In my previous post, “Someone is Trying to Tell You Something. Are you Listening?”, I spoke about finding inspiration by listening to what artists, poets, and other great thinkers have to say. In this post, I want to share some great resources for inspiration…the wonderful world of podcasts.
What I love about Podcasts
Listening to Really Cool People
You will wish these people were your friends and if you listen repeatedly, they will feel like friends. My sister said it perfectly, “A good podcast is like listening in to a conversation with really smart, interesting, inspiring people.” Hopefully you have smart, interesting, inspiring friends and the time to get together with them. But we can all benefit from being exposed to more brilliant people.
I love Marc Maron and his podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. He’s a wry, cynical, comedian who openly shares about his struggles with depression and substance abuse as he interviews a wide array of celebrity guests. Marc Maron has the amazing capacity to bring the personal and intimate out in his interviews while also being incredibly funny. My favorite episodes are interviews with Louis C.K., Rhett Miller, and Terry Gross. He’s a cool guy talking to cool people and they’re expressing themselves more truthfully then they would on a t.v. talk show.
Being exposed to new ideas
I’m not a science buff. It would never occur to me to listen to a science podcast. But my husband put on an episode of Radiolab, and I was enraptured by a story, Cellmates, told by brilliant science guys about our evolution from a tiny bag of cells into the vast menagerie of creatures we see around us. Learning something new and awe-inspiring, continuing to develop our brains is good for us. Whether we realize it or not, we crave it. In fact, learning something new is an excellent coping skill for stress or depression. Whether it’s taking a cooking class, learning a new computer program, or being exposed to new ideas through podcasts, learning diverts our attention and gives us a break from the problem. It also makes us realize that there is a lot more to life than just our problem.
Invisabilia is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Check out the episode The Secret History of Thoughts for a whole new way to think about your thoughts.
Getting to know people I might never have had the opportunity to meet
I know how the world looks through my eyes. I’m more interested in hearing how the world looks through other people’s eyes. Krista Tippet’s On Being podcast had a wonderful podcast Revealing Ramadan where sixteen Muslims, in their own words, speak about the delights and gravity of Islam’s holiest month. This podcast was so enlightening and inspiring that it made me want to experience Ramadan for myself. This was exposure to the inner worlds of people that have different religious beliefs and life experiences than mine and that is how we will build world peace. When we appreciate our differences and acknowledge our shared humanity.
The Moth shares small nuggets of personal storytelling written and performed by the authors; real people telling their personal stories in ways that are often hilarious and touching. The Moth has spawned live events in many major cities, including Los Angeles, where regular people step up and tell a five minute story based on the theme of the evening. Winners are picked from those events and can eventually make their way onto the radio. This radio show might just inspire you to tell your own story!
Thinking about life from different perspectives
For the longest time the only podcast that I listened to was the exceptional “This American Life”. This American Life is the most popular podcast in the country, with around 2.5 million people downloading each episode. I first encountered on my car radio as an NPR broadcast and so it was an easy transition to finding the show on the internet and downloading the shows to my phone so that I could listen to them on long road trips. In each episode there are a few different stories based on the theme of the week. These are stories about real people and they’re surprising, funny, moving, and inspiring. Some of my favorite episodes are:
Notes on Camp – Camp kids explain how their non-camp friends and their non-camp loved ones have no idea why camp is the most important thing in their lives. Most of this hour takes place at a pair of camps in Michigan—Lake of the Woods, a girls camp, and Greenwoods, a boys camp.
Fear of Sleep – Mike Birbiglia got used to strange things happening to him when he slept—until something happened that almost killed him (Mike’s story is now a feature film, Sleepwalk With Me). This and other reasons to fear sleep, including bedbugs, “The Shining,” and mild-mannered husbands who turn into maniacs while asleep.
How to Listen In
If you’re unfamiliar with podcasts and haven’t tapped into this amazing resource for entertainment and enlightenment, you really should give it a try. It’s very simple. You get an app from the app store. Some great podcast apps for Android phones are Pockets Casts, Beyond Pod, and Podcast Addict. Popular podcast apps for iphones are Overcast, Shiftyjelly Pocket Casts, and Supertop Castro. For just a few bucks, these apps will give you access to wonderful conversations that you can listen to while driving, on the bus, while you do the dishes, or while lying on the couch with the t.v. turned off for a change.
Find What You Love
If these podcasts don’t whet your appetite, there’s probably a podcast for every topic that you could possibly be interested in. You can google “What are the best podcasts of 2016” and get a list like this from Stuff T.V. list The 24 best podcasts of 2016 or Buzzfeed’s list 22 Podcasts That You Should Be Subscribing To In 2016
Ultimately, my message to you is…instead of filling your mind with fast food, low nutrition content that makes you feel sluggish and uninspired, you might want to start filling your mind with nutritious, interesting, educational, and enlightening podcasts.
Let us know what podcasts you love by putting them in the comments.