You can’t always be achieving. You can’t always win, always give, and always be making an impact. Sometimes you have to receive too. That’s just how the universe works.
Imagine the beach, for example. Even when the water recedes back from the shore, it’s still the ocean! You have to balance your “ins” with your “outs” in order to achieve the peace you are looking for.
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I discussed the importance of being equally grateful for the busy times and the quiet ones with successful podcast host, author, and comedian Pete Holmes!
We dove into so many incredible topics, including growing your consciousness through awareness, attaining balance in both good and bad times, and perceiving suffering as the fuel that takes you where you need to go!
We talked about how peace cannot exist in the ego and how Pete’s journey as a father shifted his mindset. He has learned to say, “Yes, thank you,” to whatever happens to him, and this perspective has changed his entire life! Pete shared so much of the wisdom he has learned over the years with us today, and I’m so excited for you to hear it!
Pete Holmes is a comedian, writer, cartoonist, father, and podcast host. You might know him from his podcast You Made It Weird or The Pete Holmes Show, which aired on TBS in 2013. Pete has also created and starred in the semi auto-biographical HBO show Crashing, which he executive-produced alongside Judd Apatow.
As an accomplished stand-up comedian with three-hour-long television specials and numerous late-night appearances, Pete continues to tour regularly for sold-out crowds across the world.
Also, he has a new book out titled Comedy Sex God where he shares many of his hilarious stories, philosophical insights, and enlightening life wisdom. Be sure to check it out if you enjoy this interview!
Pete’s unique combination of humor and profound wisdom made for an incredible conversation that you don’t want to miss. Let’s get into it!
Have you ever had a hard time resting? Oftentimes, we get so caught up in the pursuit of productivity that we find it difficult to stop thinking about work. Pete struggled with this same problem as a comedian for a long time, and the anxiety and stress of having a show used to ruin his entire day.
Now, he has learned to look at his notes an hour before each show and use the rest of the day for relaxation:
“The art of a comedian is taking your dysfunction — which I have my own dysfunction — and learning how to do jujitsu with it so you can go to dinner with your wife or you can be quiet on a beach or something. It took me 35 years to figure that out. … Your ability to have a somewhat normal life is balancing your producing and achieving with … not achieving. Because that’s the way the universe works. … There is inherent structure to everything.” – Pete Holmes
Pete used the example of a growing forest to illustrate this point. A forest doesn’t get bigger every year. Instead, there is balance, woven into the pattern of nature. Forest fires limit the forest’s progression towards the sky. There are seasons of drought and seasons of growth.
Pete noted that it should be the same way with human productivity, too! As humans, we need seasons of rest and regeneration to balance the times of work and achievement:
“The American corporation idea that you should be making more money every year is a lie. It’s against the law of the universe, and this is why we see corporations being [unfair] to their employees. … Their mythology is that their shareholders should make more money every year, and that’s just not the way the universe works. … These are structures of the ego that say, ‘We need to do more this year.’” – Pete Holmes
Pete emphasized the importance of balancing social time with solitude, quiet time with noise, and productivity with rest. This balance has allowed him to enjoy his career without the undercurrent of anxiety and also to spend more time with his wife.
What does this balance look like for you? Maybe it’s thirty minutes in the afternoon to take a walk with your partner and check in about their day. Or maybe it’s a short time at night that you take to reflect and journal. Whatever it looks like, it’s so important to balance rest with work every single day!
As well as learning balance, Pete also learned a key way to handle life when things don’t go as planned, which happens all the time! His secret? Learning how to see the times of suffering as just another aspect of life to live.
Life isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s far from it. But when things don’t go our way, we have a choice of how we decide to handle it. I asked Pete how he chooses to handle disappointment and suffering, and he shared the power of saying, “Yes, thank you,” when things are less than ideal.
He gave the recent cancellation of his three-season show as a recent example of how to do this:
“I made a show that is a love letter to the necessary change that is instigated by what we perceive as failures. … The character arc in my show is that his [the main character’s] wife leaves and his faith leaves — the two things that he never wanted to let go of — and then … he finds his flow because of something he would have never asked for. So how disappointing would it be if I was devastated that my show went away?” – Pete Holmes
Pete chose to see the joy and gratitude of his show’s existence and practice his philosophy that suffering is fuel that can take you where you need to go, whether externally or internally. Many times, people wait for hindsight to happen over time. While it’s true that time helps create this perspective, Pete believes that telling yourself, “yes, thank you,” in the moment can serve to create hindsight in the now.
I was actually able to apply this perspective recently! In the last five months, I’ve learned some big lessons. Everything that I hadn’t wanted to happen happened, and all my insecurities and fear of judgment came to the surface.
But by having awareness and using the tools that I have learned to understand myself and unpack childhood traumas, I was able to keep saying, “I’m so grateful for this. It’s going to make me so much more humble, wise, kind, and compassionate.” I envisioned myself at Christmastime next year, experiencing a beautiful moment with my loved ones and thinking, “None of this is going to matter.”
According to Pete, broadening your perspective about suffering is all about telling yourself another story about what is happening to you. Although this is helpful to understanding your pain from a deeper lens, it’s even better to just be present and aware, without telling yourself a narrative at all:
“The best thing I found to do is to just drop all the stories and just be right there. You will feel like an alien visiting. … Just be with what is. That to me is presence and love. What is love? Love is this big cosmic ‘yes,’ and the Buddha would say, ‘All of our suffering comes from saying no to what is instead of yes to what it is, even when it kind of sucks.’” – Pete Holmes
Guys, this is such a great tool to have when things get hard. Pete has been able to use this perspective as an approach suffering in his life. He also uses this perspective of awareness to find true peace, and he shared that wisdom with us today.
The human ego loves to tell stories. It likes to build a sense of self based on small details, preferences, and events that have happened. Pete has noticed that this can create issues for our identity and our peace, as we are easily swayed by the ups and downs of life.
