The New York Times

The Podcast Bros Want to Optimize Your Life

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

DON’T DISMISS THEM AS HUCKSTERS PROMOTING SELF-HELP BOOKS AND DUBIOUS MUSHROOM COFFEE.

Do you want to optimize your life? Start your morning with a kale-garlic-ginger smoothie, or better yet, meditate and fast until noon. Next, hit the gym for your mixed martial arts workout and take a cold shower to activate your immune system. Then plan this summer’s vision quest: Maybe you’ll head to the jungles of Peru, where a shaman will brew you some mescaline-laced psychedelic tea — don’t worry; the intense nausea means you’re grasping new dimensions of reality.

Next, read a book on evolutionary psychology to remind yourself that you’re just a social primate with genetically programmed urges. Then read some Stoic philosophy to control those urges. Take ownership of your day and soon enough you’ll be a millionaire, running your own lifestyle coaching empire.

On the surface, this is the message of a new generation of wellness gurus, a network of podcasters centered on Austin, Texas, and Southern California. Yes, they are easy to mock, and their gospel of health, wealth and contentment comes with the usual moral hazards: Too much faith in self-improvement glosses over structural injustices that place real limits on what’s possible for many people.

But over the past few years the podcasters have become a significant cultural phenomenon, spiritual entrepreneurs who are filling the gap left as traditional religious organizations erode and

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