Try this: listen to a podcast

Trying new things is a great way to feel an invigorating boost in life. Occasionally, on a Monday, I’ll be posting an idea for trying something new with the details on how and why I think you should do it, too. Consider it your mission should you choose to accept it. 😀

For a while now, I’ve been pretty in love with podcasts. Over at the last six months, they are all I’ve listened to on my phone. Music has been relegated to runs and runs only and that is probably only because I haven’t yet found a way to listen to podcasts while I do that, too. I listen to them in the office, while traveling, there are even a few that Kevin and I listen to together in the car.

March is #Trypod month, a campaign which encourages people to share their favourite podcasts and to get their non-podcast-listening friends subscribing as well.

A podcast is an episodic audio series that can address a specific topic or theme, a story or be based on personality of the host and/or guests. They can be fun, humourous, educational, thought-provoking or any combination of those things depending on what you like. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there so there has got to be a few you would be into.

Getting started couldn’t be easier. If you have a mobile device, it’s pretty likely that you have a podcast app at your fingertips. Just open it up, search the name of a podcast and subscribe. (Don’t have any leads? Look below or ask your friends.) You can also look back into the archives to listen to older episodes. I would recommend (from experience) that you download a number of episodes while connected to your home wifi and store them on your device. This will save you risking going over your data plan limitations if you’re streaming them on the go. Your podcast app can likely be set up to delete them once they have been played.

If you find the right podcasts, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. Here are a few that I listen to on the regular.

My favourite podcasts.

  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin & Elizabeth Craft. If I had to pick a favourite podcast, this one would be it. Rubin, the NYC authour of books like The Happiness Project and Better Than Before is joined by her sister, a TV writer in LA, Liz Craft. They talk about creating habits that help make for a happier life with tips and tricks for and from listeners as well as interesting guests who expand the topics to their areas of expertise. Some of my favourite episodes have been about picking a signature colour (episode 75) and picking a Happiness 911 song (episode 87 – more on that below.)
  • Radical Candor. This one is a doozy. This is the one podcast that I only feel comfortable listening to when I can give it my full focus. This is one I listen to alone and at a time when I’m in quiet surroundings. In fact, I want to devote my attention to it so deeply, I often listen to it with ear buds. Radical Candor – Care Personally and Challenge Directly. Episodes include: Ruinous Empathy and Praise, Ruinous Empathy and Criticism, How to Get Feedback from Your Boss, Make Meetings Less Awful, Radically Candid Criticism (<– this episode was my favourite so far.) This podcast is really, really impactful, but it’s a personal challenge at the same time.
  • Note to Self. Host Manoush Zomorodi tackles “essential quandaries for anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age.” Lots of talk about technology and modern living and the mixing of the two. I’m put off by information delivered at a level that is over my head and Note to Self is easily digested and applied to life. Recently, they launched The Privacy Paradox, a project to help listeners/participants better understand how they control their personal information. I was only able to go through a few of the exercises (the others are still waiting in my inbox) but it was definitely eye-opening and worth the effort.
  • Making Oprah. I don’t remember how I ended up listening to this one. I’m not particularly oprah enthusiastic so it seems kind of random, but it was very enjoyable and, in fact, it brought a whole new respect for her. Short and sweet, it’s a six episode series with a bonus Donahue installment at the end. This would be a good starter podcast for a newbie.
  • Serial. Season one or two is a seriously divisive distinction when it comes to Serial listeners. Season one told the story of the death of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent arrest and questionable conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed. Season two took a totally different approach and addressed the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan. To me, season one was attractive because it was sensational. Season two, however, that was the season that I enjoyed the most. I recorded countless tidbits of information on little pieces of paper or in the Notes app on my phone and I think of the dynamics of the story often.
  • Anna Faris is Unqualified. “Not-so-great relationship advice from completely unqualified Hollywood types.” Fantastic. And hilarious. They’ll go off on these improv riffs that are just phenomenal. Like, literally laugh out loud while you’re walking down the street phenomenal. It’s the kind of stuff you can’t plan and can’t rehearse and people that are just really damn funny. My favourite: episode #77Milo Ventimiglia.
  • Love Alexi. Alexi Wasser is adorably neurotic and super fun to visit with – at least, that’s the vibe she gives off. Her podcast is set up as interviews with people most of whom are just slightly off my radar. She is so cute and so fun and so completely out there sometimes, but it’s impossible not to love her. Check it out. My favourite discovery via Love Alexi was Dallas Clayton (episode 28 here) and my favourite episode was with Lisa Loeb. (Lisa Loeb! Episode 40!) The only drawback is that some of the episodes are loooooooooooooooong. I don’t love that, but, for Alexi, I’ll do it (sometimes.)

Gretchen Rubin & me at Happier LIVE in Seattle

Have you already curated your own best podcasts list? Are you hooked on your own favourites? Then I have a challenge for you, too!

Try this: go see a live podcast.

Friends of ours went to see the live recording of one of their favourite podcasts last night and seeing their posts reminded me of how much fun we had when we went to see Happier live last October. (This was the Happiness 911 episode I mentioned above.) Also last night, I listened to Happier‘s second anniversary episode when they talked about favourite moments and many listeners wrote in and referred back to that night in Seattle. It sounds silly, but the memory of it, listening to the theme music and hearing others’ recollections of that night brought tears of joy to my eyes. I had a very strong emotional reaction to the memory and it was such a good one. It was definitely an experience that made me happier.

So, tell me: are you a podcast listener? If so, which are your favourites? If not, what’s stopping you?