True peace, he noted, is found in simple awareness of existence and detachment from the things that do not matter:
“Let’s zoom out a little bit. … What can we really work on? Your consciousness, your awareness, your stillness, like a candle inside that isn’t swayed by the, ‘I won,’ or ‘I lost.’ [Instead, think,] ‘What was there watching it the whole time?’ We want to sort of opt-out of this nonsense of the thrills and spills and chills and the ups and downs — equanimity and peace comes from identifying with the candle inside that isn’t blown and swayed by these things. That’s peace.” – Pete Holmes
According to Pete, peace cannot exist in the ego. It exists in identification with your awareness and detachment from the things that the human ego wants to attach itself to. So how can we shed this ego? This is where practice comes into play.
Learning how to detach yourself from your ego and observe your thoughts from a distance instead of letting them control you isn’t easy. But it can be done over time, and Pete noted that reading and listening to lectures is a good way to start teaching your brain skills of awareness. For him, the learning process began when he listened to an audio series called Experiments in Truth by Ram Dass, which changed his life.
But eventually, you will get to a place where you don’t have to read or listen to a lecture to be in a space of objective awareness:
“Krishna Das says, ‘You can’t get out of prison made of more thought with more thought.’ So, you’re trying to get into a place where you’re not thinking — you’re just being. These are all fun things to say, but what does it really look like? To me, it looks like noticing your breath. It’s a give and take. The law of the universe is really built in your physiology.” – Pete Holmes
For me, gratitude really helps escape the ego, too. If you can focus on what you are grateful for at a particular moment by saying, “This is happening in a bad way, and everything is against me right now, but at least I’m healthy,” you can find more peace at that moment. Gratitude is the antidote to anger and frustration.
By utilizing these techniques of awareness, Pete has been able to expand his perspective drastically and find peace even in life’s tougher moments.
I learned so much from this profound and humorous conversation with Pete! He is so hilarious and also incredibly wise, and I am so glad he shared that wisdom with us today. I want to acknowledge Pete for his vulnerability and the constant work he does to improve himself and achieve greatness.
I asked him his definition of greatness, and his answer was powerful:
“Greatness is your ability to flow with and find balance within all that is. That’s greatness.” – Pete Holmes
That’s some profound stuff right there! If you enjoyed this interview, you’re definitely going to want to go check out Pete’s new book, Comedy Sex God. You can also find more resources on his website! If you found value in this episode, be sure to share it with your friends and tag Pete, @peteholmes, and me, @lewishowes, to spread the message of greatness.
I hope this episode helps you learn to have hindsight in the present. It’s time to go out there and do something great!
Lewis: This is episode number 796 with the hilarious and wise Pete Holmes. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes, a former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today now let the class begin.
Benjamin Franklin said “Without continual growth and progress such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
Welcome to today’s episode this one goes in some interesting direction that I think you’re gonna enjoy and it gets there pretty quick. For those that don’t know Pete Holmes is a comedian, writer, cartoonist, and podcast host. You might know him from his podcast ‘you made it weird’ or ‘The Pete Holmes show.’ Pete has also created and starred in the semi auto biographical HBO show crashing which he executive produced alongside Judd Apatow. An accomplish stand-up with 3 hour long television specials and a numerous late night appearances, he continues to tour regularly to sold out crowd and his latest book ‘comedy sex god’ it’s available and it’s out for pre-order right now.
In this interview we talked about how suffering is the fuel or energy that takes you where you need to go. How your consciousness can only grow through awareness. How peace cannot exist in the ego and Pete’s journey as a father and how it shifted his mindset. Also we talked about the comedy industry and what he’s learned from some of the most famous comedians in the world.
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Without further ado let me introduce to you to the funny and the wise Pete Holmes.
Welcome everyone to the school of greatness podcast we’ve got Pete Holmes in the house. My man glad you’re here, we just had a 20, 30 minute pre-interview already.
Pete: On my podcast we just start I don’t mean to impose my style onto you, but and also you know this when you interview other hosts they’re like shafts or something.
Lewis: I actually like that model. Neil [?] with me years ago, he was like “We’re just rolling.” I like to prepare people to make sure they are grounded well.
Pete: I’m actually surprised my style hasn’t bit me in the butt more because a lot of people probably, what you’re doing is very loving, what I’m doing is like sort of the dad ride bike. I’m surprised it hasn’t rubbed people the wrong way.
Lewis: Maybe since you’re a comedian they expect to like you’re gonna go to those places. You’re container is more.
Pete: I picked a good container. So, we talked about being friends with Rob Bell. He and I in our work together he’s fascinated just by the social contract of comedian you’re allowed to do all these things.
Lewis: Say whatever you want.
Pete: He’s not a passer but he’s a spiritual teacher. I always think about rappers and how they sort of they have to be cool all the time not all rappers but a lot of people in hip-hop. Jay-Z has to be pretty cool and I always joked that like he couldn’t do an interview and he’d be like ‘I just feel silly today.’ But I can if I am feeling cool I can be cool if I am feeling silly I can be silly. So, comedian if any young people are watching do that even if you don’t always do it just do it enough to get like ‘oh they were a comedian.’
Lewis: Every time I watch Jack Black do an interview I’m like ‘this guy is fearless’ he just say what he wants and just like laze around and lets his belly hang out and doesn’t care what he looks like.
Pete: He looks like comedy.
Lewis: He is comedy.
Pete: It’s a body confidence, it’s a vocal confidence but it’s also vulnerable. See that’s what I thought was interesting about you is that you have vulnerability and you share that and that’s so essential.
Lewis: He is vulnerable but he is confident with it.
