A few weeks ago, Demi Moore posted a curious photo on her Instagram account. It showed her and her ex-husband Bruce Willis sitting around their living room with their three daughters and a couple of their daughters’ boyfriends, each of them clutching identical copies of a book with a title that sounded like it had been written for this moment. “Family book club … How to Rule the World From Your Couch — quarantine edition,” the caption read. Several outlets ran stories on the post, prompting a flurry of excited speculation about Willis’s decision to quarantine with his ex. In the comments, some readers also wondered about the book that this family apparently held in such high regard.
Published in 2009, How to Rule the World From Your Couch, by Laura Day, is a self-help guide that promises to teach you how to find love, land your dream job, and make more lucrative investments — all “without your feet even touching the floor.” Did the author know, a decade ago, that we would all be stuck in our homes right now, trying to get our lives together while the world around us was falling apart? “I am usually prepared for the things that occur in my life,” she told me the other day. “That is the gift of precognition.” A pale, blonde beauty in her early 60s, with prominent cheekbones, vivid blue-gray eyes, and glittering gold earrings hanging nearly to her shoulders, Day claims to be what you might describe as a psychic, though she prefers to refer to herself as a practicing intuitive. Whatever you call her, there can be little doubt that her instincts have brought her prominence. In 2008, she says, her intuition told her to pull her money out of the stock market just before it cratered. As her broker recently confirmed, she sold her entire portfolio over the broker’s objections and let her clients know so that they could decide what to do with their own investments. Within weeks, the market had crashed and Day’s reputation had soared. Day insists it was no big deal. “My clients expect me to be correct most of the time,” she told me.
Since the coronavirus crisis began, Day and her husband, Stephen Schiff, a writer and producer (The Americans, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), have been confined to the townhouse she rents in London, where she has been fielding frantic phone calls from clients. Her consultations, talks, and writings have won her a glittering array of famous fans, among them Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Rock (who once called How To Rule The World From Your Couch “perhaps the greatest book ever written”), and Moore, who wrote the introduction to Practical Intuition, one of Day’s six books (two were New York Times bestsellers).
“I’ve met people with varying degrees of gifts in this area, but she was very different,” Moore, who has known Day for more than three decades, told me. “The depths of insights she brought forward just resonate on such a profound level.” Just two months ago, in early March, Moore visited Day in London after attending Paris Fashion Week, and she was worried that she might have contracted the virus there. Day told Moore that she would be fine. “She was so laid-back, so relaxed, that for the moment, and for the near future, I really knew I was going to be okay.” Still, Moore hasn’t always accepted Day’s predictions so readily. “She’s very no-nonsense,” said Moore. “She doesn’t mess about with trying to butter things up or decorate it to be prettier. And I’ve not always liked what she has to say, or even agreed. When I just want something to be a different way — when I don’t want to believe a project is not good or not gonna work — I’ll argue with her.” Has Day always been right? Moore paused to consider: “I would say, yes.”
Since the start of the lockdown, Day has been holding free online sessions every couple of days for hundreds of devotees, joining the growing ranks of healers and guides who have been delivering their services on platforms designed for corporate teleconferencing. They offer Zoom Reiki, Zoom crystal meditation, Zoom tarot-card readings. Day says that she misses leading workshops in person, but has found that there’s nothing fundamentally different about doing her work online, and feels that her students need what she offers more than ever. Most of them, she says, are not as secure as her corporate clients. “They’re stuck,” she told me. “And a lot of them need to change their careers on a dime. That’s what intuition is good for.”
On a recent Friday evening, about 200 people logged on for her workshop. “Most of us are isolated,” Day told them, sitting in a bright sunroom filled with flowers and candles and boxes of tea. But our isolation and confinement, she added, makes this a good moment to figure out our next steps in life. “Now you can find your perfect job. Now you can mend your relationships. Now this is the perfect time to use intuition.”
