The Simple Daily Practice and How It Saved My Life

In AA: One person describes how she jumped out of a four story building and hit some sort of deck on the way down, bounced, and when she landed she was not dead (obviously) but had broken every bone in her body.

Another person took pills. Went into a coma for two months. Is still alive (obviously).

Nothing like that has ever happened to me. I never tried to kill myself. But I looked it up. I studied it.

Almost everyone who leaps off a bridge regrets it on the way down. They think, “Oh no!” in 100% of the cases. We only know this, of course, from the survivors.

Maybe they did not have enough commitment to the task. Maybe the ones who killed themselves were gifted with a strange determination the rest of us can only hope for.

I found one pill fairly easy to get from the doctor. I researched. If I took the whole bottle, there was a high likelihood I would die. Then my kids could get my life insurance.

But would I risk it? What if you just end up brain damaged for life. They can keep people alive forever now. No. I won’t risk it.

I had lost all my money. I was scared and broke. I had no friends. My dad had a stroke.

I had heard about an experimental treatment where they move your body all around in this globe.

But it cost money. I had no money. So I would go and watch him each week slowly die.

At first he stopped doing any kind of facial recognition. Then he would just look at the ceiling so I taped a chess board to the ceiling. It was “white to move and win”.

I hoped he would solve the position. Queen to Knight 8. Check! And like pins in the lock of a safe, everything would roll into place and his brain would wake up.

But he never focused on the board. Then he got bed sores. Then he got a heart attack. Then he died.

People say, “don’t worry. Things cycle.” No they don’t. Things sometimes go down, then they go down more. Then I say, “it can’t get worse”. And then it gets worse. Things can go down forever. Eventually they always do.

“Do one thing a day,” my sister once told me.

That’s it. It compounds. One thing becomes two. Two becomes Four. And so on. That’s how you climb up. Life compounds.

For me it started to compound when I did just one small thing a day. Then those small things would turn into opportunities. Then they would turn into actions. Then they would turn into executions.

People would tell me, “Have a healthy morning”. That’s very hard for me sometimes.

People would tell me, “Be grateful.” Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful when everything is going wrong.

One thing a day. Write an email. Sleep eight hours. Write ten ideas a day.

Send a rent check in. Call your friend. Take a walk. Study a new love for 15 minutes.

There’s that song that goes. “Click. Click. Click. Click.”

Make a click. Say “good morning”. Click. Write down one page of random journaling. Click. Send an email with an idea. Click. Eat well. Click.

I started to write ten ideas a day. Click. I took a walk. I kept in touch with friends. I wrote to strangers and sent them my ideas. I was grateful when people started to respond.

I followed up on two of the responses. I started to write for a living. I started a new business. I outsourced the development to India. Click.

After months, then years, things started to kick in. My blog became the #1 search result if you Googled “I Want to Die.” Success!

I would do one thing that makes me uncomfortable each day. This is how you carve out freedom in the prison around you.

One thing creative each day. Read about creative people and you will start to do creative things.

One thing that made me laugh each day, since it’s so hard for adults to laugh. One thing that strengthens any of my relationships.

“One thing a day” equals what I call “The Simple Daily Practice”.

And am I happy now? I don’t know what happy means. Life is chaos and The Simple Daily Practice is my small attempt to order it. Somewhere in the middle is contentment and freedom.

Your life starts to compound into helping the people around you. Like a pebble rippling out from the middle of the ocean, the waves eventually hit all shores. You achieve impact.

  • Interesting post as usual. Well -written. I’ve started to adopt the Daily Practice too, thanks!

  • I think there’s a pretty strong link between exercise and happiness. I haven’t been exercising much lately but I’m generally a pretty happy guy. But I have wondered that if I were not happy, if it would help.

  • Vera Oliveira

    Hello James: I only found you two weeks ago, but I already wrote 2 posts about you in my personal blog: Because I liked your ideas and your attitude to life, of course, but mostly to have you known by portuguese speakers.
    I’m always very happy when I find people from the next generation that, like you, strugle for living a «good life» in a philosophical meaning. Even if we don’t share all our ideas (wich is even better)! Maybe you are too new yorker and I’m too mediterranean and the ideal «good life» will be a mix of both. V.

  • ghala reader

    Hi James,

    no idea if this is the right place for sharing an “business” idea. But first, I`m Ben (Benjamin Karcher), read your LinkedIn things, laughed a lot and bought some sort of bundle.

    I am trying the choose myself thing (with a mix of things, as the awareness things). So, thanks for this stuff.

    One thing, you might find good as you are also into Yoga (which I am more or less in different ways) and your surroundings are: freeletics for Yoga.

    Provide a high quality platform for teachers of Yoga to guide you through the day. Imagine a baseball sticker album from the 50s. Only they talk, show you swings and you can join them.

    Some “yogis” inspire some people (some do for me) and this way, all interested in that well being kind (yoga) can get connected, visually and private (in a way).

    So, I read it is good practice, to ask question ask questions. Would that be something nice?

    Om shalom

  • I got into the habit of clicking recently. We get things done through simple action, and it leads us to interesting places. Those places lead to more interesting places. But we cant get there without getting something simple done.

    Write a letter of thanks
    Eat a good breakfast with a ton of vegetables
    Wash the dishes
    Walk around the block
    Tell someone who wrote something that you enjoyed it.

    All these small “clicks” grow.

    So, I am going to finish a click by saying – Thank you for sharing this.

  • That is a good advice, I agree seriously. I have a tendency of getting quite depressed and stressed up, and sometimes that one thing is the most I can do. It usually helps with the depression and stress to notice that I CAN do that one thing.

    Thank you for sharing this very honest post.

  • I have enjoyed this post! Thank you!
    “Read about creative people and you will start to do creative things!”

  • Dutch Ashtangi

    But how about your daily (..) yoga practice? How are things?

  • Putu Mega Putra

    Wow James. I know you from medium and follow you to your website. I really like your idea of starting a small things and it will compound. I never thought of that before. Thanks James

  • Putu Mega Putra

    Oh ya, I also downloaded your 9 skills ebook. Thanks