Pete: So the set-up is his body and the punch line is his vulnerability or the set-up is his vulnerability because he kinds of look like somebody who might be looking through records at a record store, and then when his excellent or amazing or outrageous you’re like ‘Yes.’ There wouldn’t be as much fun in the contrast between how he looks and how he is.
Lewis: Who’s the comedian if you could be for 1 day you’d want to be that person that’s currently alive?
Pete: I don’t know I don’t spend a lot of time envying.
Lewis: Who do you appreciate or admire?
Pete: It’s more like. So Bill [?] is one of my favorite absolutely and when I’m with Bill the guy just speaks in bits, like you can’t talk to bill and not have him flood you with unbelievable material. John Mulaney the same way absolutely one of my favorites. I don’t know if I want to be either of those guys because what it is being the art of a comedian is taking your dysfunction which I have and learning how to like jujitsu in it. So you can go to dinner with your wife or you can be quiet on a beach or something and it took me 35 years to figure that out, because when you’re starting like if you have show it would ruin your day. You’re writing everything down and your panic and freaking out all the time and it took me 35 years to get to the point where I can be like ‘No, like an hour before the show I’ll look at my notes.’ So, if I was drop into Bill’s body and I had his brain I would enjoy his perspective but I don’t know I would know how to like harness it. He knows how to put the bear in a headlock and go like ‘Okay, I’m gonna have brunch with my wife’
Lewis: How many of the most successful comedians, how many of these high level comedians that are like famous comedians that people know of in the world, how many of them are actually have their life together?
Pete: So clearly you’re into productivity. I see Kevin and if Kevin Hart did my podcast I would want to discuss what is driving him to do so much, because if I’m on an airplane and I pass 3 movies you’re in and there’s a Netflix special coming out I think what’s wrong? So, for all I know Kevin has the most balance in the world even schedules and spaciousness in his routine or whatever plus I don’t understand what his psychology. That being said, at this point I’m 40 I measure success by a different metric entirely. You know Ryan Holiday?
Lewis: Of course.
Pete: So it’s like how do you want your day to look like? I don’t want my day to look like ‘I got to go’ I don’t want my day to look like that. I love that this day I’m doing this interview with you and my ability to just be here with you is built into the idea that I tell my team I don’t want to do 5 things in a day, and just because I could sell special. Now, again I really do want to remove Kevin from this I am speaking for myself. Your ability to have somewhat a normal life is balance against like your [?] and achieving and I probably would quote Richard [?] a lot, especially we end up talking about my book. Richard talks about knowing needs to be balance with unknowing and talking needs to be balance with not talking and achieving needs to be balance with not achieving.
Lewis: Why is this?
Pete: Because that’s the way the universe works. The American corporation is a lie that you should be making more money every year against the law of the universe and this is why we see corporations being shitty to their employees. We know who these corporations are. Their mythology is that their shareholders should make more money every year that is not the way the universe works. There is an inherent structure to everything there is and a lot of our ideas go fucking flat in the face or those ideas and that is not balance and that is not harmony and that is not the kingdom of heaven. These are structures of the ego that say “We need to do more this year.” Have a year more like the sizzle not the wave that sizzle that we all love on the beach. You need to find harmony, it’s not just going like I would have a month off in between shooting crashing, I didn’t run out to do a movie why would I do that? And again I don’t want to sound holier I like being with my family, I like being alone. You can’t be a healthy person that gets up on stage in front of a thousand people regularly and entertains them and has them hanging on your words and not balance that with time where you’re not demanding that everyone listen to you and you’re not listening to other people.
Lewis: What do you mean just in?
Pete: They didn’t know in they’re just out.
Lewis: What does IN mean?
Pete: In would be quiet, would be reading where people buy books and don’t read them. But it’s like there needs to be your social time and solitude and there needs to be like, I already said it you get it. So that to me but I do see that with some comedians but it’s not common.
Lewis: You just had this show HBO show 3 seasons and they just recently got discontinued. How does that make you feel as a comedian that’s like feel like you need to be on TV? 3 seasons I a lot right now most shows don’t even go on air. So, 3 seasons is huge it’s unbelievable, but how does that make you feel to be that?
Pete: First of all it’s loving of you to ask me that. I was waiting for my dad to ask me that and instead he would just like project onto me what he hoped that I would felt, so I appreciate you for asking. I noticed that a lot of men are too uncomfortable with things ending or failing or being cancelled. When my wife left me they’re just like ‘but you’re doing okay right?’ like they don’t want to go like how are you? So, I appreciate you to ask how I am, but I said I made a show that is a love letter to the necessary change that is instigated by what we perceived as failures, right? Things ending the characters in my show the wife leaves and the two things that he never wanted to let go of and then everything that he’s supposed to be doing he find his flow because of something he would have never ask for.
So, I’m like how disappointing would it be if I was devastated that my show went away? I made a show that is a love letter to change and then my life changes and I go ‘No.’ it was joy and gratitude and not just because I was rationalizing ‘yeah, 3 seasons is amazing’ that’s not it it’s because this is how the game is played and the up moments are great. I’m looking at Tony Robbins and you and it’s probably jet, how many lessons did he learn in that jet? You talk to Tony Robbins he’s going to tell you about thanksgiving when his dad wasn’t there. And I am not saying crashing thanksgiving when my dad isn’t there I’m just saying you need to learn or I’ve needed to learn something happens that you wouldn’t have asked for and it’s this very interesting technique of saying ‘yes, thank you to them.’
The other example that I give is I wrote this book right, and then they sent out the galleys for the reviews. So they sent out the galleys for reviews and probably when you wanted one they sent you this galley. I’m flipping through the galley and it was the wrong draft.
Lewis: The worst man.
Pete: I knew as an author you would appreciate this. I worked on a book for 3 years and then I’m flipping through it and there’s stuff that I did not want in there, like things that I took out. I was trying to employ what I was talking about in the book and I was like ‘you’re full of shit right now.’ You talk about this suffering being this fuel or this engine that can take you where you need to go and maybe not externally but internally takes you where you need to go.
