During a year that has turned us all into self-help aficionados of some form or another, millions now turn to podcasts for their daily dose of inspiration, empathy and/or wisdom. This week on a listen-to-get-better edition of Wherever You Get Your Podcasts, you’ll hear about how to cultivate hope scientifically, set goals that are too small to fail, meditate quickly and kick your smartphone addiction … after you finish reading this newsletter of course.
Sean Braswell, Head of Audio
pod of the week
Overcoming the Unthinkable
“Auschwitz was an opportunity,” claims Dr. Edith Eger, a 93-year-old clinician and Holocaust survivor. “I call everything an opportunity.” Eger was just 16 years old when the Nazis invaded Hungary and imprisoned her family at the death camp in Poland. There, as she tells Nora McInerny in Terrible, Thanks for Asking, she was forced to dance before Nazi doctor Josef Mengele not long after he sent her parents to the gas chamber. Found by Allied soldiers beneath a pile of dead bodies, she survived and thrived, eventually moving to America, joining the NAACP, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King and paying the wisdom of her remarkable life forward.
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Curious about how best to chart a more balanced work-life experience in which you get more sleep, work more productively and thrive? On a recent episode of On Purpose With Jay Shetty, Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington argues that the coronavirus crisis provides individuals and workforces with an unprecedented opportunity to address mental health and burnout issues if only they take the time — sometimes just 60 seconds is enough — to pay attention. She also has some useful tips for building “micro-habits” that will allow you to address your smartphone addiction and more.
2. Making Mindfulness and Meditation More Accessible
Andy Puddicombe grew up in London, but after a horrific car crash involving a drunk driver as a young man, he moved to Asia to become a monk to help cope with the trauma. He’s now the co-founder of Headspace, the mindfulness and meditation app. The former Buddhist monk joined a recent episode of The Carlos Watson Show to talk about how he began his journey and his new television venture with Netflix. Stay tuned for the one-minute meditation session at the end.
Dr. Jacqueline Mattis, a clinical psychologist from Rutgers University, grew up in a devout Jamaican American household that prized faith and service, and that sparked her interest in the role that religiosity and spirituality play in fostering hope. On a recent episode of Ten Percent Happier With Dan Harris, she explains how to cultivate hope as a skill, and the need to balance an appreciation for the sacred with the ebbs and flows of a terrestrial existence. “Hope is rooted in data,” says Mattis. “It’s not fantasy.”
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Dr. Atul Gawande has worn many hats in his life: He is a medical doctor, a surgeon and a bestselling author, and he has advised presidents, including on the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent episode of When Katty Met Carlos, the BBC’s Katty Kay and OZY’s Carlos Watson discuss a wide range of issues with Dr. Gawande, including how we should face up to death and dying, and how we should speak to our loved ones about it.
2. Call It Impulsive, Call It Compulsive, Call It Insane …
“Because I’m lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did.” Barenaked Ladies co-frontman Steven Page wrote those lyrics after discovering an odd fascination for the troubled Beach Boys singer — years before he himself was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Eventually, as he explains to John Moe in a frank conversation on The Hilarious World of Depression, the Canadian musician found himself unable to get out of bed, waging a battle against a condition that had plagued him for decades but had gone undiagnosed.
3. Want to Delete Depression From Your Brain?
If you’ve ever suffered a broken heart, you know that desperate desire to end the mental anguish, no matter the cost. A broken heart is temporary but suffering a mental illness is often chronic, and the desire to delete that part of the brain can be persistent and overwhelming. It’s not possible yet, but, as some neurotechnology experts reveal in an intriguing episode of The Future of X: Health, one day we could have a neural implant inside our brains that can anticipate, and eliminate, our depression symptoms before they set in.
Norman Vincent Peale on the Power of Beethoven’s Positive Thinking
Best known for his book The Power of Positive Thinking (and more recently for his influence on Donald Trump), 1950s self-help guru Norman Vincent Peale actually got his start on the radio. He returned to it periodically, including in this short hope-filled episode of his Live With Confidence radio series, in which he uses the story of composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s battle with deafness and despondency to encourage listeners that they too “can rise above your discouragement."
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The centerpiece of Spotify’s growing expansion from tech into media and podcasts was the multimillion-dollar exclusive deal the company signed with microphone titan Joe Rogan last year. And as Rogan continues to draw heat, including from White House officials, for his recent anti-vaccine comments, Spotify is keeping a safe but supportive distance from its controversial moneymaker. “[F]or the time being,” as Lucas Shaw argues in Bloomberg, “Spotify is very happy with Joe Rogan, whether you like it or not.”
2. The Growing Market for Audio Snippets
They’re called “microcasts” — brief, digestible audio shows that a listener can consume on a single topic in a few minutes — and they are taking the audio landscape by micro-storm in much the same way TikTok did for video. Need a short distillation of an already brief explainer? Try brushing your teeth to Vox Quick Hits, a single RSS feed with short bites from Vox podcasts like Today, Explained.
3. Demystifying Classical Music Composition
Classical music was a bit late to the podcasting game, says Joshua Barone in the New York Times, but it has been playing some capable catch-up of late. Case in point: Mission: Commission, a new podcast presented by the Miller Theater at Columbia University, allows listeners to follow three different composers over a six-week period as they create short compositions that will premiere later this month.
friend of the pod
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