9 Great Podcasts to Boost Your Mind and Life

A podcast goes wherever you do, so take advantage of them

Photo by Siddharth Bhogra on Unsplash

Are we living in a brave new world of podcasts? The platform has grown from something done in a mother's basement to being dominated by corporations, celebrities, and huge podcast networks.

But no matter how much the industry grows, it is still one of the most personal. No other platform creates user connections like a podcast. Social media can’t do it, blogs do a little, videos are not bad, but a podcast is right there in your ear wherever you go.

There is an intimacy and connection between the podcast host and listener that other platforms can’t touch. The accessibility of podcasts also means constant entertainment or education.

Whether you’re driving, walking, trying to sleep, exercising, or just sitting there, a podcast gives you the opportunity to expand your mind and build knowledge.

There’s also some science behind this, too. A 2016 study out of UC Berkeley found that listening to narrative stories like podcasts can stimulate multiple parts of the brain.

Here are nine good ones if you’re looking to expand your mind.

1. Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know — hosted by Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant — is like the OG of podcasts. This is one of the most popular in the world and has been around since 2008.

This is the podcast I’ve listened to for the longest time. I’ve even got to see their live show — and it was incredible. They’ve done over 1400 episodes on every topic you could ever think of. And I mean every topic.

This is what makes their podcast so great. If you are looking to expand your knowledge in a wide variety of areas — this is your show. They cover big topics such as health care, finances, and environmental issues, but cover tiny little topics like board games, fractals, and macadamia nuts.

No matter your interests, there will be episodes that cater to you. And the topics you feel like you wouldn’t care about are often the most interesting. If you are looking to boost your knowledge, Stuff You Should Know should be at the top of your podcast list.

2. Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel

Esther Perel is a psychologist that lets you sit in on the sessions. You get to be a fly on the wall to see relationships of all types. You get to hear sessions for couples counseling, newlyweds, and parents and children.

What’s amazing about this show is getting this firsthand account of what people are going through and how they respond to it. The benefit that we as the listener get is there will be many situations that resonate with us.

Not only do you get to hear Esther’s advice, but you can see how it applies to your own life. If you’ve been considering therapy, this will give you a great insight into what to expect. But I think the biggest thing — by witnessing the sessions — is that it helps you to understand why we think the way we do.

3. By the Book

This is a great show if you’re interested in personal growth. It’s hosted by Jolenta Greenburg and Kristen Meinzer. The premise of the show is that the two of them take the most popular self-help books out there and put them to the test.

They take the lessons from each book and apply them to their lives for a two-week period. Then they report back on the results. This show is interesting not just if you want a report on a prospective book you’re interested in, but to see various applications of self-help.

I find it interesting to learn some different approaches that I had never considered. I like hearing the experiences of the hosts as I can decide if that specific approach can apply to me.

4. All in the Mind

This is a “bigger” podcast in that it’s hosted by BBC Radio 4. But it doesn’t feel like a soulless, corporate podcast.

This show is about the limits and potential of the human mind. You will learn all about the brain and behavior and the amazing connection between the two. This show is a true exploration of everything that makes us tick and covers topics such as addiction to artificial intelligence.

I like it because it also discusses mindfulness in depth. But it goes further than just the brain and behavior and looks at issues such as loneliness in our modern life and our response to it.

This is another great podcast to get a better understanding of why we think the way that we do.

5. The End of the World with Josh Clark

This podcast messed me up — but in a good way. We’re back with Josh Clark from Stuff You Should Know with a one-season show that came out a few years ago.

This 10-part series looks at the future of humanity and the dangers that we may face. It deals with existential threats and how the next 200 years of humanity are its most important.

This show will completely change the way you look at the world and the universe. It also looks at the issue of intelligence life and if we go extinct — is that the end for intelligent life in the universe?

This podcast looks at the environmental issue, biotechnology, natural risks, and what the future of artificial intelligence looks like.

I’ve listened to this entire series several times, and each time, I get something more from it.

#6. Good Life Project

This is the podcast if you want to live a more meaningful, connected, and vital life. It’s hosted by Jonathan Fields, who brings on very inspirational guest speakers.

The show focuses on inspiring and teaching. I like this as the guests share personal stories and you always find ones that apply to your own situation. I also like how the show gives actionable advice to make your life more meaningful.

The Good Life Project is a show you will love if you’re looking to live a fully engaged, and more purpose-filled life.

#7. Invisibilia

Invisibilia explores the invisible concepts that control our behaviors. This podcast also looks at these concepts and how they control our beliefs, cultural norms, assumptions, and emotions.

Invisibila was created by NPR and is hosted by Alix Spiegel, Lulu Miller, and Hanna Rosin. This show will really challenge you as the hosts will take a common concept and then present it in a new light. It will really change your way of thinking. It will also make you look more inward about why you believed something in the first place.

There are so many of these invisible forces that we don’t acknowledge, and we’re letting them determine so much of our happiness and self-worth. When you learn how these forces affect you, you can learn how to turn them around to create a positive change in your life.

#8. The Mindset Mentor

The Mindset Mentor is hosted by Rob Dial. Dial is a motivational speaker who encourages people to become more self-aware. This is another great show if you want to get specific with your life direction and improve your focus.

Like Invisibila, The Mindset Mentor is about relearning past behaviors. It’s about reprogramming the way you think and not letting negative thoughts control you.

We can entirely change our reality when we change our thoughts.

I have always found this fascinating: what got us to the point where we believe what we do? The Mindset Mentor will challenge, motivate, and inform you.

#9. How I Built This with Guy Raz

This show is more on the business side, but I find it incredibly inspirational. How I Built This looks at some of the great innovators and visionaries of our time. I always love this kind of thing because I find it incredible to hear the mindset behind truly creative people.

In this podcast, you get an inside look at people who never give up. We get to listen to some of the biggest names in business walk us through their success story. But most importantly, we learn about how they dealt with failure and setbacks.

You don’t need to run a business to be motivated by this show. We all need grit, perseverance, and creativity in life, and this podcast is like a masterclass learning from the best.

Final Thoughts

I go through periods where I’ll listen to quite a few podcasts. Then, there are times when it is just a couple. But I always make sure to check in with some of these shows to keep my mind as active as possible.

I find podcasts like these a great way to fill some of those periods of daily downtime. I think it’s important that we constantly challenge ourselves and not get stuck in a certain way of thinking.

There are many other great podcasts out there that can help challenge and boost your mind, but hopefully, there are a few here to get you started.

Some health, a little marketing, and a lot of 80s| The Startup, The Ascent, Better Marketing/Humans, PSILY|

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