Lewis: Of the cancellation of the book?
Pete: Yeah, the wrong draft of the book going out, and your brain doesn’t know what to do with that and this isn’t just mind tricks it’s an abundance model and a gratitude model. The trick is most of us can have a divorced or a breakup or losing a show or losing a job, maybe let’s say it’s 5 years people say sometimes it’s twice the length of the relationship you can look back and like not have the suffering you can understand. Okay, so we can look back and go it was great and a good thing. The trick for me is, so here’s a perspective and here’s what happening to you.
So this is 5 years to me spiritually or consciousness or whatever is trying to get those things next to each other. So while they’re happening you go like ‘I may not rationally understand it but I’m going to fuck myself and say thank you.’ Look how quickly you can get fucked up you think you’re a big fancy comedian, you can’t hear in this era. I want to talk to people about what they didn’t want and how they rolled with that.
Lewis: It’s so fascinating you say this because I’ve had some big lessons in my life the last 5 months that and for the first time I was able to have the awareness and kind of used the tools I’ve learned over the last 6 years of really diving into understating myself and overcoming my childhood traumas and all the work I’ve done with therapy and everything. I was like ‘this is one of those moments that I don’t want to happen in my life.’ I went through this pretty bad breakup and everything I didn’t want to happen happened and then some. So, all my insecurities and fear of judgment of what people thought about me everything was coming up for me, and there was about a week of like stress but at the same time I just kept saying ‘this is happening for a reason’ and then I just said “I am so grateful for this like this is going to make me so much more humble.”
Pete: That’s right.
Lewis: I just said I’m gonna have hindsight now.
Pete: You’re already doing it
Lewis: But it’s the end of this year and another year later I’m gonna reflect back on this and I felt my body in the moment of a year out and I was experiencing this beautiful experience with my family and friends and love ones and I was happy and peaceful and I was like ‘none of this is gonna matter.’
Pete: Also it’s a story that you’re telling and the thought itself, by the way I’d like to say people who are suffering that are watching this, this is not what I would say to someone who’s suffering “You can be with someone who is suffering and you can listen to them.” One of the great Buddhist ideas is that your thoughts don’t have power on their own, it’s the belief that you and we can get into who that you is but the you are giving them power. If you want to sink your teeth and get angry I mean that’s one of the joys of life, even pain is one of the joys of life.
So there’s a temptation to pick up all of it not just the good but we actually enjoy the passion and the pain and of the bad. We like it in a quiet place. So it’s hard to do this and it’s not very sexy and exciting to do this, this is why it’s hard or difficult. But if your flight is delayed and this just happened to me it happens all the time.
Lewis: The worst.
Pete: My chair wouldn’t not stay up and like it wasn’t just, of course reclining is fine but every time I set up I came up. Now this is admittedly a small example.
Lewis: First world problem.
Pete: But just like you hear it and you start writing it the story I paid full price for this ticket. Delta, delta is nothing just a label for a bunch of machines and people and an area in an airport that we call delta and it’s a stock you can trade in. Well, right now delta is just me on this plane. It’s the suffering you attach to the story.
So you start telling a story to yourself and you believe yourself and by the way that story is rational.
Lewis: You did pay full price you should.
Pete: But what does that mean right now? All of that is just a tale. None of that is happening right now, what’s happening now? I’m in a miracle but this is rationalization.
Lewis: A miracle hundred years ago.
Pete: This is rationalization I am actually looking for something better than rationalization but you can rationalize, you can say like ‘I’m in a miracle I am going home to my baby.’
Lewis: Delivering food.
Pete: My life is better than every Pharaoh that’s rationalization. What’s actually even one up level of that that’s like an attitude adjustment that’s you telling yourself of another story and saying believe this story, the best thing I found to do is to just drop all the stories and just be right there, and you will feel like an alien visiting. You’re not thinking about an alien visiting you’re not thinking about how your chair is still pretty good, you’re just going on like ‘well what is?’ I could complain and maybe that would feel good.
Pete: Is it worth it? Just be with what is. That to me is presence and love. What is love? Love is this big cosmic yes and the Buddha would say “All of our suffering comes from saying no to what is instead of yes to what it is.”
Lewis: Why were you so attached to everything?
Pete: It’s so fun. It’s Indiana Jones we’re emotionally running and rolling and we’re whipping. We build up this identities and structures and the systems and titles and jobs because it’s fun and addicting, it’s not fun there aren’t a lot of movies about realized beings that just go through life. If it doesn’t matter that my team lost or that my job promoted Henry and not me or that my girlfriend and I broke up, if none of that really matters because the moment is actually enough which is fucking crazy because it is, but if we can put that away then what are we doing? And then you have to ask a lot deeper, interesting philosophical and metaphysical questions about what’s going here? It’s like we say everything happens for a reason that to me can fall in the category of rationalization. We go like ‘My girlfriend broke up with me but if she hadn’t I wouldn’t have met this new girlfriend.’ That to me is like introductory level kind of jujitsu. It’s good its way better than moping.
Lewis: Big to everything yeah.
Pete: You go like this happens for a reason. I always grew up thinking things happen for a reason but the truth is one of these things that’ll happen is going to kill you. If you’re gonna die and then that whole model goes out the window, you can’t just go and like ‘well if she hadn’t left me I wouldn’t have been hit by a car.’ So, the ego wants to go it still paid out.
