Stop Listening to My Podcast
What are you doing?! Didn’t you read the title of this episode?
I’m begging you: Stop listening to my podcast.
You’re still here? Okay, I’ll see what I can do to persuade you to stop listening to my podcast.
I’ll admit it: It bums me the fuck out that there aren’t more people listening to my podcast. I’ve been delivering an episode every week for the past four years, and I haven’t seen any growth at all for the past three of those years. If anything, my stats tell me I get fewer downloads than I did three years ago.
Before I get to why I want you to stop listening to my podcast, I have to be clear: Sometimes it makes me sad that more people aren’t listening to my podcast. And it’s not that I want to be rich and famous.
I decided what I wanted when I made the decision, four years ago, to double down on being a writer and a podcaster. I told myself, “I want to make a living creating. I don’t want creating to be merely a marketing strategy for other things?”
So, I sold everything I owned, and moved to the “third world”. I knew I would struggle to make money for awhile, but I never knew the struggle would take this long. I never knew it would be this hard.
That’s the reason I wish more people listened to my podcast. I don’t need to make enough money to buy a Bentley, or even a Toyota. I just want to make enough money from my writing and podcasting that I can do more writing and podcasting.
I wrote my first book ten years ago. I moved to South America four years ago. I don’t want to write so I can make money, I want to make money so I can write. And that’s the only thing that makes it fucking heartbreaking about not having more people listening to my podcast.
What I learned on my media fast
But there’s no denying that people shouldn’t be listening to my podcast. At the beginning of this year, I tried an experiment. I went on a “media fast.“ I stopped listening to podcasts. I stopped checking Twitter. I even stopped reading books. I stopped multi-tasking, and I started uni-tasking.
At first, it was agonizing. I felt like I needed more stimulation. But I powered through it, and it was like rummaging through the junk piled up in your dead grandmother’s dusty attic. I was surprised what I discovered underneath all of that clutter: My own thoughts.
Instead of listening to a podcast while cooking and eating lunch, I simply focused on cooking and eating lunch. If I was chatting with a friend on WhatsApp, I wasn’t switching to Instagram between messages. I was only chatting with that friend. I watched the sunset almost every day, and I didn’t post pictures of those sunsets to Instagram. I just sat there and watched the colors change, like some enlightened Neanderthal.
Eventually, things started bubbling to the surface. After lunch, I would jot down ideas on a little whiteboard. While watching sunsets, ideas would come to me for my next book, or for podcast episodes like this one.
Creating is better than consuming
It was hard to admit it to myself: Creating is better than consuming. The more you consume, the less you can create.
Some people will protest: “If you aren’t consuming, where are you going to get inspiration!?” “Inspiration” is bullshit. You’ve seen enough things in your life, and you’ve had enough damn ideas — you never did shit with most of them (neither did I). Your need for “inspiration” is a fear of your own thoughts. It’s a fear of doing the hard work of processing what’s in your head, breaking out of the bullshit scripts that society writes for you, and having an actual thought. A true, sometimes uncomfortable, original thought.
You don’t need inspiration. You need action.
I can’t deny, from my own experience of going on a “media fast,” that much of the time, when I was consuming, it was standing in my way of creating. And wasn’t “creating” what I wanted to do in the first place?
This was an uncomfortable realization. I even had a couple of friends point out that reading books is a form of procrastination. Sacrilege! But, they’re right. How many books have you read? Can you recite what you learned from those books? Have you truly taken action on what you learned, or did you just move on to the next book?
Everyone’s trying to get a piece of you
As you can see, for me, as someone who creates, as someone who writes books, and makes a podcast, this was a tough realization.
I had to search myself for why I create what I create.
I concluded that, more than anything, I create for my own self-development.
In this world, everyone is trying to get a piece of you. Facebook wants your eyeballs, and your browsing history. The news media wants your attention. They’ll manipulate your emotions. They’ll try to fool you into thinking there’s something virtuous about “being informed.” But it’s all bullshit.
On top of it, addictive substances are all around us. How many lives have been destroyed by alcohol, or addictions to prescription drugs? Go to a hospital and look in the vending machine: Sugar, sugar, and more sugar. It’s so pervasive, we assume sugar isn’t putting us in the hospital. And how many of us swear we can’t function in the morning unless we have a piping hot Thermos of a psychoactive drug? Yeah, caffeine. This shit ain’t right.
Stoicism is not the cause of meaning. It’s the effect of meaning.
You’re probably wondering what the fuck the news, Facebook, and coffee have to do with my podcast. As I said, I primarily make this show and write my books to help myself.
Because it brings me meaning. That meaning is strong enough to motivate me to take a break from listening to podcasts and reading books, to say fuck the news, fuck Facebook, fuck alcohol on every corner, fuck the sugar all around us, fuck the caffeine in every cup.
Some people would describe my mindset as “stoic.” My unpopular opinion is that Stoicism isn’t useful as a philosophy. It rings hollow in my ears. Stoicism is not the cause a meaningful life. A stoic mindset, instead, is the effect of a meaningful life.
All of the things I described can be pleasurable. You could call my media fast a “dopamine fast.” As Dr. Robert Lustigtaught us on episode 185, pleasure — which is triggered by dopamine, is different from happiness, which is triggered by serotonin. In fact, pleasure and happiness are polar opposites.
I don’t shun pleasures by way of stoicism. I don’t shun pleasures for the sake of shunning pleasures. I do it because none of that “pleasurable” stuff will help me be the human I want to be. None of that will help me with this journey. This journey of creating. I create so that I can create.
If you don’t consume, maybe you’ll create?
And so who would I be if I expected you to listen to my podcast?
But the thing I hope for myself is the same thing that I hope for you: I want you to break out of the “matrix” of bullshit that rules the thoughts and actions of so many of us. I want you to stop consuming, and start creating.
And if you’re trying to escape the bullshit through your own discipline, A.K.A. “stoicism” — you’re going to have a bad time. There’s nothing I can say to you, no “inspiration” I can provide, which will make it happen.
So, yes, it makes me sad sometimes that I don’t have more podcast listeners. But then I tell myself, “David, if they aren’t consuming, maybe they’re out there creating.” I have no choice. That has to make me happy.
The reasons that are strong enough to help you break free — you can only find those in yourself. You have to listen to the voice inside your head, and have a conversation with it. And you can’t hear that voice, if mine is still ringing in your ears.
So if you can find the meaning within you, if you have the motivation to become a better you, you have everything you need. Stop listening to my podcast. Go make your own podcast! But I’ll still be making mine, as long as I can.