Sick of aiming for excellence and feeling miserable when you fall short? You’re not alone. Explore the upsides of imperfection, lowered expectations, and outright failure with philosopher Daniel Milo, writer Avram Alpert, School of Life teacher Sarah Stein Lubrano, and Zahra Dhanani, who has adopted the “good enough” life.
I like this grouping of offerings. something for everyone!
Four years ago, I listened to my very first podcast episode.
At the time, I thought the format was a bit weird — it’s like radio but… I can listen to it whenever I want? Nonetheless, I quickly fell in love with it and haven’t looked back since.
Over the past six or seven years, podcasting has exploded and become a household term. Whether it’s a podcast hosted by your favorite celebrity like Alec Baldwin or Anna Faris or a serial like the wildly popular Making a Murderer, there’s something for everyone.
But where I’ve found the most value in podcasts is as a vehicle for change. With everything else going on in my life I find it hard to manage fitting in time for both professional and self-improvement. However, podcasts allow me to do that in the most efficient way possible: while I’m on the move.
Whether I’m driving, traveling, cleaning, running, grocery shopping, or doing any other assortment of errands, I can listen to a podcast (often more than one episode), get a ton of value crammed into the in-between time where I otherwise wouldn’t be doing anything productive in particular, and motivated to do more in my own life.
There are a lot of amazing podcasts out there but iTunes and Spotify don’t exactly make it easy to find them. Also, there are a lot of different ways you might want to work on yourself depending on your goals.
With that in mind, we’ve crafted a list of the best motivational podcasts available in several categories including:
- Health and fitness
- Happiness and well-being
- Performance, productivity & life hacks
- Entrepreneurship and leadership
So, whether you’re looking to work on a single category or find something to help you work on every area of your life, below you’ll find a podcast for everything.
Health & Fitness
Interested in refining your body and mind? Want to change your diet or get fit? Below are three outstanding podcasts that will help you do that.
Bulletproof Radio is one of the most unique podcasts on this list and one that doesn’t have much competition on iTunes.
The podcast could be organized into several categories on this list because, for host Dave Asprey of the Bulletproof brand, it’s all about gaining a complete understanding of how the mind and body work in tandem to maximize its capability.
Asprey talks about cutting-edge supplements, workout equipment and exercises, and interviews top experts in everything from biochemistry to medicine. If your goal is the master your health but with a specific mind towards performance, it’s one of the best and will really motivate you to get moving.
The Doctor’s Farmacy with Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D.
The Doctor’s Farmacy (yes, Farmacy with an ‘F’) with Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. is one the most comprehensive health-centric podcasts available on iTunes today.
If you’re looking for a single podcast to subscribe to that covers the full range of possible health and fitness-related topics, this is the best there is. Dr. Hyman is smart and easy to understand and makes things relevant to everyday life.
Nutrition Diva is a podcast hosted by self-proclaimed “nutrition diva” herself Monica Reinagel that’s all about, well, nutrition and healthy eating as you might expect. If you’re looking for a strictly nutrition-based podcast, this is one of the best.
But what’s really great about this podcast is Reinagel’s short, bite-sized format. Each episode is just ten to fifteen minutes long and targets a specific nutrition topic such as whether the natural fructose in fruit is really bad for you like artificial sugar is and how much Omega-6 our bodies need.
If you’re a busy person and you’re looking for podcasts to improve your health and fitness, this can fit the diet/nutrition slot perfectly.
Happiness & Well-Being
Looking to reduce stress and anxiety, navigate life’s challenges better, or bring a little more joy into your life? These are the podcasts to help you do that.
10% Happier with Dan Harris
10% Happier is, at its core, a meditation podcast. It’s leagues better than virtually any other podcast of its kind available for several reasons and can teach you a lot about how to become happier, whether you’ve tried meditation already or not.
The podcast is primarily an interview show through the lens of exploring the meditation practices of the various interviewees and, in some rare cases, their spiritual beliefs. The guest list includes everyone from meditation experts and spiritual teachers to T.V. execs, producers, actors and actresses, entrepreneurs, and everything in between.
However, what really makes this podcast special is the fact that it’s hosted by ABC Nightline news anchor Dan Harris, who was once a devout skeptic of meditation (and very much still is a skeptic in a general sense by nature), making it incredibly interesting and full of value.
Harris is inquisitive, curious, and critical while being fair and open-minded at the same time. It creates for a wonderfully valuable and entertaining format that will teach you more about what it takes to truly be happier than virtually any other show out today, audio or visual alike.