One of the big points of my book is to try identify who we really are which I would say is just awareness. That awareness had a shell growing around it and for you and I that awareness went like ‘I am an American I am a tall male.’ You’re building this thing that isn’t really who you are, if you can remember what it was like being a baby you just were. So, I would say if that awareness is who you really are I think the growth is for your consciousness, it’s for your awareness. We say this bad thing happened but look here’s a bad ego story for me. My wife left me but I turned it into a TV show. Let’s zoom out a little bit some ape ate that on a blue rock floating in infinity and its expanding infinity. So what can we really work on your consciousness, your awareness like a candle inside that isn’t swayed by like ‘I won or I lost.’ What was there watching it the whole time? We want to sort of opt out of this fucking non-sense of the thrills and the spills and the chills and the ups and the downs, but equanimity and peace comes from identifying with the candle inside that isn’t blow and isn’t swayed by these things. I used to think that peace was like we’re in this nice apartment and nice view and we can go like. In 10 years what will we be woke to that we’re not woke to now and maybe we said was wrong.
Pete: None of this matters and not in a bad way in a good way. Peace cannot exist in the ego it can only exist in your awareness. So identification with your awareness is where peace is. You can experience peace for a brief moment but the way the ego works it’s made of stuff that does not allow for peace or equanimity.
Lewis: So how do we shed ego?
Pete: Well that’s where practice comes from. It’s not as complicated as this sounds but for me it’s reading about it reading other people’s words about, lectures these are good ways to start feeding the brain. For me it was an audio series called ‘experiment in truth’ by [?] it’s on iTunes change my life that was the beginning. Then you start to follow that and maybe some luck. If you are raised Christian then that’s valuable to you those symbols and those metaphors. And then what happens is really beautiful you’re like flowing tea to a cup and it starts overflowing and eventually you can just throw the cup away and realize it.
If you’re on that plane and your chair isn’t working if you can absorbed your thoughts that is a very powerful technique, really all the great spiritual people to me are saying something pretty basic and then what we do is we pad at it to make it feel a book or we pad it to make it feel an hour.
Lewis: Not a whole book yet.
Pete: The way that it works is there’s all these ego resistance so we want it to be a 3 hour lecture, we need it to be because for those 3 hours maybe we are in that space. But the lecture could be simple and then my book it’s simple, there’s so many metaphors but it’s like you’re the sky and any thought or feeling is a cloud and just watch it go by. Nothing goes away by resisting.
Lewis: This will be over in a few hours.
Pete: You can’t out of prison made of more thought right. So, you’re trying to get into a place where you’re not thinking you’re just being.
Lewis: I think gratitude really helps too. Focusing on what you are grateful at that moment ‘this is happening in a bad way and everything is against me right now.’
Pete: Well that’s a Tony Robbins thing that actually really helped me is doing gratitude and having grateful. I think then the next level is to go ‘well, who’s having the thought of having gratitude?’ and if you can identify. So, you’re going I wish my ear didn’t hurt at least you have ear.
Lewis: What is?
Pete: What is the sky? Who’s hearing you correcting yourself? Who is he talking to? That’s your candle, that’s your spirit and your awareness, and that’s where peace is. We can fence with our emotions and go like ‘at least there’s an in-flight meal’ but real equanimity comes from like a big yes to whatever it is. It’s not easy all the time.
Lewis: Not easy.
Pete: And not sexy. All of my comedies is about times where I couldn’t do that.
Lewis: Well, you couldn’t have said yes thank you.
Pete: It’s funny.
Lewis: Since you are so woke in this information and this is something you talk about. How often do you see yourself getting angry and allowing the anger to consume the thoughts for more than a few minutes?
Pete: That’s a Tony Robbins thing too where he was like ‘life is too short.’ I bet Tony could just school me on this and I have a deep respect for him and it’s not that I think he’s wrong, I think he found the perfect thing for him. That model has a lot of resistance to me because it’s a story and I say this with respect and you can probably work for him, he can do a lot of things that I can’t do.
Lewis: You might still need to eat ice cream and have pizza.
Pete: If my anger or my sadness is persisting I like to be gentle with myself, the story of I don’t get angry for more than 90 seconds is resistance and that to me can cause suffering. What happens at second 91?
Lewis: You’re not feeling emotions anymore.
Pete: Or you are and now I’m mad because the story was I told myself I’d only have 90 seconds and now its 3 minutes and I am still angry about it. That to me its attraction and aversion of the causes of suffering. So my attraction is to drop and my aversion is to have. Those 2 things settling into what is and maybe that’s how he gets rid of his anger by the way and maybe he just kind of give it a western model and that’s a brilliant thing to do to make it a little bit sellable or digestible to a achieving western audience. So, that’s full respect to Tony that might be what he’s doing, but for me what I’m doing is the game of saying ‘okay, this 90 second doesn’t appeal to me because it’s just another wagging finger in my head.’ Saying no to my anger for me leads to more anger, don’t do that.
Lewis: What you resist persist is what people say all the time.
Pete: That’s right. As soon as I gave myself a green light to jerk off or look at porn or all these bad things I do it so much less.
Lewis: You’re not resisting it.
Pete: The addiction was all of it. That was a big breakthrough for me as a Christian was like the addiction, I say in comedy sex god a speedball ‘heroin and cocaine.’ So the coke was looking at porn the heroin was the guilt.
Pete: The shame. That’s what I’m saying like somewhere deep down I was addicted to both. I like to say Oscar Wilde saying the only way to get rid of temptation is guilt to it, it sounds like somebody in Vegas would say that.
Lewis: It’s almost like ‘I’m not married but if your wife was to give you a hall pass.’
Pete: Funny thing you say that because my wife and I were not open marriage, but we’re psychologically open. This is all hypothetical of course it would hurt my feelings my wife cheated on my, but in a very different way from when it actually happened to me. My wife went to Spain and there’s this class of amazing guitars and then something happened. It sort of breaks my heart that she could tell her best friend that and her best friend even though she was rooting for our marriage and stuff would be like ‘oh my God that’s incredible.’ But she can’t tell me fuck that.
Lewis: You’re not saying right or wrong or good and bad for someone else.
