How to suffer like a total pro: Pete Holmes on ego, judgment, and feeling special

Suffering can buffer us, and make us more polished versions of ourselves — if we have the right attitude.

PETE HOLMES: L.A., and we're here in New York. And something that I'll repeat in my head over and over is resist nothing, which seems so silly. But to me, it's a real key to happiness, is trying to-- again, Richard Rohr says, love is learning to say yes to what is. And that is one of the most fundamental spiritual-- I know people don't like that word, and we can talk about that and how I understand that. But one of the most fundamental principles of this thought prism is learning to say yes to what is. It is madness, as Eckhart Tolle says. It's madness to resist what's happening.

You know what I mean? Obviously, if you can change something, if something is unpleasant or physically painful and you can pivot, yeah, resist-- resist. I'm all for that. But if your flight is delayed, you can watch people start suffering. So there's an unpleasant thing happening-- a flight has been delayed. But the suffering happens when you start-- and you can watch this happen from what other people and myself call the witness place. You watch yourself constructing a story. And this is where suffering comes. It's your attachment to how you think things should be.

And of course, I still do this. Please, don't think I'm-- I'm sitting in a chair, I'm not floating. [LAUGHS] But you see the story begin to happen. And you go, Delta or United should do better. They're always doing this. That's the first level. And then you start going, I'm going to miss this thing, or, I'm going to be late to the dinner, and damn it, my ticket cost this much. This is the narrative that we build. Really, something has happened. The flight is delayed. Maybe it was completely preventable, but it's happening. So it's very useful-- I talk about in the book, one of my mantras that I repeat all the day-- not all the day-- all the livelong day isn't just resist nothing, but it's, yes, thank you. And I can't tell you what a shortcut to peace-- real peace, not story peace-- I'm being peaceful, but actual surrender peace is, yes, thank you.

Somebody, for some reason, brought my attention to somebody that was tweeting mean things about me. I don't know why I clicked the link. They were like, what's up with this person? They're tweeting mean things about you. I could have just deleted the email. I click on it. We have this weird masochistic-- so I click on it and I'm reading these, and it took me from such a nice place to such a bad place, until I said, thank you. Oh, wow, you just called bullshit on a really fundamental but flawed happiness system that I have running in my brain-- not my heart, in my brain. Which is that if people love me and if they think I'm really special and if they think I'm really smart-- oh, and this one thinks I'm good looking, this one likes my shirt. I must be worthy of love. Then somebody, just as valid and just as anonymous, says, I don't like him.

And then I start to suffer. There's a hole-- in the bowl that I hold my love, now there's a hole and it's dripping out. And I told my wife, Val, I told her about it. I was telling her how embarrassed I was that here I am with all this knowledge of these principles, but I can be taken down with a series of mean tweets. And I remembered in our discussion to say, thank you. I was like, oh, right. Suffering is like sandpaper, and it's buffing me and it called bullshit on me. And I was like, thank you. And as soon-- so here's the thought. This guy's being an asshole to me and I'm clinging onto it like this. Somebody doesn't like me. I wrote a book, maybe people won't like my book. Maybe they'll think I'm stupid and unworthy.

And who the fuck are you to write a book about God and comedy? Suck a bag of shit, you fucking ass. And I'm clinging to it like this, and you can feel it. This is obviously just a metaphor, but you feel it internally. As soon as you say, yes, thank you, it's still there, but you're giving it space. You're going, all right, what do you got for me? Because the night before, I'd gone to dinner with two friends. One of them I didn't really know. It was a friend of a friend of a friend. And I noticed at the dinner that this person wasn't really paying me much attention. It almost seemed like she was bothered that I was there. Then we went to a comedy club and I performed, and after the show, suddenly, I'm the coolest person in the world. She had 50 questions for me.

She was so excited. How do you do that? How much of that was planned? And I caught myself feeling special, but even more dangerously, feeling worthy of love. I was like, that's right. And my ego's going, you love me now, don't you? Haha! You didn't know you were having dinner with-- [SINGS HIGH NOTE] --this. And I told Val about that, too. I was like, what am I doing? I know that that doesn't matter, that I should be drawing my joy and my peace from a fundamental quiet place that is not circumstantial, that is not derived from someone liking my comedy. But there I was, feeling special. The next day, the tweets. And Val goes, ah, don't you see? As Maya Angelou said, you can't pick it up and you can't put it down. Don't take any of it. And this is for everybody, not just comedians and authors. This is for people.

You need to find a quiet place inside where just the fundamental fact that you are participating in reality is enough value and dignity to draw upon at any moment, and it's not because you had a good set and now they're interested in you. And just on the other side of the coin, you're not unworthy because somebody said you suck. Neither. Both are phenomenons in your consciousness, and you are the quiet thing witnessing. Look at Pete, he thinks he's special. Look at Pete, he thinks he's a piece of shit. Fuck both of that. That's all just the story. That's just me going Delta shouldn't let these delays happen. I'm going to tweet about it. It's all buying into something that's causing a lot of suffering.

So even though my book can seem a little woo-woo, maybe, to people-- I'm assuming it will, at the end of the day, it is very practical to step back and go, who's noticing this frustration? Who's noticing this ego buildup? And who's noticing this sadness? And when you can rest in that, it doesn't become about which set of beliefs you have, which church you belong to, which symbol system or god you like to envision. It doesn't have anything to do with any of that. It's about you experiencing flow and love and peace now, and that's as practical as having-- it's more practical than having a cup of coffee, because you get a headache later. [LAUGHS] So it doesn't have to be like, oh, we belong to-- I don't want anyone to belong to my group, I want people to suffer less. That's it. And I'm still doing it, I'm still playing the game.

