What Did I Learn Too Late In Life

I killed myself every day. Non-stop torture.

For decades my “self” was a deadly mixture of anxiety about money, pain about relationships, petty jealousy, fear, wanting people to like me.

I was thrown out of graduate school, failed at business, failed at jobs, lost a marriage, a house, then two.

Always jealous. Always crying. Always wishing I were someone else.

I constantly thought about money. Night and day. I would go to therapists not to reduce my anxiety but just to ask them for money.

I’d go to psychics and astrologers and ask them when I would make money.

They always said, “Next year you will make a lot of money”. Or, when China was “hot”, they’d say, “I see China in your future. A lot of money.”

None of it ever came true.

I exiled myself 70 miles away. I didn’t leave my house for three months. I felt dead.

One day I had a bad trading day. I was so upset. When will things change?

There was a little island near where I was. I walked into the water. I let the water go over my head and I just floated. I wanted to die.

I was so sick of being a prisoner to the enormous desire of money.

It was a monster. It never left my head. It was killing me. I wanted to sink.

The next day I said, “Why do I keep making it and then losing it?” Why do I keep falling in love and then…disaster?

— What is going right when I make it? What is going wrong when I lose it?

What is going right when I fall in love? What is going wrong when I lose that love?

What is going right when I am creative? What is going wrong when I lose that creativity?

There was a time in early 2008 I was writing for the http://street.com. I was so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed.

My business partner, Dan, was writing four articles a day under my name so nobody would realize I disappeared.

I had to change. Maybe desire = anxiety = negativity.

I became addicted to anti-anxiety drugs. Anti-psychotic drugs. Painkillers. Alcohol. Everything that could numb me enough to sleep.

I was so addicted to the worst drugs I’m still weaning off of them a quarter milligram at a time.

I’ve always been an addict. I always will be an addict.

I looked back at the best times in my life. When I felt confident. When I was making money. When I felt the courage to love others, when I felt the strength of having others love me.

— What was I doing right?

I looked back at when I was doing things wrong: businesses failing, no friends, aborted relationships, lying.

— What was I doing wrong?

I didn’t have a core integrity to speak from. I didn’t have a core manifesto. Now I do and I try to live it every day.

People always want complex solutions to simple problems. But minimalism, simplicity, less, is always the best.

So I’ll write what I’ve written before. Maybe add a tiny bit.

The entire universe came from a single infinitesimal dot.

A fresh start.

PHYSICAL HEALTH – Eat / Sleep / Move.

– 8 Hours of sleep
– Simply don’t eat processed foods (I try. I try.)
– Move. On a recent podcast, the author of “The Bad Food Bible” told me, “30 minutes of brisk walking a day is enough”.


I have so many examples of this:

– a bad romantic relationship will destroy every opportunity and friendship in your life
– one single bad business relationship can destroy a billion revenue company
– one bad friend can cause months of anxiety and worry
Only 1000 “No”s can find you the right “Yes”.

——To you who are special to me: “YES!”


I always say, “write ten ideas a day”. Not to have a good idea. But to exercise the idea machine. A machine that will change your life once developed.

Every day this idea machine fuels the rest of my life. It’s a miracle.

How can you be creative? I don’t know. Keep a notebook (I keep a waiter’s pad), write your ideas down for the day. Then write down everything interesting to you.

Practice: write ten novel ideas. Write ten inventions. Write ten things McDonalds can do to be better. Google. Your friend. Your spouse.


I hate the word “spiritual”. It sort of feels gooey.

But the essence of spirituality is simply: “I can’t control the world.” And the world is an irrational place filled with irrational people. And yet happiness still exists.

What is happiness? I don’t know. But this is what I try:

– friendships and love

– improvement every day in the activities I love. Even tiny improvement.

– freedom. Making more choices for myself today than the day before.

If others are making choices for me, the results won’t be as good as my own choices for me.

Everyone else’s agenda is worse for you than your agenda.

1% Improvement a Day

Whatever I try to get good at, I try to improve 1% a day.


  • mentors
  • virtual mentors
  • doing
  • reading
  • writing
  • studying failure (never blame, always study)
  • repeat
  • challenge myself. If I want to get better at something, find the worst conditions to practice in.

Mikhail Botvinik, former world chess champion, used to play practice matches with someone blowing smoke in his face.

Did he get better? Yes.

Did he die of cancer? Probably. But he got 1% better a day.


Two years ago I threw away everything I owned. I lived for two years in Airbnbs.