Pete: I want good for her I’m on her side. So, we’re psychologically open meaning I love you unconditionally.
There’s a game we play where it’s like I love you as unconditionally up to murdering me.
Lewis: I want to be alive.
Pete: Unfortunately I have instincts that would stop you from killing me like the body. But that’s a good example like can we be outside of, can our marriage be psychologically free? Because if you go around going like ‘don’t cheat.’
Lewis: Don’t think that thought, don’t do that.
Pete: Willpower and willpower sucks. Freedoms is beautiful.
Lewis: Freedom brings you peace.
Pete: Your awareness is free. So when I go like I’m a straight married white guy then there’s this resistance to that.
Lewis: There might be consequences.
Pete: You have to use your brain and I go ‘my marriage is way more valuable to me than and even my belief is myself as being a good husband is more valuable to me.’ At the same time you’re like the cops already broken and somebody is down here.
Lewis: You’re not a penguin.
Pete: You don’t start being monogamist when you have a ceremony in a gazebo you’re not monogamist, or some people are I mean I know some people. And then they get divorce and then the rules change.
Lewis: What’s been the biggest challenge in your life that you overcome that looking back you say to yourself ‘I’m actually grateful that happened.’
Pete: Well the reason it’s not the divorce because it’s embarrassing.
Lewis: So what happened to the divorce for people that don’t know? What’s the story?
Pete: I think I want to say the reason of the divorce is because that was the time of my life that I had detachments.
Lewis: How old where you when this happened?
Pete: I got married when I was 22 and didn’t have an idea. If someone ask me for advice I’d be like ‘just be together why add the law to it.’ I know why because you probably, you know a lot of people that do that are trying to recreate their parents’ marriage in a good way. My parents didn’t really get along they argued a lot, so there’s like a psychological need get married and fix it through. It’s like you watch the play called ‘my parents’ marriage’ and there’s this all kind of tension and you’re like I’m gonna write a new play. And that play will be so well reviewed that we’ll forget about that.
So, I had all these attachments I wanted to be a good boy and I was a Christian like I really meant it sort of Christian.
Lewis: What does that mean to be a Christian?
Pete: The most important although it wasn’t. I wanted to.
Lewis: To go the world.
Pete: I was hungry. So that’s causing tension. I remember at my wedding they played the song ‘be that my vision’ and that’s a line that use to make me laugh and it was ‘richest I want not nor man’s empty praise.’ I used to cry at that line because I wanted richest and I wanted man’s empty praise more than richest.
Pete: It just gets me off it’s my psychology. I like to think I found a way to work with it, you know Jesus said “You don’t pull up the weeds while the weed is still growing you let them grow along with the weed.” So, I don’t look back and wish I could have yank out my [?].
Pete: Yank those weeds up
Lewis: Yeah of course.
Pete: So, anyway got married got to move to Chicago because I wanted to do second city because I love Chris [?]. I want SNL and dude I got there and everyone got the same idea it was every tall white guy who is the start of their college team move to Chicago as soon as they graduated. It was a cattle call and crazy. Just a bunch of me so it was very hard to get in and then I start doing stand-up, I was doing a little bit but I went from being really intro [?] and some stand-up to really being into stand-up. That was like a very practical utilitarian like
Pete: Because I realized like Tony, but he would like I realized I was only good as the worst person on my team. It’s hard to get 7 people to make it in Hollywood so you’re just sort of like ‘well I just do stand-ups I can do it every night.’
Pete: Alone and I’ll be as good as I am and I like that because I can control that. When I was 28 we just moved to New York maybe a year or 2 in and then my wife had an affair with someone she worked with. So, I was in the situation the full version of this story is in the book because the book isn’t just about me going like me being like ‘be a candle.’
Lewis: It’s the drama.
Pete: It’s the drama and the story so I really kind of dry out even in ways that I haven’t shared on my own podcast but it is like really tell the full story. But that was when I was like God, I sort of look God as the mafia like I paid him protection money. And then so I was a very good boy and then so that’s the mafia but someone still threw a brick through my bakery window. So, it wasn’t working my model of God wasn’t working because it had no allowance for suffering. You can see why now one of my passion is to figure out why we live in this world and the reality of good and bad of pain and pleasure. You know the model of existence, because it can’t just be a God if you’re believing correctly and do what he says everything will pay out for you, that’s a very western achiever model and also very narcissistic. Then your wife leaves you.
Lewis: It’s not funny.
Pete: No, it’s funny it’s that a great joke and then you go ‘what’s wrong with this situation?’ At first I was an atheist briefly.
Lewis: So after you were Christian after all this happened you’re like screw God?
Pete: Pretty standard right? I mean you either go really hard you double down on God. I went the other obvious way, nobody stays the same I went the other obvious way.
Lewis: Not studying?
Pete: No not yet. I wish I was that awesome I wish people was that awesome. I really enjoyed a period and I’m grateful that I had a period in my life that was, if it wasn’t that activate where I was like really thinking and contemplating that there’s no God, it was just like a casual enjoyment of putting the issue aside which I recommend.
Lewis: Where you like there is no God?
Pete: I was just like. I thought I knew I guess I don’t know and when all your friends are comedian nobody believes in God so you just sort of like they seem fine.
Lewis: They look good on stage but behind the scenes.
Pete: But behind the scenes I was one of them. I just went hard on the body and had a lot of Chinese food and a lot of guilt free porn and whatever it might have been. Then this is a big turning point in the book I took psychedelic, have you even taken psychedelic?
Lewis: I’ve not I’ve been in ceremonies and watch. So, I was in a circle friend of mine.
Pete: I want to know who on this wall. But I want to know which one of these guest told you to smoke DMT.
Lewis: I didn’t even know if it was DMT
Pete: If it doesn’t last very long and very strong. It wasn’t DMT.
