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People have a lot of strange addictions, which is why the TLC show was made in the first place. I, over the past year or two, have developed one of those, but it is over something that some people might not view as inherently negative: podcasts. I listen to them when I wake up, get ready, take a shower, walk to class, and before bed… you get the point. I listen to slightly too many podcasts and consume one too many hours listening to other people’s opinions and stories about life. Since I began listening to various creators, I have discovered some new ones and stopped listening to others that no longer aligned with my beliefs. I went through many phases but continue to prioritize some over others. This is a very long-winded way of saying that I consider myself somewhat of an expert, and could probably recommend podcasts about most things. That is why I have compiled a list of podcasts that I listen to fairly regularly and have fundamentally changed me. Here it goes.
Psychology and Therapy:
“Dear Therapists” with Lori Gottlieb and Guy Winch
I started listening to this podcast because I fell in love with a book that Lori Gottlieb wrote about therapy, so the next logical step was to listen to a podcast about that same thing. This podcast allows you to join someone else in the therapy room. You get to hear raw, emotional, and often incredibly tough emotions and stories being told while a therapist helps the person navigate through them. You get to hear the root of the problems and the lessons learned when they come back after attempting to solve some of their problems. The balance that both Gottlieb and Winch bring to the space is unmatched, and it showcases an approach to therapy that might not be considered as tough or confronting to the individual. The stories shared are very relatable and very human, and I think most people will find at least one dynamic, phrase, or feeling that resonates with their emotional state. The beauty of a podcast like this is that it simultaneously helps you heal a little bit just by listening to others’ stories and understand the people around you better.
“Where Should We Begin?” with Ester Perel
Another very similar podcast, yet the approach of the creators feels worlds apart. While it holds the same premise as “Dear Therapists”, “Where Should We Begin” feels more confronting, and it makes me usually feel heavier after I listen to it. The way that Perel conducts her therapy sessions feels a lot more serious, and she is more likely to push an individual when she can tell that they are not being completely honest or are more hesitant to completely lean into the process. This is a great podcast when I feel like I need someone to be a bit harsher or when I need to unpack something that feels difficult to begin exploring. I also love how she segments the episode and the times when she interjects to explain why she followed a specific line of questioning or switched her approach mid-session. It feels like I am also taking a deep dive into her mind, which I find fascinating. I put both podcasts together because I listen to each during different times of my life, and I think both are incredibly useful and insightful.
Social and Political:
“The Sh*t Show”
One of the staple podcasts in my life and the one that you will usually catch me listening to first thing in the morning. The essence of it is that Luce and her brother Nick read out headlines and explain the contexts of the major news headlines of the week. What sets this news podcast apart from other ones is the sibling dynamic that makes a lot of the heavier topics even slightly more lighthearted along with having a sense of familial bond and humor embedded into each episode. It is one of those podcasts that I listen to to gauge what other people think about worldly issues but also to find out about some of the most niche news headlines that I would not have come across anyways. The highlight of all of their episodes is definitely the ‘good news’ segment that they end their episodes on that wraps everything up in a little bow and leaves the listener on a high note.
This is one of the newer podcasts on my list but one that has already taught me so much. It describes its aim as helping people relearn everything that they were taught about economics but I believe that that is downplaying itself. A lot of its episodes are about society, the way people show up in the world, and our lived experiences. Yes, it does discuss capitalism, socialism, and communism through different lenses. However, it also discusses race, health, education, systems, work, religion, class, and so much more. It dissects the issues and conversations that people have masterfully and attaches a more nuanced take to a lot of them. A podcast that is very timely and very needed.
If you know me at all, you know how much I love talking about pop culture and celebrities because, quite frankly, I cannot mind my own business. I also strongly believe that celebrities mirror society and that analyzing celebrities and trends can tell us a lot about the current state of the world and what people are seeking in their lives. “Culture Vulture” does just that. A podcast coming from the same woman that runs “The Sh*t Show”, however now accompanied by her friends, and has the same comforting dynamic as her other podcast. I deeply enjoy listening to their conversations about what celebrities owe us as fans and whether we have gone too far and expect too much. I also appreciate the time that they take to research the topics that they talk about and how psychological analyses and theories are brought up and help explain social issues. It is a go-to for me when I want to learn something new, but cannot get myself to analyze heavier news topics.
