How can I compete with people who are better than I am in every way? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by James Altucher, Blogger, author, social media, investor, Wall Street investor, on Quora:

Don't compete with others. That's stressful. It will cause great unhappiness. Then when you die, will you say, "Man, I just wish I was better than those people who were better than me in every way"?

What does it mean, better than you in every way? Would you honestly change positions with them?

I wanted to be a better version of myself. I had struggled and cried and people left me and I lost it all.

So I did four things. I tried to improve just 1% a day at each of these four things:

  • Physical health
  • Emotional health
  • Mental health
  • Spiritual health


1) What does 1% a day mean?

Nothing, really. It just means get a little better each day. It's hard to quantify. But the important thing to know is this:

1% better each day, compounded, is 3800% better each year. 1% worse each day, compounded, means you lose 97% of your value each year.

Big difference.

2) What is physical health?

Simple: Just sleep 7-9 hours. Move a little more each day. Eat a little better each day (which means: less processed sugars).

A good book to read: The New Evolution Diet by Art De Vany. It's not a diet book. But google Art and you get to see what an 80-year-old guy looks like if he's been living this way all his life.

3) What is emotional health?

Be around people you love. If someone is toxic, the toxic poison will spread to every part of your body. Emotions lead to thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions. Actions will harm your body and the bodies of others if they have toxicity in them.

A good book to read: The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz.

4) What is mental health?

The idea muscle is like any other muscle: if you don't use it, you lose it.

Leg muscles atrophy after just two weeks of non-use. You actually need physical therapy to walk again.

And yet, how often do we really use our creativity? Come up with ideas.

Write down ten ideas a day. Does that mean you use them? No! It's just practice. Throw them out.

But I guarantee within six months you will be an idea machine.

Good book to read: Where Do Good Ideas Come From? by Steven Johnson

5) What is spiritual health?

It's not religion. You can be religious if you want. There are many admirable things about almost every religion.

But, just like ideas are a muscle, so is gratitude. And often we let it atrophy. We get overwhelmed (well, I do; I can't speak for others) by "he said, she said" as soon as we wake up. Or our fears about career, or money, or anger, or whatever.

It's also too easy (a cop out), to be grateful for the simple in our lives. "I'm grateful for the sunshine." This is BS. It's like lifting one-pound weights and expecting huge muscles.

Find the hardest things going on in your life right now. Three of them. List them. Now figure out ways to be grateful for them. Can you find ten things? This will make your gratitude muscle sweat.

Good book to read: Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

When you do this, you will be able to compete with everyone around you. There is no stopping you.

Think about it: you will 3800% better (38 times better!) in one year. Nobody does that. That's what superheroes do.

You will be a superhero. Then everyone else will be worrying how they can compete with you. Trust me, I know this.

Here's another way to become a better version of yourself: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Reinventing Yourself.

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