But then I remember even what I say in the book. Yes, thank you. Oh, delay? Thank you. Because suffering is the only way we get things done. Richard Rohr says, "You only change through suffering, otherwise, why would you change? Why would you change?" It's working. You're going around being an asshole. [GARBLED WORDS] And it's working, it's paying out. You're getting a job, you're getting a car, you're getting love, you're getting food, you're getting whatever. You need to suffer. Something has to happen that needs to be something that takes you out of yourself and goes-- not just about Tony Robbins-ing yourself and being like, I've been selfish. Something that breaks you out of your identification with the story and your own belief in your worthiness that's based on other people's opinion of you.

Fuck that shit. Fuck that shit. 100 years, all new people. You've gotta be worth something more than just the thoughts of the mammals that happen to be walking around on this space rock right now. That sucks. That's a winless game. It's a waste of time.

  • When you're going through a moment that tests your patience, even causes you to psychologically suffer, sometimes you have to step back and say, "Yes, thank you."
  • Suffering is like sandpaper, and, if we choose, it can buffer us and make us better versions of ourselves.
  • Also, it's critical to find a quiet place within where just the fundamental fact that you are participating in reality imbues you with enough value and dignity to draw upon at any moment. Regardless of exterior sentiments about you.
Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

The history of using the Insurrection Act against Americans

Numerous U.S. Presidents invoked the Insurrection Act to to quell race and labor riots.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • U.S. Presidents have invoked the Insurrection Act on numerous occasions.
  • The controversial law gives the President some power to bring in troops to police the American people.
  • The Act has been used mainly to restore order following race and labor riots.
Keep reading Show less

Experts are already predicting an 'active' 2020 hurricane season

It looks like a busy hurricane season ahead. Probably.

Image source: Shashank Sahay/unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Before the hurricane season even started in 2020, Arthur and Bertha had already blown through, and Cristobal may be brewing right now.
  • Weather forecasters see signs of a rough season ahead, with just a couple of reasons why maybe not.
  • Where's an El Niño when you need one?

Welcome to Hurricane Season 2020. 2020, of course, scoffs at this calendric event much as it has everything else that's normal — meteorologists have already used up the year's A and B storm names before we even got here. And while early storms don't necessarily mean a bruising season ahead, forecasters expect an active season this year. Maybe storms will blow away the murder hornets and 13-year locusts we had planned.

NOAA expects a busy season

According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, there's a 60 percent chance that we're embarking upon a season with more storms than normal. There does, however, remain a 30 percent it'll be normal. Better than usual? Unlikely: Just a 10 percent chance.

Where a normal hurricane season has an average of 12 named storms, 6 of which become hurricanes and 3 of which are major hurricanes, the Climate Prediction Center reckons we're on track for 13 to 29 storms, 6 to 10 of which will become hurricanes, and 3 to 6 of these will be category 3, 4, or 5, packing winds of 111 mph or higher.

What has forecasters concerned are two factors in particular.

This year's El Niño ("Little Boy") looks to be more of a La Niña ("Little Girl"). The two conditions are part of what's called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, which describes temperature fluctuations between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific. With an El Niño, waters in the Pacific are unusually warm, whereas a La Niña means unusually cool waters. NOAA says that an El Niño can suppress hurricane formation in the Atlantic, and this year that mitigating effect is unlikely to be present.

Second, current conditions in the Atlantic and Caribbean suggest a fertile hurricane environment:

  • The ocean there is warmer than usual.
  • There's reduced vertical wind shear.
  • Atlantic tropical trade winds are weak.
  • There have been strong West African monsoons this year.

Here's NOAA's video laying out their forecast:

But wait.

ArsTechnica spoke to hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach, who agrees generally with NOAA, saying, "All in all, signs are certainly pointing towards an active season." Still, he notes a couple of signals that contradict that worrying outlook.

First off, Klotzbach notes that the surest sign of a rough hurricane season is when its earliest storms form in the deep tropics south of 25°N and east of the Lesser Antilles. "When you get storm formations here prior to June 1, it's typically a harbinger of an extremely active season." Fortunately, this year's hurricanes Arthur and Bertha, as well as the maybe-imminent Cristobal, formed outside this region. So there's that.

Second, Klotzbach notes that the correlation between early storm activity and a season's number of storms and intensities, is actually slightly negative. So while statistical connections aren't strongly predictive, there's at least some reason to think these early storms may augur an easy season ahead.

Image source: NOAA

Batten down the hatches early

If 2020's taught us anything, it's how to juggle multiple crises at once, and layering an active hurricane season on top of SARS-CoV-2 — not to mention everything else — poses a special challenge. Warns Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross, "As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season." If, as many medical experts expect, we're forced back into quarantine by additional coronavirus waves, the oceanic waves slamming against our shores will best be met by storm preparations put in place in a less last-minute fashion than usual.

Ross adds, "Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe."

Let's hope this, at least, can be counted on in this crazy year.

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Facebook finally adds option to delete old posts in batches

Got any embarrassing old posts collecting dust on your profile? Facebook wants to help you delete them.

Facebook
Technology & Innovation
  • The feature is called Manage Activity, and it's currently available through mobile and Facebook Lite.
  • Manage Activity lets users sort old content by filters like date and posts involving specific people.
  • Some companies now use AI-powered background checking services that scrape social media profiles for problematic content.
Keep reading Show less