5 Podcasts That Completely Changed The Way My Brain Works

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Fun fact about me: I listen to a lot of podcasts. It has become a real hobby of mine, and I’m ashamed to say that I never took advantage of the pure gold mine that is the Apple Podcasts app up until a few years ago.

Most of the people close to me don’t know that I spend many of my lunch hours – rain or shine – sitting in my car in a parking lot down the street from work listening to something. And, for the record, the rainy days are my favorite. Just sayin’.

Sometimes I’m embarrassed that this is what I spend my time doing… like I’m skulking off to be antisocial somewhere. Why am I sitting in my car alone instead of mingling with other people and eating lunch with friends? The answer is simple: My job is mentally demanding on so many levels (because when you’re expected to write about things all day, every day, you really can’t afford to have writer’s block). I often find myself needing a break from the thoughts and the words. Instead, I thoroughly enjoy filling my car with smart ideas from interesting people who are doing cool things.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a good trashy entertainment podcast. You know, the ones by people from The Bachelor franchise who no longer have real jobs and spend their time promoting products they don’t actually use while recapping the top celebrity gossip of the week. I’ll admit that I’ve listened to my fair share of gossip pods and that I LOOOVE The Bachelor franchise, but unfortunately, these kinds of shows just didn’t make the list.

So, anyway: I’ve listened to a lot of pods over the last two years. Seriously, like so many. I find that listening to other people’s stories makes me more in-tune with my own stories. It helps me find the inspiration to write and set realistic goals for what kind of storyteller I want to be.

Here are my five favorites, which have – each in their own way – rewired how my brain works.

1. Your Favorite Thing Podcast with Wells & Brandi

This is one of my favorite things! *DING* Perfect for when things are stressful and you need a break, Wells Adams and Brandi Cyrus (yep, Miley’s sister!) are fun and down-to-earth. Wells is a Nashville radio host and Brandi is a traveling DJ, and together they are intriguing and completely hysterical.

Why It Made My List: The whole idea of the pod is to talk about their favorite things (and sometimes their not-so-favorite things). From music to movies to things happening in the news, Wells and Brandi are honest and authentic. As a listener, their show makes me want to explore all of the things I genuinely enjoy and not be ashamed of anything.

*Even though Wells was on The Bachelorette, I don’t consider this a “trashy entertainment podcast.” Wells and Brandi are real, funny, and they could care less about #BachelorNation. 

2. Armchair Expert

Another fun fact about me: I am OBSESSED with Kristen Bell (like, really, I want to be her). When I saw on Instagram that not only was Dax Shepard starting a pod but Kristen Bell was going to be his first guest, I immediately knew I needed to get on board. After listening to Kristen’s episode (and feeling so inspired by how incredibly amazing she is), I continued to listen to Dax, who took me by surprise. Insanely honest and open, Dax is more than Kristen’s husband: he’s ridiculously smart, intuitive, and well-rounded. On the pod, he shares the mic with real experts and public figures, each of whom has an amazing story to share.

Why It Made My List: Listening to Dax has made me a genuine fan of his. I watched Parenthood when it was on and I loved him, but I never took him for the smart-guy type. (Sorry, Dax!) I am so happy to say that I was dead wrong; This man is smart, witty, and incredibly in-tune with the world. This pod, which never fails to interest me and take up all of my free time, creates a safe space for thought and authenticity. The people he interviews, from Ellen DeGeneres to child psychologist Dr. Wendy Mogel, are real, with real stories and perspectives on the world. Also, his co-host Monica fact-checks him at the end of every episode, which is refreshing in the current state of the world.

3. Lore

Lore is one of the first pods I listened to continuously, and it really sparked my regular listening habit. I can’t remember how I even came across it. One day, I just listened to the first episode and it was about Mercy Brown (Google her). Being a lifelong Rhode Islander, I was immediately captivated by the local tale I knew so well and needed to hear more. Lore, unlike the other pods I love, is about the truth behind our favorite folklore tales. Written and told by Aaron Mankhe (a mastermind, by the way!), Lore is incredibly engaging, interesting, and downright freaky. Another fun fact: I love creepy things.

Why It Made My List: Lore makes me want to be a better storyteller. Aside from being a successful podcaster (Lore has since been turned into an Amazon show), Aaron is an author of horror novels based on history. His novels are chilling and so, so good. I want to write the way he does, and I admire the work ethic it takes to research and write such terrifying stories so effortlessly.

4. Houston, We Have a Podcast

When people find out I listen to this pod, which is about NASA and the international space station, it always blows them away. I’m the first to admit that I’ve never really been a cosmo-loving space cadet. Actually, I’m terrified of space. But this pod, which was suggested to me by my boss, is so cool. With episodes on what it takes to become an astronaut, how ISS inhabitants work out in zero-g conditions, and what is on the horizon for “deep space” missions, this podcast is the coolest.

Why It Made My List: Literally, this podcast is out of this world. It’s interesting and different and puts a lot of things into perspective. The possibilities for stories are endless, and when I find myself stuck in a place of procrastination or am lacking inspiration, I just jet off into the universe with NASA. That usually solves the problem.

5. Magic Lessons

This is the pod I’ve most recently started obsessing over. Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. For my birthday last year, one of my forever friends gifted me a copy of Big Magic. Let me tell you, it is life-altering.

Why It Made My List: An in-depth extension of Big Magic, Magic Lessons provides massive amounts of inspiration for an aspiring creator like myself. Her advice to other writers on how to find your passion and make it matter are incomparable. I’m going to keep listening and see how much I can learn about myself and my craft. TC mark

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