Lewis: It was a bunch of like UFC guys in a circle. I wasn’t planning on doing it anyways when I went there I was just like ‘I’ll come and watch and like see what’s going down’ but one of the first guys that smoke whatever it was, I was like wasn’t planning on coming here to do this and I wasn’t doing it now.
Pete: I wonder what it was.
Lewis: I’ll ask.
Pete: I did my [?] and I didn’t even take a big of a dose I split a dose with my girlfriend at the time. So it was pretty mild.
Lewis: What happened?
Pete: Euphoria and wonder and body high and fascination. You’d just be like it sound so trivial to say this if you’re an idiot or something but you’re not an idiot you’re actually a Buddha and you need to be so fascinated that this is molecules and this that would be the funniest thing to you but not in like. I’ve said this before when you smoke pot the next day what was funny isn’t funny anymore. When you take mushroom what was amazing the next day is amazing, you’ve just sort of forgotten because your brain builds up reality and one of the many things that your brain does I think it’s your frontal lobe is it prioritizes reality. Right now it’s more important to me to be remembering my posture.
Pete: And don’t spill the water. And when you take mushrooms whatever the door guy is that tells you what’s important and what isn’t important I say this in the book, it’s like you slip in a 50 and tell them to take the day off. So everything becomes equally important the air and the wood and your feet and your hands and everything becomes equally important. So, what I experience at the time was joy and fascination and fascination is really much harder to come by than joy.
Lewis: Fascinated by every little thing.
Pete: There’s a line in a nightclub called enlightenment and someone took you and let you around the line and you go in the club and you can only go in for a couple of hours, but it’s so fucking amazing you can go in for a couple of hours. So, now if you ask me what happen I was fully in the moment, why wouldn’t you be if everything is fascinating? So all of the planning and all of the regretting and all of the anxiety completely goes away and moves aside for basically what feels like a Jacuzzi. So this later I realized is what I believe Jesus is talking about when he talks about ‘The Kingdom of Heaven.’ He says the kingdom of heaven will not come by expectation, the kingdom of heaven is here and do not see it.
Pete: Children they don’t have beliefs or complicated trees of philosophy. They’re here and that is a beautiful [?] to share with my baby. So, he’s saying be open and realize you’re already here, men do not see it because we’re too busy back then and too busy I don’t know.
Lewis: What was the big lesson for you through that pain and through the drugs and through the dating other women and not finding your being married?
Pete: I guess that it’s all this, it’s all one thing it doesn’t really make sense when you talk about it but it is one thing and it’s stinging itself. So the illusion of separateness, my friend Michael [?] wrote a book called ‘this’ and he talks about like we are part of the earth as much as the tree is and he has this great line like “we’re the wireless upgrades, we don’t have to be rooted to the earth. But we are a by-product or product of the system and the system is part of the solar system.” Like I said the air is made up of the same thing you and I are made off. So, it’s helpful the air is gelatinous you know what I mean? But the ego builds up a story that goes ‘I’m over here and you’re over there.’ My baby doesn’t know that my baby is this, and then we play out this little stories and this games because when you think you’re separate and you think you’re the center of everything it makes sense that you would do that. So the big thing that my book is about and the big lessons that drugs and everything that it thought me was it’s all in it, it’s all in the game including your suffering. I’m not saying that might have happened but you got the job because that happened that’s ego shit. It’s all one thing working itself out pretending to be lots of things to know and understand and play with itself basically. And if you took one of these drugs you wouldn’t have to believe me you would believe me.
Lewis: You would feel it.
Pete: Completely knowing. You’re nowhere but there you can’t think about anything and that is similar to a feeling, like the guy that free climb that mountain I would argue the reason he’s doing that is he’s completely present.
Lewis: The best feeling ever.
Pete: The feeling of euphoria.
Lewis: That’s why I love sports because you can’t be on your phone and shoot basketball at the same time.
Pete: People with ADT tend to you know migrate towards these activities but like it was never explained to me that spirituality was actually trying to maintain a state of that without some sort of threat to our lizard brains that forces us there. We can just can be there and that is what I believe is the kingdom of heaven.
Lewis: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Pete: I mean we sort of, because my baby doesn’t think in words yet but she is. The chapter about her in the book is called ‘luminous emptiness.’ So, she’s just luminous and empty that doesn’t mean as she’s getting older she’s almost 7 months, we see her reach for things now and she’s more interested in, she likes solid food and so she’s building a false self until she’s, well she can do that her whole life if she wants that’s her journey. But I’m watching her build it from the ground up like she likes spinach more than she likes [?], so I see her building a preference and you can see that laser printer make a groove on her brain. So, it’s pretty wild but what she’s taught me was that there are people sometimes cheesy but they’re like ‘babies it’s like they make me feel [?]’ I would argue that it does but it’s not simple and sometimes there’s pro-life billboards like ‘there is proof of God.’ That’s sort of a guiltification of a beautiful idea which is that a baby who has no sellable identity that’s why I never, my brother gave well-meaning but it’s like I’ll never put her in this. I’m just like what’s beautiful about her is that she’s nothing she’s just, it’s the video game screen make a player she’s like a rotating avatar what are we gonna do? And that is valuable in itself.
Lewis: That’s powerful.
Pete: Is that great?
Lewis: Really powerful.
Pete: I don’t go like I can’t wait until she taught why, I love that she doesn’t know her name. She doesn’t say her name, why would she? What does that mean? There’s a word that’s you?
Lewis: This is powerful man.
Pete: That’s a psychedelic thought like again you don’t have to, you know it already like those moments when you’re in the shower and like there’s a word that when they say it they mean this, they mean all of this but it feels more exciting when you’re tripping.