Ram Dass Here and Now
For the past several decades, Ram Dass has been teaching in the states what he learned decades ago when he and many others traveled to India during the ’70s and since applied in his own life. This podcast is a collection of his recorded talks from various events over that time.
Part of what’s great about Ram Dass is that he doesn’t come off as some transcendental guru who you’re not sure you can trust. Instead, he’s a regular guy who talks in terms of daily life and its challenges and he’s a master at placing things in perspective and then offering simple, relevant wisdom.
If you’re looking for a podcast where you can delve deep into the mind and what happiness really is while miraculously staying grounded (often with a good bit of storytelling), Ram Dass’ Here and Now is what you need.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Similar to 10% Happier but in an entirely different way, Happier with Gretchen Rubin is more discerning and experimental in nature, being almost scientific about happiness.
The podcast follows former New York City lawyer turned bestselling author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin and her sister, writer and producer Elizabeth Craft, as they break down topics such as mental reframing, habits, and general life wisdom in both a smart and entertaining way.
If you’re interested in learning how to navigate the challenges of daily life and become happier from a more scientific perspective, you’ll love this.
Performance, Productivity & Life Hacks
If the name of the game is honing your mind and maximizing your performance, below are the best podcasts for helping you do it.
The Tim Ferriss Show
If your goal is to master yourself — your process, your craft, your life — this is one of the best podcasts to help you do it.
The interviewees are high-profile and incredibly diverse, from actor and entertainer Jamie Foxx to meditation expert Tara Brach, director James Cameron, entrepreneur Richard Branson, and actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But what really makes this podcast special is Tim Ferriss himself who is incredibly passionate about helping others become world-class performers. Ferriss is both an exceptional interviewer and thoughtful about who he has on the show, what he discusses, and is very open to talking about his own life and process as it pertains to his performance.
The Tony Robbins Podcast
Like The Tim Ferriss Show, The Tony Robbins Podcast is an interview show. However, the format is much different and less welcoming.
That said, what it lacks is made up for in large part by the quality and diversity of guests and the fact that it gives you the opportunity to hear from renowned performance coach Tony Robbins without having to pay to attend one of his events, even if it’s just for a short time.
If your focus is improving your performance, this podcast is right behind the Tim Ferriss Show and a welcomed addition.
Optimal Living Daily
Optimal Living Daily is the most unique of the podcasts in this section by far. The concept is ridiculously simple but you’ll quickly find the value you get from it to be on par with virtually any other podcast available in this category.
There are no live conversations, but rather, host Justin Malik reads the work of popular bloggers such as Ramit Sethi, Leo Babauta, and James Altucher on the topics of productivity, happiness, mindset, and finance among others.
It at first might sound like an odd format, however, if you’ve ever experienced the value of audiobooks, it offers much the same feel but in more bite-sized chunks and with varied topics.
If you’d prefer a more structured podcast with short, value-packed episodes (typically less than ten minutes long), you won’t regret giving Optimal Living Daily a listen.
We’re social creatures, so the better you are at navigating your relationships, the better your life will be as a whole.
If you’re looking to motivate yourself to create change in your intimate relationship, better navigate family life, or get along better with colleagues in the workplace, there’s something here for you.
Rise Together Podcast
I love the Rise Together Podcast because it’s the perfect mix of relationship advice, motivation, and performance improvement.
The podcast follows hosts Rachel and Dave Hollis’ as they work together as a couple to become the best versions of themselves and talk about how you can do the same. Episodes include topics such as: Let’s Talk about Sex Baby, 5 Ways to Show Up For Your Partner (Rachel’s Perspective), and Why Hard Conversations Are Key To Building An Exceptional Relationship.
If you’re looking for a podcast that motivates you to improve your life with your partner, you won’t find a better fit than this.
Anna Faris is Unqualified
Comedian Anna Faris is the most unlikely of hosts in this relationship podcast. But she’s so awesome.
Anna Faris is Unqualified is unique among relationship podcasts because she, along with cohost Sim, interview celebrities about their own relationships: both the ups and the downs, including everyone from David Spade to Kelly Ripa, Topher Grace, and Kat Dennings.
Along the way, Faris offers her own brand of wisdom and makes you laugh through the entire ride. It’s less potent compared to a podcast like the Rise Together Podcast, however, it’s easier to get engrossed in episodes and you end up coming away with a really valuable and diverse collection of insights from all different people.
