Because james has no talent and is a crappy person, in general.

  • I was just thinking this morning how everything in my life is in harmony for the first time in a long time, perhaps since I was a child. While I do agree that true happiness is in the here and now, and the achievement of goals is not the end all be all, I do feel that as long as you are moving towards your goals you can and should be happy now. If you are not able to move towards these goals, or make any progress, no matter how slow, I am not sure you can be happy. My realization came about by the fact that while I am certainly not where I want to be right NOW, I am taking the steps to get there one day, though I know not when that day will come, and that’s fine. I know I’m on the right path, so now that I’ve found the path, I can be happy walking it.

    If you can’t find that path, if you can’t make any forward progress, then I’m not sure you can be happy here and now. I was in that place, and I tried to be happy, but I couldn’t make it happen — I couldn’t force it. I’m now on my path because I found it, and that has made all the difference in the world.

    So in short, for me, my goal should always have been about finding my personal path, as elusive and undefinable that is. In a way, my path came to me, and yours will too if you make an effort. Follow me on Twitter if you like… http://www.twitter.com/bro_d

  • NoFx

    How cute. James still thinks he’s a writer.

    • How cute, he still thinks this is funny.

  • DeltaFarce

    James Altucher pretending to be an introspecitive writer is like that kid pretending he’s on Mars. Neither is true, but it’s amusing in a pathetic way to watch them play out their delusions in a public spectacle. 

  • DeltaFarce

    James Altucher pretending to be an introspective writer is like that kid pretending he’s on Mars. Neither is true, but it’s amusing in a pathetic way to watch them play out their delusions in a public spectacle. 

  • Roy
  • kamalravikant

    Beautiful, James.  Reminds me of a Neil Gaimen’s commencement speech (currently making its rounds on the web, very worth reading): 


    Two points from there reminded me of you:

    1) The best piece of advice he ever got (from Stephen King): 

    “This is really great. You should enjoy it.”

    He regrets not following this simple advice.

    2) This from the speech:

     “The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

    • kamalravikant

      Speaking of, when do you start doing commencement speeches?  I’d pay to attend that – lots of life wisdom along with why you shouldn’t go to college.  That’d be fun to see!

  • Rjtahvlidari

    Dude, seriously you’re a great thinker and great writer. Please, however, be a wee bit more professional with punctuation. The periods and commas go inside the quotations. Just a pet peeve of mine and makes you look amateurish. Again, you’re an outstanding blogger. Keep going

    • Anjanikumar

      Amazing, how people are bothered with petty details.Never ceases to amaze me!

  • El_Campeon

    If we have been aware enough to have had a glimpse at reality, enlightment, childhood again, we will fiend for more of it like the person searching for that last morsel of substance to pack in their pipe for one more hit that may bring them that momentary bliss. However, we try to create a sustainable life, we try to make a plan, but we get lost in the plan and forget the feeling. They say it can 30 seconds or thirty years to achieve enlightenment. Our five senses can naturally bring us that immediate gratification, if you let them disrupt that constant internal dialogue that has just simply become so mortifyingly boring. If you trust yourself, if you allow yourself to stop and take a look, you just may find out that you are a lot higher up the mountain then you had realized. All of that toil was not futile. And, in a moment the view from those heights is spectacular. Embrace it, it is yours, you have earned it. The best part is that you don’t have to return and walk back down. The choice is yours, as it has always been. You have the option to turn around, take a running start, and jump off the cliff. You may just find your wings, and what do you know?  You always knew how to fly.

  • Great post with a great picture!

  • Arlee Bird

    Remembering through my little boy memories can raise as many questions as are answered, but it also brings me a peaceful feeling and a bundle of smiles.   I hope my grandchildren can look back on their childhoods in the same way.

    LeeWe need your feedback!  Blogging from A to Z

  • kcastagnaro

    James, I’m embarrassed to say I’m catching up on older posts and only reading this today. I think you’ve said something about last lines being of utmost importance. This one, this post… it’s brilliant. I’m going to remember this for a long time. 

  • sorin cristin NICOLAU

    if is to litlte is not good,is to expenssive is verry innessesecry

  • sorin cristin NICOLAU

    sorry for my gramaticle…