The Voluntary Life

16 February 2017

280 How To Disagree


Although it might not seem like it, disagreeing is a skill. To disagree well is not only an important skill, but also a learnable one. Most people disagree so poorly that they fail to even make an argument. This podcast episode presents Paul Graham's excellent article "How To Disagree" and discusses the concept of a hierarchy of disagreement.

Show Notes:



7 February 2017

279 Designing A Life Without Regrets (Featuring Hannah Braime)


This week Hannah and I discuss ways to design a life without regrets. Hannah talks about how to use journaling to stay conscious of what really matters to you.. I explain my own journaling practice inspired by her approach- Each week I complete the following sentence stems:
  • The most courageous expression of my feelings at the moment would be…
  • The best opportunity for quality time this week is …
  • If I were to let myself be happier, I would …
  • The most extraordinary thing that I can work on these days is …
  • The best thing I can do to get more transparency in what I do these days is …
  • The best opportunity for automation in what I do these days is …
  • The thing am I doing regularly that I least inspired by is …
  • We are at our best these days when …
  • The thing I am most concerned about going wrong this week is  …
  • The way I would handle that is …
  • The thing I am most resisting at the moment is …
  • The most audacious goal that haven't fully admitted to myself is …
Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:






31 January 2017

278 Three Principles Of Philosophy Applied To Parenting


This episode is about three principles of philosophy applied to parenting:
  1. Children own themselves (all people are self-owners).
  2. Parents have positive obligations towards their children (all individuals are responsible for their own actions).
  3. It is wrong to initiate aggression against children (initiating aggression against anyone is unjustifiable).
Philosophical principles don't provide detailed prescriptions for parenting, but they do give a framework for understanding which parenting practices are ethical.

If a principle is valid, then all its logical implications are valid too, even if those implications challenge widely-accepted practices. In the episode, I show how these principles can be applied to reevaluate many common parenting practices.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 278



22 January 2017

277 Why It Is Worth Striving To Achieve A Job Free Life


What will you do when you reach financial independence and job freedom? In this episode, I suggest some of the major opportunities that make this lifestyle worth striving to achieve, based on my own experience. Good luck on your journey, and let me know what you think!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 277



9 January 2017

276 Society Is Your Relationships


Paul Johnson's book, Intellectuals, provides many examples of the disastrous personal lives of intellectuals like Jean Jaques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Why do so many intellectuals—who famously argue for a better society— behave so badly in their personal relationships? Johnson suggests a few explanations, such as their need for attention and desire to post-rationalise bad decisions.

There is also something about the way that these intellectuals think that leads them to neglect the people close to them. They share a faulty view of society, from which it makes sense for them to care so little about their personal relationships. In this episode, I argue that a correct understanding of society leads to investing in your personal relationships, because your society is your relationships.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 276




27 December 2016

275 The Best Books On Productivity


This week's episode is about the most helpful books I've read on productivity. During the episode, I explain why I recommend each book and what you can expect from them.

Show Notes:




19 December 2016

274 Imaginary Teams


Personal freedom comes from individual choice and individual responsibility, as opposed to collective identity and collective responsibility. This week's episode is about an idea that I find helpful in achieving personal freedom: Don’t join imaginary teams. Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 274



13 December 2016

273 The Best Books On Entrepreneurship


This week's episode is about the most helpful books I've read on entrepreneurship. During the episode, I explain why I recommend each book and what you can expect from them. As mentioned in the episode, if you want to get a free copy of my book "Negotiate For Mutual Profit", sign up to my mailing list here.

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 273


4 December 2016

272 Why I Choose Peaceful Parenting


I choose to parent without violence or aggression. This means I eschew various actions that a lot of parents still consider acceptable- actions such as spanking, hitting, yelling, psychotropic drugs, circumcision, and so on. In this episode, I explain my own reasons for choosing to practice peaceful parenting.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 272



27 November 2016

271 The Best Books To Start Learning About Financial Independence


Financial independence is one of the core topics of this podcast. I've covered it in many different ways, including a four part introductory series. This week's episode suggests a list of books that will give you an overview of the issues involved in pursuing financial independence.

I've tried to keep the list relatively short. Some of the books are must-reads, whereas others are suggested for specific purposes or additional information only. I've avoided country-specific books, so these books are relevant regardless of where you live. During the episode I explain why I recommend each book and what you can expect from them.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 271


21 November 2016

270 Harry Browne's Article "A Gift for My Daughter"


This week’s episode discusses a very thought-provoking article by the late Harry Browne, called  “A Gift for My Daughter”. It includes a recording of Harry reading his own words.

Harry’s ideas had a huge influence on me, but I don’t agree with him about everything. This article is particularly interesting because it explains an important truth, and yet I think it also demonstrates one of Harry’s most significant blindspots.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 270


13 November 2016

269 Review of A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine


This week I am joined by my wife Hannah Braime to discuss William B. Irvine's book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. This book argues that the philosophy of stoicism is relevant to modern life and can be used to help you live well, according to your own values. We recorded the episode for the Psychology Book Club. I am sharing it here because the themes are highly relevant to The Voluntary Life.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 269


8 November 2016

268 A Listener Question About Family Pressure, Expensive Weddings, And Kids


A listener posted a question in The Voluntary Life Community Facebook group. He asked:

How do you cope with family and friend pressure to buy bigger and better and to have an expensive wedding and kids, which leaves you with no ability to save and get ahead in life?