Dr. Laura Call of the Day
Take a good scroll through iTunes and you’ll notice something after a while: intimate relationships aside, there aren’t many podcasts for navigating relationships in a general sense (and even then, it’s hard finding good podcasts on intimate relationships that aren’t just about sex). Dr. Laura fits that bill like a glove and then some.
Dr. Laura has one of the longest-running relationship-centric podcasts on iTunes (and her radio show has been running for more than thirty years) with several hundred episodes. The great part about the podcast is each episode is centered around a question, so you can peruse the list of episodes for questions relevant to things you’re interested in endlessly.
Entrepreneurship & Leadership
Whether you’re solopreneur, you have a team, or you’re simply in a leadership position and you’re navigating the challenges that come with those positions, the podcasts below are perfect for helping tease the best out from yourself.
I’ve watched my fair share motivational videos, listened to podcasts, and watched speeches, but few even come close to the power of retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink.
Jocko has a way of immediately placing your life in perspective and wiping away all excuses in an instant. He takes no BS from himself and his perspective will very quickly rub off onto you as well.
Plus, Jocko and director Echo Charles tackle some really intense topics, the kind of things very few people are talking about, so it’s simultaneously enlightening and informative.
The GaryVee Audio Experience
Similar to Jocko, Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t take crap and will offer consistent wake-up calls. However, where Gary differs is in his talks being more entrepreneurial in nature and specific to business, so the two together actually offer a nice mix.
Gary V. is also a master at staying ahead of social media and general digital marketing trends, making him an ideal person to follow as a business owner or thought leader who needs to make sure they’re staying relevant in a rapidly changing world.
The MFCEO Project
MFCEO stands for m*ther f*cking CEO and, if the name of the podcast is any indication, it’s intense.
Similar to the other podcasts in this section, host Andy Frisella, a successful entrepreneur in his own right, will motivate you to take action even when you’ve got nothing in the tank.
Frisella has regular guests hosts and discusses a whole range of topics such as mindset, communication skills, motivation, confidence, and productivity, making it a great all-in-one podcast if you’re looking for entrepreneurial, leadership, and self-improvement advice.
I have done some study of shamanic practices and through these workshops have come to appreciate their wisdom. It is still relavent!
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.” ~ Angeles Arrien
We can collectively feel the loss of soul. It’s palpably cringe-worthy. Our culture reeks of it. Our society moves without it, rigid and machine-like, grinding us through its unforgiving gears.
We’ve inadvertently created a system that praises the independent ego at the expense of the interdependent soul, a system where the majority of people have uninitiated egos that are crushed by a codependence on a profoundly unhealthy and unsustainable state.
The uninitiated, so far removed from feeling, cannot even fathom a regaining of the soul (let alone soul-work), and they cannot even fathom that they cannot fathom it.
But hope is not lost. Soul lies dormant even within the seemingly soulless. It’s just waiting to be lit. An uninitiated ego is just a caterpillar that hasn’t found its cocoon yet. Shaman’s since time immemorial have known this.
There are methods, soul-tactics and soul-craft, that can trick the ego into falling into the cocoon. There are sacred plants and mysterious entheogens that can be used to trip our caterpillar self into the cocoon.
But perhaps the best strategy is to provide simple but challenging questions that the uninitiated can “answer” for themselves, thus stumbling naturally into the cocoon where soul can be retrieved.
The following four questions might be a good place to start.
1.) When did you stop dancing?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The ancients knew that nature exhibits a fundamental drive towards equilibrium: Shakti; while it also has a fundamental drive towards change: Shiva. Shakti is the dance. Shiva is the dancer.
Like yin and yang, the dancer and the dance exist as one.
Also, like ego and soul, the dancer and the dance exist as one. What matters is the dance (life / energy / soul / yin / Shakti) must go on. And, lest we give into inertia, atrophy and entropy, the dancer (body / ego / yang / Shiva) must keep dancing.
The problem is fear. Fear keeps the uninitiated ego inert. Fear prevents the caterpillar-self from even seeing the cocoon, let alone the work it will take to become a butterfly. Fear sets up walls around the uninitiated ego to the extent that it cannot even conceive of an energy like Soul.
Whether it’s the fear of retribution from the unhealthy state, the fear of looking like a fool, or the fear of being shunned by our peers, it’s a very real fear that has very real consequences. But, as the Japanese Proverb sates, “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”
So why dance? Why move into new challenging territories when we can just remain still and safe? Why stretch our comfort zone if we’re content with where we’re at? Put simply: Life is why we dance. Life is why we move. Life is why we reject inertia, complacency, apathy, entropy and death. We dance so we can grow. We grow so we can live life to the fullest.