Day instructed the students to identify and write down a single, practical question about their lives. “The minute you have a question, you will allow information in,” she said. “Now why don’t we, in that case, get all of our answers all of the time? We don’t get all of our answers because we repress what it is unbearable for us to see.” Sometimes, when a question yields unclear information, that just means it was the wrong question to begin with. Hoping to know when the pandemic will end? “It’s a worldwide problem, and it has a lot of pieces,” Day said. “When is the economic impact going to be over? When is the impact on the stock market going to be over? When is it going to be over in terms of the way we think?” Intuition, she said, can help you figure out the right questions to ask.
Day likes to say that anyone can learn to listen to their intuition and do what she does. Moore, for her part, told me that she always laughs when she hears Day say that. “While I do believe we all have intuitive abilities, we’re not all wired the way she is,” she said. Day’s brain does seem to work in unusual ways, and not always in ways that help her. If you drop her off a few blocks from her house, she told me, she won’t be able to find her way home, and in our conversations she’d often lose the thread, prompting me to repeat the question I’d asked her just moments before. “I have very, very bad ADD,” she said. “For Hanukkah, I asked my husband to give me as a gift a neuro-psych eval, because if I break a hip at this age, they’re gonna think I’m demented because I don’t know what year it is. They’re not going to realize that my brain was like this at 11.”
Day says her brain was shaped in part by childhood trauma. Her mother, she says, was bipolar; she committed suicide two days after Day’s 14th birthday. Day lived with her father, a doctor, and her younger siblings in Peter Cooper Village, and then on the Upper East Side. From an early age, she says, she was aware that she had unusual mental abilities, although she didn’t realize they were unusual at the time. “I knew I could go to another location in my mind, and I did that very consciously because I was always worried my mother was going to die,” she said. “I knew I saw things in the future. I thought everyone did.”
At the workshop, the participants were wondering about many of the same questions that have been preoccupying most of us: how to build or hold on to relationships in the age of social distancing, how to get or keep a job when unemployment is skyrocketing. At one point, Day told them to choose a person with whom to communicate telepathically — someone in a position to help them achieve their aims. A student asked if she could pick a hypothetical boss for a job she wanted. “Absolutely,” Day said. Given the state of the job market, she added, telepathy had never been more useful or important. “And you know,” she continued, “refine your target. If it’s the head of Sony, figure out the person’s name. Having a defined target is really helpful.”
Some psychics offer to read minds or contact the dead. Day thinks she can do those things too, but she admits that she cannot prove this and says those services aren’t part of her professional practice. At times, she sounds less like a psychic than a consultant for McKinsey, speaking of “verifying results” and collecting “data.” As she sees it, her precognitive abilities are inextricable from her intuition, which she defines as “the instant flash of knowing, the impulse in the right direction against all logic.” Everyone has it. The trick is learning how to listen to it, and allowing the “data” it provides to guide your decisions.
When Day instructed the class to write down a question, I found myself asking whether I would finally sell a novel I’d been working on for years. I’m sure other people in the class had far more urgent concerns, but for better or worse, that was the one that entered my mind. Day told us to “become our objects of inquiry,” so I tried to imagine that I was the story and all the characters in it. “Notice how your perceptions change,” Day instructed. “Notice what you’re noticing.” I noticed how weary I felt, the aching feeling behind my eyes, a flutter of anxiety.
Later, in our interview, she performed an impromptu reading of me. Day speaks quickly, in a cascade of long, unfinished sentences. She had been talking about her consultations with corporate clients when she abruptly shifted focus, her eyes meeting mine through the camera lens. I hadn’t told her anything about myself, but now she announced that I was wrestling with a project and that my first attempt to see it to completion had failed. These were just two of several truths she told me over the hours we spent on the phone together — personal facts about my life and career that I’d never written about, and she couldn’t possibly have looked up online. Does that mean that she can read my mind or see the future? I have no idea. But the longer we spoke, the more I hoped so. “Manage your anxiety,” she advised me. “It’s going to work the second time.”