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James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, chess master, investor and writer. He has started and run more than 20 companies, including StockPickr, and sold several of those businesses for large exits. He has published 11 books, and is a frequent contributor to publications including The ... more

The Only Thing That Makes Me Happier

Date: Sunday, June 2, 2019 11:47 AM EST

I was ashamed of everything. I moved about 100 miles away so there was no chance I could run into anyone I knew.

I didn’t have a job. It was snowing every day. I never left my new, tiny home because I was afraid I’d cry outside. Like my dad when he had become depressed 15 years earlier. 

I had no infrastructure inside me to find hope.

I’d lock myself in a small office. My tiny daughters occasionally knocked on the door, a ball in their hands. “Daddy, do you want to play?”

But then something happened.

I couldn’t sleep at all. I was too anxious. So at 6 a.m. I’d go to the local cafe. One day someone brought a Scrabble set.

A few of us started to play. Soon it became a regular thing. Who were they? Nobody. All of us, nobody.

First one game, then two games were going.

I had zero friends from the disaster I had left behind. But after Scrabble, sometimes one or two of would break off and we’d take a walk around the Revolutionary War ruins that littered themselves around town.

What was there to talk about? Scraps. Mistakes.

We all had been degraded and humiliated by people better than us. We were afraid.

I can’t believe the things I shared. The things she shared. He shared. They shared.

A friend listens. A friend is curious.

A friend doesn’t judge.

A friend offers suggestions but doesn’t force their solutions.

A friend laughs.

I’m not ashamed to ask for help from a friend. I’m pretty much ashamed to ask for help from anyone else.

Sometimes I meet a new person and BAM! Magic! We don’t need to be friends for 40 years. We can’t stop talking.

Sometimes I really like people but I can also sense I can never really be friends with them. Eventually they drift away.

I miss my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Some friends can pick right up even if it’s been years.

Friends don’t expect a lot from me and I don’t expect a lot from them. Then… guess what? Our expectations are always exceeded 100%.

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