What do you think? Listen to this week's episode to hear my response.

Listen To Episode 268


31 October 2016

267 Consumerism Vs Saving: Four Theories


Why do people spend so much of their disposable income on consumption and save so little towards their own financial independence? There are many competing theories that try to answer this question. In this episode, I present four theories:
  • Theory 1: People are brainwashed into consumerism by advertising.
  • Theory 2: Spending escalates as people try to keep up with their peer groups.
  • Theory 3: Central bank policies have undermined saving.
  • Theory 4: Spending is the path of least resistance, so you won't save unless you have sufficient motivation.
Which (if any) of these theories have merit? Is there a better explanation? Let me know what you think!

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 267


23 October 2016

266 Self-Sufficiency And DIY: Good For Financial Independence?


Many people who write about financial independence emphasise the benefits of self-sufficiency and DIY as part of their lifestyle. Will it help your journey to financial independence to try to be self-sufficient? Does it make financial sense to do your own repairs and renovations? This week's episode provides a different perspective.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 266


15 October 2016

265 A Review Of Escape From Childhood By John Holt


John Holt was a leading figure in the school reform movement, who became increasingly interested in how children learn outside of school—what he called “unschooling.” He wrote many influential books about alternatives to schooling and he helped start the modern homeschooling movement.

In his book Escape From Childhood, the subject of this week's episode, he provided thought-provoking insights into many problems with how adults treat children, and a vision of how children could be treated with dignity and given greater freedom.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 265


3 October 2016

264 Thomas Stanley's Wealth Index


Financial independence is one of the core topics of The Voluntary Life. I've heard from listeners at all stages of the journey to FI— just beginning,  already achieved FI, and all the steps in-between. In a previous episode, I explained the milestones along the journey to FI, to help judge how far you have progressed if you are working towards this goal. In this week's episode, I share another tool for judging your progress.

In his book Stop Acting Rich, author Thomas Stanley explained a way to calculate your relative net worth, taking into account both your age and your income. He used this calculation to create a wealth index, which you can use to judge whether you are on the path to FI, or whether you are burning more of your income than you should.

In the episode I explain how the wealth index is calculated and provide commentary on how to use it. There is also a free website that does the calculation for you.

Show Notes:



Listen To Episode 264


27 September 2016

263 Thinking Rationally Part 9: Rational Ethics


As part of the thinking rationally series, this episode is about rational ethics. In the episode I provide a historical overview, focussing on the revolution in moral philosophy that happened during the Enlightenment. Although there was amazing progress during the Enlightenment, the contradictions of enlightenment thinkers eventually led them to lose their way on ethics and abandon a rational approach to morality. Understanding this background is helpful if you want to use rational thinking to make sense of ethics for yourself.

Show Notes:


11 September 2016

261 Thinking Rationally Part 7: The Irrationality Of Politics


Politics brings out the worst in people. As the economist Joseph Schumpeter put it,
"The typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again."
This week's episode is about the problem of political irrationality. Why are political beliefs so irrational? How does this affect your life? Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 261



4 September 2016

260 Overcoming Negative Emotions


Before I tell you about this week's episode, I'm overjoyed to share that our daughter Freya was born in August! Everything went well and she is a wonderful little person.

This week’s podcast is a little different. It is a review of Peter Breggin's book, Guilt Shame And Anxiety: Understanding And Overcoming Negative Emotions. This episode was originally published on another podcast that I do with my wife Hannah, The Psychology Book Club Podcast.

I'm including this episode here because Peter Breggin's book is very relevant to many topics covered on The Voluntary Life. In the episode, Hannah and I discuss the challenging ideas presented in the book and how they can help you achieve greater psychological freedom.

Show Notes

Listen to Episode 260


28 August 2016

259 Breaking Limits In Business And Life (The Limit Breaker Interview)


Earlier this year, I was interviewed on The Limit Breaker podcast. Fumnanya, the host of the show, asked me lots of interesting questions on the topic of breaking limits in business and life. We talked about my influences, founding and selling a business, the path to a job free life, and much more.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 259


21 August 2016

258 Getting Started With Productivity Systems (Valiant Growth Interview)


This week's episode is all about getting started with productivity systems. It is an interview that I did recently on the Valiant Growth podcast.  A lot of people want to start using productivity tools and systems, but feel overwhelmed by all the options, jargon, and complexity. This episode will give you clear pointers about how to start simple and achieve massive improvements to your productivity.

Show Notes
Listen To Episode 258


14 August 2016

257 How To Rock The Someday Maybe List


This week's episode is about one of my favourite productivity techniques: the Someday Maybe List. It is an idea from David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. Many people focus on other aspects of GTD and ignore this particular idea, but I love it. In the episode, I make suggestions about how to get the most out of a kick-ass someday maybe list. Topics covered include:

  • The Purpose of Someday Maybe List
  • The benefits of managing your list in Evernote
  • How tagging, sorting, images, and other Evernote features can make your Someday Maybe List more inspiring and useful.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 257