The thing that drew me to this podcast was listening to everything that my friends and I talk about, or a lot of these podcasts hosted by women discuss, but from men. I was fascinated by the way that they spoke about issues that everyone faces, but ones that I have rarely heard anything about from a man’s perspective. The creators are so soft-spoken and gentle while also being raw and powerful. They have discussed every possible topic under the sun, from things affecting only men to experiences only women can understand to everything in between and beyond. They also have incredibly vulnerable talks with each other which reinforces the idea that it is okay for men to feel the things that they do and to talk about it in that manner. It is such a breath of fresh air and one that fills me up with joy everytime I think about it.
“The Diary of a CEO”
The next two podcasts on this list are ones that are more well-known but deserve to be added to this list anyway because they are classics in the sphere. “Diary of a CEO” is an interview-style podcast that focuses on health, fitness, well-being, and business. The host, Steven Bartlett, talks to various people at the top of their fields to try to gain as much knowledge and help as many people improve themselves and their lives. My favorite thing about this podcast is the pace at which it goes, the atmosphere created by the host, and the length and depth that it goes into. It doesn’t feel too long or too short, and I always feel like I learned so much in one hour. I also appreciate the video version available on YouTube when I sit in bed and want to color or solve my puzzle while listening to something else on the side.
The pinnacle of self-help (literally) and the man that everybody follows and praises in the self-help and wellness spheres across all social media platforms. His podcast episodes are some of the most insightful and life-changing episodes you will listen to. It will show you how some simple habits and routines can change the trajectory of your days and life, yet also discusses each one in immense detail. His episodes are a lot longer than the others on this list, most landing between two and two and a half hours, but that is the beauty of them. They are definitely meant for longer car rides or walks and also for when you are deeply invested in your health. Proceed with caution. It will definitely force you to change your life.
Facetiming a friend:
“Inner monologue” with Olivia Neill
Definitely my favorite type of podcast to listen to because after a long day of classes and work I just want to lay down and feel like I am on a call with my friend, except I do not have to talk. Win-win. Olivia Neill started as a YouTuber and now has a podcast where it feels like she is updating you about her life while sharing her tragedies and lessons at the same time. I enjoy it because of how relatable it is but also how unrelatable it is at times. She is a blonde, Irish, financially independent, 22-year-old, living alone and navigating her 20s and dating life. Basically, nothing like me. But somehow, it still makes me feel so understood, and her episodes come out at the perfect time. It feels like a big hug, a best friend gossip session, and philosophical talks all in one.
“Inside Anna’s Mind”
I can only aspire to be half as self-aware or intelligent as Anna. Another YouTuber, this time a fitness, well-being, and lifestyle influencer, takes us through her life while she breaks down what she learned from her love life, breakups, and therapy sessions. She has made me rethink a lot of what I was taught in mainstream media and taught me how to love myself, fix my inner dialogue, and cope with hustle culture. Imagine your friend going to therapy and then relaying everything that they learn to you so that you can live and learn vicariously through them. This is what this podcast is all about.
“Pretty Lonesome” with Madeline Argy
Last but certainly not least, a podcast that is so much more than facetiming a friend. Madeline takes you through her own journey of discovering herself, her identity, sexuality, and her expectations while also telling you some of the craziest stories you will ever hear. My favorite thing about her might be her talking pace because she talks at the perfect speed for my brain and it feels like I am being thrown into her life, which is the best way to consume most forms of content these days. Just like her TikToks, but in longer form, her life experiences are not relatable to the masses. Still, the sheer comedy and insanity that is available in one episode is one that most people have to experience. I look forward to every episode of hers, as should you, because nothing comes close to her storytimes.
Dana Mash'Al is Deputy Columns Editor. Email them at email@example.com