We live life to the fullest so that we can feel the divine energy of Soul moving through us as we challenge ourselves to overcome our previous self. And overcoming ourselves is the essence of the dance. As Barbara Deangelis said, “The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.”
2.) When did you stop singing?
“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” ~ Voltaire
So you’re in the gutter? Roll over and look up at the stars. Howl at the moon. Open up your throat chakra and let the universe hear your unique-as-your-own-fingerprint song. Rock bottom is a great foundation to begin again.
That’s where our core self is revealed, where our root nature is unmasked, where the ugly ego is allowed to growl and kick and scream and rail at the universe.
Because we’ve got to get that shit out of the way if we’re ever going to be able to touch Soul, let alone harness it into soul-craft.
Once again the problem is fear. Fear keeps the soul from rising up into our voice box. It tampers soul like it tampers our inner-child, suppressing it to no end. Singing is art, and the tiny, woe-is-me, uninitiated ego is scared shitless of art.
Especially art that challenges comfort zones and breaks mental paradigms. Better to just shut down, says the uninitiated ego afraid of individuation. Better to put in ear plugs and curl up into a ball. It’s safer that way. But the soul says “screw that! I want to sing!”
Singing is letting your inner-child whistle despite the surrounding storm. It’s a humming, a vibration of the soul that recalibrates the negative energy of a place into a healthy song. Like dancing, it’s a performance, a rendering of the crucibles and vicissitudes of life through poetic verse before a live audience.
It’s singing, “fuck the audience! I’m going to sing how I want to.” In fact, it’s a life-lyric that only you can sing. The voice box of God is sitting there collecting dust, and all you have to do is pick it up and then have the courage to blow your truth into it. What are you waiting for? Sing!
3.) When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
“Reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.” ~ Terence McKenna
We are social creatures who need each other to survive. Similarly, we are storytelling creatures who need stories to survive.
Mashing these two concepts together, we are psychosocial mythologizing creatures who relate to each other through ever-evolving mythological stories.
We seem to have a built-in need for stories and storytelling that cannot be explained by reason. These stories reveal to us secrets of the universe that our pithy rationality and rigid logic simply cannot. They satiate our hunger for meaning and purpose that our science and philosophy cannot compare to.
Soul work and soul-craft are really about changing outdated stories and then being enchanted by new ones. The defining narratives and myths of our unhealthy civilization simply do not work anymore (if they ever did). They don’t resonate anymore. They are anti-nature and thus ecocidal.
We need a new narrative, a new story to tell. We need to tell each other stories of interconnectedness, and then mythologize those stories into an underlying ethos. We need to tell each other stories of balance and health, of moderation and equilibrium, of love and compassion. Heroic stories that transcend money and things-things-things.
Being enchanted by stories is being enchanted by truth, meaning, and purpose. It’s being enchanted by life moving through our unquenchable imaginations. Stories are where the fire that we stole from the gods is allowed to burn fierce in all its glory.
Stories are where the golden elixir that we discovered on our Hero’s Journey is allowed to work its magic. Stories are where the secrets of the universe are decoded into human understanding, where the heart of God is ripped from its cosmic chest and dissected beneath the scalpel of human imagination.
4.) When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
“Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.” ~ Rumi
Solitude and meditation. Silence and contemplation. As it turns out, the great loneliness isn’t so lonely, as long as you’re striving soul-centrically despite your ego-centric upbringing. No easy task.
Our ego falsely accuses silence as a lack of something. Coming from our hyperreal cultures hell bent on jackhammering and car-honking itself through the clanking steel and blaring ambulances, it’s no wonder silence seems like something has been taken away from us.
But as Anne D. LeClaire said, “Silence is not an absence but a presence.” Indeed.
Out there, away from the things of man, in the deep wilderness, there is a silence so deafening you can hardly hear it.
It reveals to us a vital truth: It’s only when we’re alone with the silence that we realize we are never truly alone.
For all things are connected. A great interdependence is at hand, unfolding itself within an even greater interdependence known as the Great Mystery. God is out there, revealing itself as us, speaking a language older than words; communicating with trees and rivers, mountains and deserts, wolves and the wind.