Now I am starting to slowly build up.

In those two years I was more successful than I ever was. I discovered new and great friends. I met someone special.

When you get rid of the clutter of life, of the mind, of emotions, then true love takes its place.

Loving yourself is Abundance.

From nothing, comes everything.

What did I learn too late in life?


The Journey towards Personal Freedom Starts with YOU

It's time to make the most important decision of your life: Choose Yourself.

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  • Melissa

    The idea of making choices for myself rather than letting others do so on my behalf is scary. Don’t we at times ask others to choose for us because then we can blame them? Same idea when corporations hire consultants…they get to blame them…or delay decision-making until studies are complete, etc. I think this one insight requires knowing that you are capable of making good decisions. I’ve struggled with that however what’s helped has been analyzing my historical track record. Thank you for this candid 50 years in the making post. Happy almost birthday. #garyveeandjamesistarted join me on An Interview with Melissa Llarena the podcast. I’d love to interview you on 1/24 or 1/25 in NYC on the UWS for my podcast which I launched because of your ep. 260 with Gary. Please let me know what to do next?

    • jbecket

      Very good point. Okay I’ll do it your way. Ah it didn’t work out, so it’s your fault.

  • Stephanie Peterson

    This is one of my favorites, I cringed and laughed, I felt pity and victory. I feel the journey with you. I hope you’re no longer asking therapists for money… so hilariously pathetic. (They should be coming to YOU at this point.)
    If one is awake, it’s never too late for anything.

  • Sometimes it’s a long road. Who’s to say it was “too late” in life? Maybe you needed to go through this for a reason :)

  • uragreat12

    Life is perfect despite appearances, but this is only known from the ultimate perspective. We all have access to that because we are that, but we have been playing a game of forgetting that in order to remember that and come out even richer than before we started the game. Your extreme challenges were gifts in disguise, but that’s not knowable until your feet are firmly planted on the true ground in the right direction, which comes from trusting and enjoying the journey, which is what you learned to do. The best and quickest approach is asking and seeking what enables us to do everything we do? If persisted in, it will make life so much easier and it will be the greatest discovery and it will help to bring us home. Everyone will get there eventually, so it’s all in good hands, and, as I started out saying, despite how crazy it sounds, “Everything is Perfect.” I’m sure a lot of people would think what I said is crazy, but it’s the Truth and it will set all of us free.

  • Liz Kaufman

    This is beautifully profound. By clearing the clutter in our life, the waves of energy we send into the world are loving, thus the bounce back from those waves are loving.

  • Allison Payne

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I love starting my day with your blog and a big cup of coffee: the combination just gives me the boost I need.

  • Tim W

    I’ve been hopelessly in love (by child) to a woman who once told me, “My only reprieve in life is knowing someday, you’ll die before me”. Today I said “no” to her. Someday’s I say “yes”. When I look at my boy, I see her. When I see her, I love her. When she speaks to me, usually the first word out of her mouth is “no”, often right after my constructive suggestion. I know this is a toxic relationship. I know it’s one I can’t walk away from. There are labels for everything we feel and go through in life today. I want to peel off all the labels and just feel, don’t call it anything except a moment. If you’ never been down, how the hell could you know what up is? It’s during the trying times, sink or swim, where we find out who we are. That’s when strength to carry on comes, solutions to change.

  • James Buechler

    Straight from your heart. Like a cannon ball!

  • Truly great post and I love the 1% improvement a day and writing 10 new ideas. Even if the new ideas never manifest, it’s just so refreshing to write them out of my head and get them onto paper.

  • Jessie Wheeler

    Great Stuff! Only the best are that transparent!

  • Gary Epler

    Late in life? This is a time to begin. Life is extraordinary at all ages and gets better every day. Learn and maximize the five components of well-being: create happiness during the day; be engaged in life – know what you want; where your going, and what your doing at all tines; have meaning in life – in a social setting, it’s always about the other person; have accomplishments every day, big and small; and engage in positive social interaction with everyone you meet. Learn and maximize the ten health practices: love life; eight hours of sleep; one hour of continuous exercise every day; healthy nutrition eating foods with no added sugar, no added salt and a balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio; learn something new every day; alpha-brainwave medication time; be grateful; have compassion; learn self-healing, and lastly, be your true self. Maximize these 15 elements for a better life every day with no time left for anxiety, depression, resentment, anger or blame. Best wishes for success.

  • David Ryan

    I love reading your writing James – you make me want to be a better person.