The Voluntary Life

31 May 2016

248 Thinking Rationally Part 6: Your Superpower For Self-Determination


This episode is about the role of rational thinking in life. Rational thinking is a discipline of self-mastery, similar to the discipline of achieving physical fitness. I tackle some misconceptions about rational thinking and answer these questions:

  • What does cognitive science tell us about thinking rationally?
  • What are the costs of thinking rationally, and what are the benefits?

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 248


21 May 2016

247 Thinking Rationally Part 5: Reason And Emotions

If you want to think rationally, what role do your emotions play? Is there a conflict between thinking rationally and experiencing feelings? In this episode, I explain the history of ideas around reason and emotion, and provide an overview of how to think rationally about feelings. Although the Enlightenment was a revolution in thinking rationally, Enlightenment philosophers never resolved their contradictions about the relationship between reason and the emotions, leaving a legacy of confusion about this topic. Instead of slavishly following feelings or repressing and ignoring them, rational thinking gives you a deeper, richer emotional life. Rational thinking enables you to pay attention to your feelings and make use of their valuable information.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 247


15 May 2016

246 Thinking Rationally Part 4: Listener Feedback On Faith Versus Reason


So far, the Thinking Rationally series has generated more listener feedback than any of my previous episodes! In this episode, I respond to feedback on the topic of faith versus reason. Here are the questions covered:

  • Can reason be accommodated within religious faith?
  • Don't we all live by some kind of faith, anyway?
  • Do I argue that we are "nothing more than matter in motion"?
  • Did I present a fair history of Christianity?

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 246




8 May 2016

245 Thinking Rationally Part 3: Anti-Rational Ideas


Rational thinking transforms your life, by giving you autonomy and the freedom of the individual. Since it spread during the Enlightenment, rational thinking has also transformed society and created the modern world. Yet many influential philosophers explicitly rejected rational thinking, because they understood where it would lead and did not like what they saw. This episode is about anti-rational ideas. I cover how these ideas emerged as a reaction to the Enlightenment, and why such anti-rational ideas are so popular today among contemporary philosophers.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 245



30 April 2016

244 Thinking Rationally Part 2: Imaginary Creatures and Machines


The biggest challenge of thinking rationally is not learning new techniques, it is overcoming irrational and anti-rational ways of thinking. In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how religious faith conflicts with your rational faculty. This episode is about a secular way of thinking that will derail your rationality. It is a way of thinking about society that seems to be very rational, but is in fact an abuse of reason. Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:
The Counter Revolution Of Science by Friedrich Hayek

Listen To Episode 244



23 April 2016

243 Thinking Rationally Part 1: Faith Versus Reason


Rational thinking is the engine behind all the great achievements of the modern world. It is the vital tool for making your own choices and for freeing yourself from prejudices and indoctrination. This series of episodes will summarise all the best ideas that I've found about how to think rationally. Part 1 uses the example of the history of Christianity in Europe to explain the conflict between religion and rational thinking.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 243






14 April 2016

242 Financial Pros And Cons Of Home Ownership


Home ownership is often touted as a financially savvy choice, but is it? In this week's episode, I explore some of the financial pros and cons of buying your own home for those interested in financial independence.

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 242


6 April 2016

241 Selling Our Home To Travel The World


As part of adopting a minimalist lifestyle and becoming expats, we sold everything that would not fit into one suitcase each. The biggest part of our downsizing was selling our apartment and all the furniture in it. This episode is about the practical and psychological lessons from selling the flat, getting rid of all our stuff, and changing from being homeowners to travelling renters.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 241


23 March 2016

240 Freedom Lovin' Interview— Job Free


Back in January, I had a fun chat with Kevin Koskella on the Freedom Lovin podcast. Kevin and I spoke about the ideas in my book, Job Free, as well as life in Panama, entrepreneurship, and the permanent portfolio. Here's a recording of the interview.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 240



15 March 2016

239 Minimalism And Clothes


Preparing for a life of travel involved getting rid of anything that I could not take with me in one suitcase. One big source of clutter to address was clothes. My clothes took up a lot of space, yet I hardly ever wore many of them. As part of my extreme decluttering, I got rid of every item of clothing beyond a minimal set that would fit with my one-suitcase plan. The process included making an inventory, deciding what to keep or get rid of, and selling or giving away a huge amount of clothes. Whether you plan to travel or not, this episode will give you some food for thought about changing your approach to clothes.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 239


6 March 2016

238 Zero Data


This week’s episode is about how I implemented Zero Data: having all my data in the cloud. This has been an essential part of adopting a digital nomad lifestyle but is also relevant for anyone who wants a more minimalist, clutter-free life.

I digitised any kind of data that could be digitised, such as music, movies, photos, books, and documents. Once digital, I moved all my data into cloud storage of one kind or another. Then I got rid of all data clutter that was part of my stuff. I got rid of all my CDs, DVDs, Photos, spare computers, etc. Now all my data lives in the cloud.

In the episode, I explain how I implemented a zero data system, and I outline some of the key issues to address. These include privacy (encryption), backup, redundancy, and sync vs archive.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 238


22 February 2016

236 The Free State Project: Interview With Stephanie and Brian


The Free State Project is a social experiment encouraging 20,000 people interested in "liberty in our lifetime" to move together to New Hampshire. The idea is to create an intentional community of like-minded people who are interested in personal and political liberty. By concentrating people with similar values in one place, the aim is to have a greater impact on the local culture and thereby generate more freedom. In this episode, I interview Stephanie Murphy and Brian Sovryn—two members of the Free State Project— about their experiences in New Hampshire as part of this community.