The truth spoken out there cannot be put into words. It can only be revealed through love. Which is why it is so important to reanimate the soul. Your soul. Out there in the sweet territory of silence, there is a truth that only you can hear. That only you have ears for.
So it must be you who goes out there and listens to it. Be there with it. Find a sacred space, a place that speaks through you, and then simply let it speak. Hear it with the ears of a mythological hero, and then come back and teach us what you heard through your love.
Maybe we’ll understand it, maybe not. Enchant us with your story anyway. Sing your newfound truth anyway. Dance your unique dance anyway. Because you never know whose soul may need reanimating.
Starting a Category on “Inspiration” – first post to it!
“If you do something out of duty it will deplete you, but if you do something out of love it will energize you.” ~ Unknown
There are several things that motivate us as human beings to want to change, reach our goals or achieve our aspirations. One of the main motivators to better ourselves is often other people.
How many times have we heard or even said ourselves, “I am going to stop drinking for my kids,” “lose weight for my spouse,” “stop smoking for my parents,” etc… And while it may sound noble to use our loved ones as the fuel behind our fire, it actually may end up working against us rather than for us.
Down one way we have the energy of duty/obligation and down the other path is the energy of love/joy. The energy behind our actions makes all the difference in the world.
As time passes, and we use obligation as our reason for our actions we will begin to feel depleted energetically.
Everything we do becomes something we “have” to do rather than something we want to do, which ensures that either we will fail at said task, or we will feel so terrible about having to accomplish it that we will begin to resent the people, places or things that we used as the initial motivation.
With one small shift in perspective (from duty to love) we can actually shift the energetic component that stands behind our desire to change to something that will give us a much higher success rate, which consequently turns us into the person we aspire to be.
So how exactly do we approach things from this different standpoint? How do we go about taking all the things in our lives that have become “have to’s” (have to go to work, have to eat healthy, have to exercise, have to take my kids somewhere, have to clean the house…) and instead switch them to want to’s or better yet, get to’s?
Here are some tips to transform our energy from obligation to joy:
“Self care is never a selfish act, it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” ~ Parker Palmer
1) Stop focusing on the part you don’t want to do, and instead let your task go hand in hand with something you do want to do
Anytime we partner our obligatory task with something that makes it more enjoyable to accomplish we can switch our perspective from something we dread doing to something we are actually looking forward to.
For example, if someone hates exercising but loves listening to music, they can use listening to music as their reason that they will exercise.
Another example would be if someone feels like they are depriving themselves while they are eating healthy, but they love to cook, they can use trying out new recipes or even showing off how well they can make healthy food taste good to their friends or family as the motivation behind their new eating habits.
When we marry something we don’t think we love to do with something we do love to do we trick our mind into looking forward to things rather than trying to avoid them.
2) Switch from saying “have to” to “love to”
This one step alone completely changes the way our subconscious deals with the activities we partake in.
If we switch from saying things like, “I have to lose weight,” “I have to stop smoking,” or “I have to clean up my house” to “I love being able to buy new clothes when I am more confident in myself,” “I love the way I feel when I don’t smoke,” and “I love the way my house looks after I’ve taken the time to clean it”, our subconscious mind starts to match up these activities with something we find enjoyable which means when it comes to doing them we will be more inclined to success in these tasks.
3) Love yourself no matter what
This one is huge and probably the single most important step we can take when we are trying to take on better habits. There are going to be days in your journey that you don’t feel like eating healthy, exercising, or cleaning the house and that’s ok!
In fact, especially in the beginning stages of our trying to change something about ourselves the old us will beg to come back.
The one that still wants to eat sweets, smoke cigarettes, or sit around all day doing nothing, will inevitably try and creep back in to see if there’s still a place for them in our hearts.
Even if we do give in and find ourselves going back to old habits, if we treat ourselves with more forgiveness and love during these times rather than feeling ashamed of ourselves we will notice that over time these thoughts don’t pop in our minds as often.
As our vibration raises (which is accomplished by accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally) the actions that are called forth from us from this higher vibration will naturally be those more based in healthy and productive mannerisms.
Change is never easy, but if we always make the self-love as the number one priority in our life, we will find that we naturally begin to do things and make choices that we can be proud of. And while it’s not wrong to want to be a better person for other people or things other than our own self, the only thing that will give us results that stick with us over time is love and joy.
When duty and obligation switches to joy and love the world begins to feel like a fun place again, one that is always challenging us to be a better version of our former selves, and we are right there, ready to face the challenge head on.