I am covered in snow. I have to remove tiny snowballs from my eyelashes so I can see. It’s so windy I have to walk backwards. Do I care? No. I’m listening to a good podcast.
The best podcasts entertain, teach and make me feel connected to the warmth of good conversation.
Not since families sat around the radio listening to their favorite dramas have humans been so connected to voice. In a world where escaping screens and multi-tasking are necessary, good podcasts are the fastest-growing balm to modern life. In the bath, on a walk, while you cook, or as an alternative to tv, podcasts are medicine right now.
And yet, two people told me in the last week that they have never listened to a podcast. Considering the sheer volume of new podcasts that pop up daily, it can make choosing a podcast intimidating.
What’s a podcast? It’s a mix between old radio and new culture-shifting ideas in the form of a jingle, followed by some ads and a really engaging conversation. At least, those are the ones I listen to. There is a whole world of crime, politics, news, history, finance, tech and anything you can think of out there.
This list is for newbies to get started, and for the rest of us to compare notes.
Which podcasts have blown your mind or made you laugh?
UNLOCKING US (for deep thoughts on human relationships)
Brené Brown’s take on vulnerability, courage and shame are essential listening. If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, I’d start with Sonya Renee Taylor on “The Body is Not an Apology.” Sonya’s culture-shifting thoughts on women’s relationship to their body and her experience as a performance poet will reach in and pull your heart out of your body, in a good way.
(I also loved her conversations with writer Sue Monk Kidd who wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Secret Life of Bees. I also loved The Art of Gathering, and The Power of Women’s Stories.)
MAGIC LESSONS (for creative inspiration and courage)
Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love and BIG MAGIC) chats with artists to coach them through their blocks and fears. She brings in experts to share their perspectives on a specific aspect of creativity. Her conversations with Brené Brown, Glennon Doyle, Mark Nepo and Sarah Jones are essential listening for anyone who wants to lead a bigger more creative life.
GOOP (for new perspectives on living well)
Gwyneth Paltrow is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I check in every week to see what they are talking about. I particularly appreciated Normalizing the Need to Rest and Retreat, Why It’s Normal to Dislike Exercise, GP’s interview with Julia Roberts, Dax Shepard, and Elizabeth Gilbert. I take it all with a grain of salt, but I gain insight from most of the guests. Co-host Elise Loehnen is an impressive researcher and her curiosity always takes the listener somewhere unexpected.
ARCHAIR EXPERT (for deep insights, raw honesty, and for the curious)
Dax Shepard’s self-deprecating humor, natural radio voice and refreshing emotional intelligence make this podcast rich. His conversation with Matthew McConaughey is surprisingly deep and eye-opening. Mathew’s zest for adventure is contagious. (Tip from a friend: Listen to Mathew read his book on Audible instead of watching tv.) Dax and his wife Kristen Bell talking marriage is a good reminder of the power of therapy.
She sings about it here:
I also loved Dax’s chat with Sophia Coppola and Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay’s insights on the brain are exciting. I didn’t know about all the work that Jewel has done for the mental health of teens. Her life journey is captivating. Dax’s interview with Ellen Pompeo kept me entertained while I was in the hospital last year. Emily Mortimer is delightful. Canada’s Liz Plank‘s chat with Dax about masculinity is fascinating.
SMARTLESS (for giggles and surprisingly deep meanderings)
Self-described as three idiots, Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, & Will Arnett make for a comedy pick-me-up I can’t get enough of. One of the three invite a surprise quest and the trio does an impromptu interview while they try to outdo each other with comedic insults. Martin Short, Will Farrell and Ricky Gervais are fun, but I was pleasantly surprised that they are taking the podcast towards more taboo topics like religion in their chat with Sam Harris. Always good for a laugh.
Others you need to know about:
Explore and please report back!