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The greatest pleasures in life

James Altucher
15th Jan 2018
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At age six, Jacqueline du Pre was running, cello over her head, down the performance hall where she was one of the performers that day.

She was smiling and laughing and running.

A janitor, figuring she must have just performed and was relieved and happy at how she did, said, “You must have just performed. Congratulations!”

And she said, “I didn’t perform. I’m about to!”

Jacqueline du Pre

She died at age 42 in 1986. She's one of the greatest cellists in history.

But that day, at age six, she was so excited to perform that she was running TO something.

She was running towards an exciting and uncertain and even scary future (“I have to perform and do well!”). She wasn't running with relief and the fading of fear. She was running towards the fear.

She grew up to be one of the greatest cellists of all time.

I have to give a talk later today and tomorrow. I'm always nervous as hell. And then standup on Saturday.

I have to teach myself to run TOWARDS something, with cello overhead.

I want to do this every day.

Laughing, happy, excited. I am about to perform!

Happiness is a scam.

I wrote the above post about du Pre a year ago today.

I am always trying to make my articles "evergreen." And here it is: I can post the exact same article today.

It's to remind me how important it is to run TOWARDS something.

To DO rather than plan and think and analyse and hope.

To ask a question and leave it in the air, unanswered, floating, but simply asking it. Even that is "DOING."

To "choose myself" rather than waiting for others to choose me. Ultimately, if I choose myself it means I am choosing freedom.

How can I take a little more control today, that I didn't do yesterday, over the things I value most? How? HOW?

A good friend of mine has a family member in the hospital right now. He is depressed and having problems.

Too often, we chase happiness: the next party, the latest drug, the next "love," the clapping of others, the salary increase, the promotion, and all the other metrics society has approved as "worthy" for us.

But I told my friend what I always remind myself.

Happiness is useless.

What is useful is:

Community

Good friends and relationships. Hundred percent of the people in my life need to add to my life, just as I hope and strive to add to theirs.

Improvement

The goal is the direction. I want to be better at the things I love to do: a kinder person (father, friend, relationship, etc), a better writer, a better performer (podcast, speaking, standup, etc.), healthier.

Freedom

What is freedom? It's not money. I've had it all and it didn't give me freedom.

Money is good to pay for experiences and conveniences and pay for the bills. It's certainly important.

Money is often the prison door. But it's not locked.

Money will solve our money problems. But it is not the key to freedom.

Freedom is that feeling: to run TO something.

We know when we are free when it's in our hearts. In our bodies.

It's that feeling of curiosity about the world around us. And permission to ask the questions.

It's that feeling of "I learned today — even if it was painful and horrifying." Because almost every moment of new freedom involves figuring out what prison is enslaving us.

The prison might be a job, a relationship, the incorrect goal, the wrong direction, or just a feeling that something is amiss.

"I choose myself" is that feeling of "I can be myself. Even if I don't really know who that is and I never will. Even if I feel like such a failure most of the time."

"I choose myself" is that feeling of "I can run towards something, not FROM something."

My idea list for today: what are the 10 things I am excited to be running TOWARDS?

Hopefully one of those is you.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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