Truly inspirational podcasts draw you in and don’t let you go. They can make you gasp, move you to tears, send you into fits of laughter (great for when you’re on a crowded bus, as we’ve discovered).
At a time of year when you’re prompted to think about resolutions, goals, and life changes, you may be seeking inspiration more than ever. So we figured this was the perfect time to round up the best and most inspirational podcasts of the year.
We’ve divided our picks into podcast series (where any or possibly every episode is geared to inspire) and specific episodes (where we think one, in particular, is worth singling out). Get them into your ears now.
The Most Inspirational Podcasts of 2018: Series
You’ve watched inspirational TED Talks that made you see the world in a different light. But did you know there’s also a podcast that brings those talks into a radio format?
The beauty of TED Radio Hour is that it doesn’t just give you the talks in isolation; it weaves them together based on different themes, creates connections between disparate pieces of wisdom, and expands the TED content you know and love into deeper narrative journeys—each one to a place worth visiting.
Invisibilia presents human stories, intelligently and sensitively told. Stories that explore emotions, ideas, beliefs, possibilities. It’s thought-provoking, moving, and, above all, engrossing.
The thing that puts Invisibilia high on our list of inspirational podcasts is the way it prompts you to think about things differently. It opens your eyes to “the invisible forces that shape human behavior” and leaves you to reflect on how those forces are shaping your own life.
Ever heard of a Happiness Guinea Pig? No, it’s not a viral video of a cute animal that makes you smile (though who doesn’t love those). It’s what The Science of Happiness podcast calls their guests. Each one tests out a strategy for living a happier, more meaningful life, and then reports back about how it worked for them.
The podcast is part of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, so it’s all about the research-tested methods for making life better. Gratitude, mindfulness, compassion, and social connection are all themes the podcast explores.
What makes great people great? Author, entrepreneur, and former pro football player, Lewis Howes, sits down with a roll call of heavy hitters in fields like business, sports, and psychology in an attempt to find out.
As far as the best motivational podcasts of 2018 go, this one packs something for everyone. The topics and guests are diverse, and the episodes range from long-enough-to-fill-an-hour-long-commute to bite-sized “five-minute Fridays”.
From changing your mental framework to overcoming fear to becoming your authentic self: the Mindvalley Podcast tackles transformative topics via interviews with the world’s greatest teachers and thought leaders.
Inspirational Podcasts of 2018: Episodes
What makes someone risk their own safety to save a stranger? Is it a matter of moral reasoning, or some instinctive human tendency toward doing what’s right? That’s the question at the heart of this RadioLab episode. And hint: When people heroically leap into a burning car, they usually don’t have time for moral reasoning.
This episode is doubly inspiring because it’s a reminder that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. And—faith in humanity be restored!—that a vast number of heroic deeds happen every day in regular life. Far more than we ever hear about.
In this episode, we’re introduced to the concept of “Sparketypes”. What are they? As the rather clever portmanteau suggests, they’re a set of archetypes we all fit into based on what lights our spark.
It takes a little while to get going, but once you’re in it, this inspirational podcast episode will get you thinking deeply about what type of work brings you meaning and fulfillment. It’s about reconnecting with your essence, discovering what nourishes your soul, and recognizing that often the hardest things in life are the most rewarding.
So which Sparketype are you?
In ecology, the edge effect describes a place “where two worlds touch and new life flourishes”. So the question is: If we were to expand our own ecosystems to where they reach the limits of other people’s, would we flourish? Would we be more creative?
In this episode of Hidden Brain, we find that the answer is yes. Studies show that when we interact with and learn about other cultures, our creativity soars. Listen to the episode to learn more.
“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before. So failure is actually not the opposite of success, it’s part of it.”
When you’re feeling inadequate or you’ve humiliated yourself by messing up, you might need to hear what Jim Kwik from Kwik Brain has to say. This episode is a perfect reminder that failing is not only okay, it’s necessary. Even better, Kwik runs through some simple steps you can follow in order to put your mistakes behind you.
Your turn: Do you have other inspirational podcasts you go to when you need to light a spark? Share yours in the comments.
Want more podcasts? Check out our list of productivity podcasts to turn up your efficiency asap.
Author: Tania Braukamper
Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer and photographer. She believes in curiosity, kindness, and adventure as a state of mind.