How to Win the Day

Hal Elrod Car Crash

Hal Elrod was dead for six minutes. The car he was driving crashed head on into a truck. His girlfriend, sitting next to him, was unscratched.

The roof of the car sliced open his head, causing brain damage.

Bones in his face, his arm, all over his body were broken and he was in a coma for six days (during which time his girlfriend broke up with him). When he woke from his coma the doctors told him he might never walk again.

You are the alchemist of your life. The universe, perfect for 14 billion years, has given you everything you need to thrive.

And yet…we often want to forcibly change the universe to fit our own selfish needs.

What idiots!

I’m sure Hal did not want to hit that car. Did not want to be told he might not walk again. Did not want to go through years of therapy and misfortune as a result of this single event.

This is where alchemy comes in. We’re all given this chance at some point in our lives. We’re all given the tools to turn misfortune into gold.

15 years later Hal is a father, runs a successful business, and is a bestselling author of the book “The Miracle Morning”.

Why I love to podcast is because I can just call Hal up and say “Can I talk to you about this book?” So I did on “Ask Altucher” a few weeks ago. What a great scam podcasting is!

The universe is a contradiction. It is infinitely open and yet we can’t escape it.

It is 99.9999% empty and yet is filled with everything. Atoms bounce around totally randomly and yet defined by the most precise equations.

Einstein said “God doesn’t roll dice” and yet…every moment is unpredictable.

We’ll never understand the contradiction and we shouldn’t try. Trying has led to myths, to misconceptions, to wars, to anguish.

Hal didn’t fight what the universe had dealt him. He turned the fear and the pain and crushed it down into a diamond.

The diamond he now calls his “miracle morning” routine that he put together bit by bit to save his life. And now by he uses that same routine to save the lives of thousands of others.

I like his routine because it fits perfectly into what I call “The daily practice” of choosing yourself: striving to improve every day 1% across physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

After I spoke to Hal I put together this infographic describing his method.

Different parts of our brain are activated when we read facts as opposed to when we read poetry. Because facts we try to remember… and poetry we try to unravel a mystery of words mixed with art.

We’re so ignorant and lonely and overwhelmed by this vastness – this story that tells everything but reveals nothing. And yet we’re all in it together.

What if every moment we turned the facts of our lives into poetry. To give up trying to assign meaning and turn all of our periods into question marks.

Doing these daily practices, or miracle morning routines, is how we begin to unravel that mystery.

Maybe this one thing is the only thing I really believe in. The rest…I’m wide-eyed and just born and want to learn.

My grandfather used to say to me when I was little, “if the universe had an end, what’s on the other side?” He’d keep repeating it, because we both were trying to figure it out.

My brain hurt trying to think about it. Because there’s no answer but it begs for one.

I’ve never died like Hal. Maybe it’s irrational but I’m kind of jealous of that he did. People who die have a story for the rest of their lives.

This morning I’m going to get ready to die. And this morning that’s how I’m going to live.

Learn How To Win The Day From James Altucher


  • Lupus

    I’m going to let the mysteries of life scare me.

    It’s better than going through an article which is basically a pitch inviting readers to listen to… Whatever you’re saying. Way to push the envelope with the sales letters.

    • diablo135

      Then why did you even take the time to sit down at your computer, type in this url and read the article? I just don’t get it.

    • Alvin Foreman

      Did you see what you did there? “envelope” and “letters”. Nice. I totally disagree with the sentiment, but I liked the pun, intentional or not.

  • Matt Greenburg

    Thank you for this article. I have printed out the infographic and have it posted by my desk. It’s a good reminder to stay focused with my morning practice. I appreciate the work you and Claudia have been doing and wanted the both of you to know that it has made a difference in my life. Keep being awesome.

  • Marcus Feder

    Thank you for this! I just put the infografic in a Keep note with a daily reminder for 7:30am. Great list!

  • Jing Yan

    I started jogging with my husband in the morning 2 years ago. it was difficult to practise it every day . when it rains, or in bad mood, have an appointment…. things came in . but i tried to stick to it whenever i can. after 4 months, i am obsessed ! we have to start a day jogging together ! you need a infografic to remind you for 3 months , after that , things will go all by itself.

  • yopalhal

    James, thank you so much for sharing my story and The Miracle Morning with your community, and for contributing such thoughtful, valuable perspective.

    You and Claudia have been (and continue to be) such positive influences in my life, and I am so grateful for you both!

  • Brano Biznar

    I love this side of you. Short and strong writing! Aaaaand thanks for the picture!

  • Aashiesh Misrra

    My routine is wake up meditate, read between 7 to 8 usually for 30 mins, 8-9am gym, affirmation, gratitude list and to do list before going to bed at midnight after market close, ya I am 8hrs ahead of EST, I am a T Sykes student as well, thanks for all the blogs James they are really insightful and fun to read…

  • alfakte

    I’m not interested on How to win the day, I prefer your writing first. Such a great piece.

  • Interestingly SAVERA is the word for morning in Hindi