If you want to find podcasts that will make you a better person and achieve personal growth, you could be stuck wandering digital aisles for a while. With so many choices, it can be hard to even find the gems that shine through the deluge. The ones that make you feel less alone, and you can’t wait to tell a friend about. The ones that help you go further inside of yourself and release change.
The options below are both life-changing in micro ways, like small fabric repairs for your mind, and brilliant in their wisdom. Here are 10 podcasts that will make you a better person.
How Mindfulness Can Affect How We Live
Meditation and mindfulness practices have gotten very popular. But it can be hard in the beginning to see the positive effects of your practice. This podcast will help you keep your motivation through the tough times. Experts from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, nutrition and more come on the show to share how meditation and mindfulness have helped shape their lives and work in profound ways.
2. On Being, with Krista Tippett
Conversations About the World, the Spirit and the Mind
“On Being”is made up of the soul-searching conversations we all should have been having in college. It is a Peabody award-winning podcast that feels like a free luxury. Examples of past guests include Jane Goodall, Congressman John Lewis, Ocean Vuong and the poet Mary Oliver. The host, Krista Tippett, is a graduate of Yale University, where she received a Masters of Divinity. In 2014 she was awarded The National Humanities Medal. As a listener’s proxy, she leads conversations to the tenderest part of the heart.
3. Poetry Unbound
What We Can Learn from Poetry
“Poetry Unbound” is from the studios of “On Being” and happens to offer one of the best ways to calm the nervous system: listening to short, immersive poems. In addition, it’s a great way to get into a creative frame of mind before starting in on any writing of your own.
4. The Tara Brach Podcast
A Blend of Western Psychology and Eastern Spiritual Practices
This podcast is a series of weekly talks that host Tara Brach gives on living freer and more mindfully. She is a psychologist, best-selling author and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington D.C. Her talks combine anecdotes, thematic mediation sessions and her own critical thought. For example, in a recent episode, she explores how to be a better listener, and how to not die on a hill of toxic shame.
I would listen to these episodes on the 7 Train in New York during rush hour, but I could have just as well been in a sensory deprivation tank; she had me by the breath.
5. Code Switch
Conversations About Race Hosted by Journalists of Color
“Code Switch” is an unflinching look at the topics of the day through the lens of race and the legacy of racism. A team of two sit at the hosting desk: Shereen Marisol Meraji, an award-winning journalist, and her co-host Gene Demby, the former managing editor of the Huffington Post’s BlackVoices. They come together weekly to give listeners a better idea of the impacts of race. Issues range from qualified immunity to the cultural shorthand for white women: “Karen.” While this podcast excludes self-help tactics like the ones above, it includes an important notion: to be a better person is to understand the social permissions, privileges and systems that you exist within and from which you benefit.
6. Intersectionality Matters, with Kimberlé Crenshaw
Understand the Nuances of the World Better, so You’ll Know Yourself Better Too
Here’s another podcast that’ll help you with self-growth. Similar to “Code Switch,” Crenshaw does a terrific job of gathering scholars, literary authors and activists to talk about historical roots of the present-day issues and the connections across social problems and movements. Here’s a quote from an episode in July called, “Politics, Power, and the Struggle Against Black Precarity” that speaks to why tuning into this show matters: “By pulling back the curtain… we all have the opportunity to become better partners, constituents and torchbearers for those in the struggle.”
7. Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel
Esther Perel is so well-known her name is nearly a metaphor. And she deserves every bit of the popularity. In this podcast, she counsels couples in one-time sessions through impasses in their relationship. The consistent theme throughout her work, including one of her TED Talks, is that we must learn to hold space for the tension of freedom and security in a relationship. The rate of failure from not doing so is hard to miss. As she puts it, “Never have we expected more from our intimate relationships, and never have we crumbled under the weight of so many expectations.” With your ear to the door of these intimate sessions, you can improve your partnering too.
8. Dear Sugars
A Podcast Based on a Cult-Favorite Advice Column
Two writers, Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed take their print column to earbuds everywhere. Cheryl is the author of the book, “Wild,” which was an Oprah’s Book Club pick and adapted to film in 2014. Their show description is simple: “Radically empathic advice.” They discuss letters from listeners and respond to one or a few per episode with perspective-shifting insight. The most recently posted show included the topics of infidelity, friendship and in-laws. However, the range of what they discuss is not what makes the show unique; it’s their sincerity. You can feel them be thoughtfully willing to go back into their difficult pasts, grab the advice hidden under their own young skin and come to you with answers. Like having the guidance of good friends, this podcast will make you a better person.
9. Ten Percent Happier, With Dan Harris
Explore the Ways You’re Limiting Your Happiness
After a panic attack on air, news anchor, Dan Harris learned how to meditate. He had thought meditating was an absurd practice, until it helped. This podcast honors the power of meditation and much more. It looks at fundamental aspects of life to understand the limiting habits of our minds.
10. Live Awake
Reflections for Getting Centered
This is a series of reflections and guided meditations. Sarah Blondin, the host, writes poetic, arresting and empathic prose that help return you to yourself. Here’s an episode on “Feeding the Heart and Caring for its Goodness.” We can’t do good in the world without caring for ourselves first and often.
Have more suggestions for podcasts that will make you a better person? Leave us a comment below.