Lewis: This is the question I asked everyone at the end. This is called the 3 truths. Imagine it is your last day on this earth a hundred, 200 or 500 years from now whenever you want it to be you get to choose the day and you’ve achieved everything you want if you want to achieve or not. Whatever you choose you’ve done and you’ve live the life you want but you got to call quits and you got to take everything you created with you. So no one has access to your information anymore.
Pete: I’m leaving and everything I made is leaving.
Lewis: But you get to rip a piece of paper and write down 3 things you know to be true and leave that as kind of like your principles or lessons that you would share and leave with the world and this is all that we’ll remember you by. What would you say are your 3 truths?
Pete: What if it could be like my best jokes?
Lewis: You can leave whatever behind that you think that would be a good lesson or a good story.
Pete: The first one I would write is who is watching you read this right now? Who’s observing you read this right now? I think that’s the most important question. I used to think that like when people said the most important question you can ask in life is, who am I? I’m sure you’ve heard that.
Lewis: Why am I here? Who am I? Yeah.
Pete: And we sort of turned that into like an excavation of your preferences. What a prostitution of that beautiful idea who are you really is the better question, and who’s observing the thought I like chocolate ice cream. So, I think that’s encapsulated in the first one. This is silly but I think I would say everything belongs, I like that one and that obviously includes yourself. There’s so much energy I took LSE recently and my big epiphany was it’s nice to be nice so sometimes they’re not that deep. So it’s nice to be nice is a good one, I don’t know if that’s gonna go in there but like everything belongs is a good way to get over the idea we’re just ‘if only I were this or that but even your suffering belongs like that’s my, when I’m like it’s all one thing in itself.
We live in a world where as soon as you move forward backwards exist. So as soon as there’s like pleasure or kindness like ugliness and selfishness and pain just exist that’s just what’s happening, because one doesn’t exist without the other. And our resistance causes a lot more suffering than actually things on their own wishing that it wasn’t that way. So, it’s saying belongs is a nice way of saying.
Lewis: The homeless down the street.
Pete: That’s right that’s what he’s saying, he’s actually speaking about the crisis but I’m only here for Lewis. But he’s saying like this is this so everything belongs is a good thing.
Lewis: Everything belongs.
Pete: And the 3rd one would be it’s a Richard Rohr and I think it matters. 1 is “Love is learning yes to what is.” So we could just say yes to what is. It’s a little bit more #greatness this quote is on my wall is he says “Humbly and proudly return what you’ve been given.”
Lewis: That’s good
Pete: He says that the meaning of life is the humbly and proudly, so right there is non-dual thinking humbly and proudly. That’s in there for a reason to make you go ‘what?’ It’s not a rational thought it’s a heart thought. You can humbly and proudly return what you’ve been given. So that’s kind of the game I was given and a sense of humor or whatever.
Lewis: Like living a life of service.
Pete: And do it proudly and also with humility. So that’s 4.
Lewis: Those are powerful. You got this new book coming out?
Pete: And the 5th one is going to be called ‘diarrhea.’
Lewis: Well you got this new book coming out which sounds like you are sharing all these stories and more called ‘comedy sex god.’ And it’ll be out when we post this interview or if it’s out before you can pre-order it on Amazon.
Pete: Please do. When you’ve worked so hard on something and I’ve worked on this for 3 years you want those presale numbers and 1st week numbers to be big, not so that I can jerk off in the shower thinking but because more people will find the book. I want people to find the book I work so hard on it harder than I work on anything. It was more satisfying and more difficult than anything I’ve done. And a lot of what we’ve been saying I’ll happily give it away for free. But everything we’ve been talking about is in the book and if you like this conversation that’s my little commercial.
Lewis: I love it man. What’s your website?
Lewis: Get on there.
Pete: I’m pretty sure there’s a link of Amazon on my website.
Lewis: Whatever you do don’t put the volume up.
Pete: Whatever you do know on some level you are on a spiritual work of the Lithuanian ogre on the right and he’s trying to love you as himself.
Lewis: I want to acknowledge you Pete for I feel like it’s hard for comedians to really be vulnerable and continue to like do the work on themselves, maybe that’s just my perceptions to comedians which is probably bad for ne to judge as a group, but I feel like you are. You’re constantly doing the work and you’re probably doing things that aren’t popular. You know you probably saying things that aren’t what every audience wants to hear and you’re asking people to tap into questions for themselves and that doesn’t get the best jokes all the time and you know you’re doing the unconventional thing which is making people think and making people love and open up. So, I want to acknowledge you for the work that you’re doing and allowing yourself to go there even when it may not seem the sexiest, coolest thing to do. So, yeah I really acknowledge this conversation too for everything you shared and your vulnerability and everything. Make sure to follow him on Instagram.
Pete: And my podcast you made it weird.
Lewis: Check it out.
Pete: You should be on.
Lewis: I would love to come on. This is my final question what’s your definition of greatness?
Pete: Greatness is your ability to flow with and find balance within all that is. That’s greatness
Lewis: Pete Holmes appreciate it.
Pete: Thanks I love this.
Lewis: There you have it my friends I hope you enjoyed this episode with the funny Pete Holmes who we went over the place and some different context today. It wasn’t all about comedy which is what he is known for but this was a powerful conversation. I love having this type of conversations with individuals that normally you wouldn’t think having these conversations with. So, if you enjoyed this make sure to share with your friends lewishowes.com/796 with the hilarious Pete Holmes. Make sure to tag us both @lewishowes @peteholmes over on Instagram and be a hero for someone in your life, spread the message of greatness. Make sure to share this with a friend.
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And as Benjamin Franklin said, “Without continual growth and progress such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” What are you doing on a daily basis to listen to your heart, listen to your intuition, to listen to what the fears that you have in your and make sure you are leaning into those fears and not hiding from them. How are you growing? How are you developing? How are you becoming more of who you are supposed to be in this world? Not becoming less of it.
I love you all so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.