When you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy.
Altucher has a refreshingly madcap style and, unlike 99 per cent of other bloggers, delivers a point to his posts, rather than just yabbering about his new shoes, cat, sandwich or why he HATES someone more famous than him.
Anyway, I was drawn to one of his posts in particular, How to Deal With Crappy People, which makes some sweeping but interesting points about personality types, in particular those individuals who drain the life out of you with their negativity, bad attitude and nastiness.
Altucher describes them as "people who will do you harm, no matter what you do, for no reason at all. They never will get it. They will say and do things to you and they will never ever understand how evil they are".
Using the term "evil" might be hyperbolic, but you get what he means; some people are just arseholes - they're unhappy, they're in pain and, instead of looking for a way up and out of their burning pit of shit, they find ways to drag you down with them.
Often, our initial impulse when confronted by this type of person - especially if they're a friend, relative, colleague or, worst of all, your partner - is to do battle, to try to make them see sense, force them to understand the full enormity of their douchedom but Altucher reckons this is pointless.
His pithy summary of this futility is: "When you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy."
Amen, to that.
I think a lot of people lose sight of this truth which, put another way, is that when someone hands you a poop sandwich, you do not have to eat it. In fact, you don't even have to take the plate from them.
I have experienced this about a gajillion times on this blog since we began back in 2006, but, many, many times I chose not only to take possession of the sandwich, but to gulp it down.
This is what the pig wants (just to mix the metaphors a little more).
Altucher's advice is something I've learnt the hard way, but now observe 98 per cent of the time in my life, especially with trolls on this blog and on Twitter.
"Completely ignore them," he writes. "Don't think about them. Don't talk to them. Don't write them. Most important: Don't give them advice.
"They will NEVER listen to your advice. It's arrogant and stupid to think they will. It will only lead to more cycles of pain for you. Giving advice to crappy people will only result in more pain for you. That's the only possible result. Much better to be happy than to flush knotted up brown advice down a toilet that caused you agony to push out. This is hard.
"Most important: Never gossip about them behind their backs. Just completely disregard. We don't care about their happiness or how evil they are. We only care about you. It's hard to do. Never ever talk about them behind their backs. Repeat this 500 times. This is hard also. Because it's an addiction," he writes.
It's great advice, especially the part about gossiping.
How many feuds have you had that are just about to die out, then you'll say the wrong thing to the wrong person, your crappy enemy hears it, says something inflammatory about you and it starts all over again.
You know when you ring a girl to ask her out and SHE NEVER CALLS BACK? It sucks doesn't it? It sucks that she didn't even have the energy to reject you over the phone. She just ignored you.
That's how it feels for crappy people when you ignore them. You're not giving them what they want most of all - your attention, your time, your energy.
Crappy people are most often unhappy, but they're also crappy people because they insist on making others feel unhappy too. I have had former friends who fit this description and that's why they're former friends.
Unfortunately you can't just drop crappy colleagues, but it is achievable: you just don't engage, you let them have their say, but you also let it flow over you (and make sure you keep diary notes if they're plotting mischief). Other than that, ignore them.
With relatives who are crappy people, well, it's tough, but I think most of us have reached a point with someone close to us, where we've tried and tried to help them and then realised - "Wow, you're a dickhead, no more, you're blanked."
And then you feel good. A little guilty, but still better than when you had to deal with their crap on a regular basis.
Toughest of all is when you come to the realisation the person you're dating, married to, or have a child with is a crappy person.
If there is no kid involved, I say get out. Most crappy people are driven by some kind of neurosis and neuroses rarely get better unless confronted honestly, courageously and continuously. The crappy person usually lacks these virtues, so their neuroses just get worse, as will your life with them.
If a person makes you feel bad more than they make you feel good, that is a crappy person. They're not good for you.
If there are children involved? My advice? Stay calm, never raise your voice, never get aggressive, keep a diary of everything that happens between you and them, get a good lawyer and be patient.
Your life will get better.