Show Notes:


Listen to Podcast 236



31 January 2016

235 A Better World Starts With A Clean Bedroom (School Sucks Interview)

In this week's episode, Brett Veinotte from the School Sucks Podcast and Jake Desyllas from The Voluntary Life discuss the process of upgrading and maintaining positive habits. Topic covered include:

  • Habits may seem trivial, but the are the most important part of a productivity system
  • Two approaches to change: slow and steady vs. New Year's resolution
  • Triggers for activating habits vs. friction against habits
  • How do we do it? morning routine, 7 Weeks (Android app), Jake uses Way of Life (iOS)
  • No matter what else is going on, do the simple things; even though these seemingly minor habits are the first thing that fall by the wayside when we're really busy
  • Jake: "Habits dramatically reduce the amount of willpower and brainpower required to get things done. Once you have implemented a habit and can do it on autopilot, you conserve willpower and brainpower, helping you get more done."
  • Willpower is a scarce resource; it degrades decision to decision
  • Identifying resources beyond willpower
  • Jake: "Habits are easiest to adopt when they are simple to understand, when you minimize any friction at the start of the action, when there are clear environmental triggers that tell your unconscious to start the habit, and when you have feedback (rewards) for completion."
Show Notes:




26 January 2016

234 Radical Personal Finance Interview— Job Free


This week's episode comes from Joshua Sheats, host of the Radical Personal Finance podcast:

"Most of us in the Radical Personal Finance community are pursuing our own financial independence. And most of us want to get there as quickly as possible. But, most of us only have one idea of one way to get there. Did you know there are a bunch of different ways to go job-free and gain financial freedom? I'm excited to bring you my interview with Jake Desyllas, author of "Job Free: Four Ways to Quit the Rat Race and Achieve Financial Freedom on Your Terms.""

Show Notes:
Job Free by Jake Desyllas
Radical Personal Finance Podcast


Listen to Episode 234


18 January 2016

233 The Next Level — Horizons of Focus Part 2 (School Sucks Interview)


This episode is Part 2 of the discussion between Brett Veinotte and Jake Desyllas about using Horizons of Focus for productivity and purpose. In this episode, we conclude our discussion by talking about how to identify your vision for your future, and how to find purpose in life.

Show Notes:


13 January 2016

232 The Next Level — Horizons of Focus Part 1 (School Sucks Interview)

Brett Veinotte from School Sucks podcast interviews Jake Desyllas about using Horizons of Focus for productivity and purpose. In this episode (part 1) we introduce the concept of horizons of focus and talk about the best ways to identify actions, projects, goals, and areas or responsibility.

Show Notes


28 December 2015

231 Liberty Entrepreneurs Interview: Financial Freedom and Exiting the Rat Race


I was recently interviewed by Ashe from the Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast about starting a business, selling a business, and financial independence.  We talked about my background, becoming an entrepreneur, selling a company, and life afterwards. In this episode, you can hear about the people and books that have influenced me, and some hacks and suggestions for anyone interested in starting a business.

Show Notes:

16 December 2015

230 How I Crowdsourced Feedback on my New Book, "Job Free"


My new book,  Job Free: Four Ways to Quit the Rat Race and Achieve Financial Freedom on Your Termsis now available. I had an amazing experience getting feedback during the writing of this book. 165 people agreed to be beta readers during development. I received edited versions of the manuscript (with detailed comments) back from 85 people. That's a lot of feedback!

This episode is about the process of crowdsourcing feedback, using the example of my experience writing Job Free. I describe the workflows, tools and benefits of crowdsourcing feedback. I also tell you all about my new book, and explain how it can help you achieve real freedom in your own life.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 230


12 December 2015

229 Travel and Life on Bitcoin: Interview with Tuur and Becca

In this episode, Tuur and Becca talk about life as perpetual travellers, living on bitcoin. They describe how they got interested in bitcoin and how it has become an integral part of their international lifestyle. They also explain how they cope with the roller-coaster volatility of living from bitcoin.

Tuur was one of the first investment newsletter writers to recommend bitcoin.  He describes his own journey in the industry, and shares his thoughts about where bitcoin is headed.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 229


30 November 2015

228 Making Sense Of Civilization


This episode shares some fascinating ideas about how to understand culture, identity and civilization. The historian Steve Davies argues that rather than being at the end of a long story of "western civilization", we are at the beginning of something radically new, unplanned and totally alien to the historical cultures of both the "West" and everywhere else before circa 1800. I've summarised these ideas in the podcast, but I also recommend that you watch the thought-provoking lecture by Steve Davies.

Show Notes:
Stephen Davies on Western Civilisation
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

Listen to Episode 228



16 November 2015

227 Review Of The Better Angels Of Our Nature By Steven Pinker


This episode is a review of a fascinating book, The Better Angels Of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker. The following quote summarises the book's main argument:

"Believe it or not—and I know that most people do not—violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence. The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is an unmistakable development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children."
Steven Pinker

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 227


5 November 2015

226 The Mindset For Financial Independence


This episode is about three concepts that I've found helpful for managing money. These concepts are about the big-picture when it comes to money, rather than the details. I think they express the mindset for achieving financial independence. Here is a summary of the ideas discussed:
  1. Be Your Own CFO: managing your own money as you would manage the finance of a business.
  2. Be Investment-Oriented, Not Consumption-Oriented
  3. Be A Passive Investor. 
I've just set up a Facebook group for TVL listeners. Hope to see you at The Voluntary Life Community on Facebook!

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 226


26 October 2015

225 Comparative Advantage Is Mind-blowing


This is a short episode to explain a key idea from economics. Comparative advantage is a simple idea, but its implications are mind-blowing when you really get it. It is a process that most people don't understand, but it is at the root of everything that we create. Comparative advantage is intimately linked to what it means to be human.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 225