One of the definitions of the word inspiration in Mirriam-Webster is “the act of drawing in”. I really like this, because it reminds me of the importance for each of us of intentionally finding goodness in this world and paying attention to it—of “drawing it in” and using it as a source of energy to get us through our day.
To be sure, these days we all face a near constant onslaught of difficult news, notifications from our phones and social media, political upheaval, and general stressors just as we go through our regular lives. It is important that we take the time to “draw in” things that make us feel good, hopeful, and that help us maintain perspective.
People can find inspiration in many ways, such as being in nature, going for a walk or hike, volunteering time to help someone, setting a challenge for themselves and meeting it, or engaging with one’s spiritual community.
One thing I like a lot is story-telling, particularly if it is funny, thought provoking, or inspirational. I have greatly enjoyed the explosion of podcasts in the past few years, and truly appreciate the availability of content on almost anything I would like to learn more about.
On this page I am sharing some of the series (and episodes) that I have found particularly inspiring and interesting. I hope you enjoy.
It interests me that many people take better care of their cars than themselves—they seem to understand that if they neglected their cars, put soda in the gas tank and replaced their engine oil with vegetable oil, if they parked it in the middle of a busy street or left their windows open in a rainstorm, ultimately, their car would break down past the point of functioning.
Why then do people treat themselves, and their bodies, so poorly? This is a complex question with no easy answers. I simply encourage you to pay attention to what you are “drawing in” each day. Is it toxic or is it inspirational? Try to make choices that make you feel better, happier, and more fulfilled, and that allow your world to grow and evolve rather than contract.
The Good Life Project is a fantastic podcast with a library of over 500 interviews. The interviews tend to feature individuals who have made some contribution to the world through pushing back against or questioning social conventions, and taking risks. I have particularly enjoyed listening to ways that individuals have gone through major trials in their lives and been able to use these trials to motivate them to make a difference in the lives of others. This is just a sampling—I don’t really have any rhyme or reason to my recommendations. Sometimes, I listen to something and it just doesn’t catch my fancy. But it is a high quality podcast, so enjoy!
Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the popular book “Eat Pray Love”, is featured in this interview where she talks about living a curious and creative life. I had not actually ever given her much attention before listening to this interview—it was a really worthwhile use of my time.
Jim Kwik talks here about his experience as a child who grew up with a brain injury, and struggled with reading and the basics of learning throughout his schooling. The experience devastated his confidence and belief in himself. Only once in college did he finally, after a deep depressive episode, discover tools that transformed his ability to learn more efficiently. Since then, he has made it his mission to make these tools available to people facing similar barriers as he did in childhood.
Garrard Conley, author of “Boy Erased”, is interviewed here about his experience with Conversion Therapy, and life afterwards. I really liked this interview a lot. For having gone through such a difficult experience, he remains connected to and compassionate towards his parents, but keeps it true and real.
Ear Hustle may be one of my favorite podcasts ever. It is not really therapeutic but it is inspiring, and it is very, very funny at times. Don’t know about it? It is a podcast told (initially) from inside the walls of a California prison, as a collaborative effort between a volunteer and an inmate.
Goop is a podcast series hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow and Elise Loehnen. Probably due to her star power, Gwyneth seems to have attracted many big names to her show. I particularly enjoyed the following:
This interview with shame researcher Brene Brown made me a convert. I really enjoyed listening to her and found a lot of what she said to be incredibly wise and spot on. From the interview: “Where perfectionism is driving, your shame is riding shotgun,” says Brown.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking is this awesome podcast I stumbled across that is also focused on the art of story telling. The guests are less famous but equally interesting, and the host is really good at what she does. The episodes have entertaining titles such as “Happy Friggin’ Mother’s Day”, and of course there is the title of the podcast itself. The show seems to be interested in truth, with a little cheerful snark thrown in to the mix. The offerings are such a hodgepodge that I think you can just help yourself and find something that interests you.
Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? is a brilliant podcast that features edited down couple’s therapy sessions. These are real sessions facilitated by a master therapist. The sessions were more like intensive 3 hour consultations, and presumably a lot is edited out, so the listener is treated to about 45 minutes of what it sounds like when couple’s therapy is done right.