Whether you want to break up with diet culture, make smarter dating decisions, or become a better ally.

By Rachael Schultz
Jun 22, 2020 @ 5:21 pm
Advertisement
Credit: Getty Images

If Netflix is for escaping and social media is now for educating, podcasts are definitely for inspiring. By sharing the stories of real people dealing with real problems — and ending each episode with messages on real ways to deal — podcasts are delivering some of the most motivational messaging out in the world today.

And we need that right now. The reality is, we’re all struggling. It might be with something really tangible: how to manage money better so you can quit the job you hate, how to ditch emotional eating. But chances are, you’re grappling with bigger concepts that don’t have cut-and-dry answers: how to take better care of your emotional self, how to be a better ally to people of color. 

Whatever part of your life you’re wanting to improve at this moment, there’s a podcast to make it feel a little more do-able. And most of them deliver advice from people who seriously know what they’re talking about — anti-racism educator Layla F. Saad; vegan, athlete, cult-icon Rich Roll; the darling of all-things-feelings, Brené Brown.

Podcasts offer the chance to gain serious knowledge — and serious inspiration — in less than an hour of your life. Here’s 18 of the best motivational podcasts to plant the seeds of change.

For Better Social Consciousness

Good Ancestor Podcast

If you’re craving productive, intelligent, insightful conversations on not only the depth of damage in America, but also how we can nurture the fertile ground for the future, this is it. In Good Ancestor Podcast, the brilliant anti-racism educator and best-selling author Layla F. Saad hosts soul-touching talks with mostly women of color on racism, equality, inclusion, justice, feminism, and, the root of it all, the legacy we leave. She’ll definitely make you cry — but that’s because her words hit in that way we’ve been searching for.

Food 4 Thot 

Besides having maybe the best name in all of podcast history, Food 4 Thot is also super insightful and hilarious. The hosts are a group of multiracial queer writers who talk all things sex, relationships, race, identity, politics, culture, and history in a way that can’t help but make you feel more proud and secure to be exactly who you are—and to be better than you are.

For Better Mental Health

Unlocking Us

It will shock no one that Brené Brown’s just-dropped podcast is a wealth of motivation — or that people are already obsessed. The vulnerability researcher brings us her hallmark thoughts and musings on the complicated work of truly connecting with ourselves and others. Some episodes are solo, but some are delightful surprises, like conversations with Laverne Cox, Ibram X. Kendi, and Reese Witherspoon.

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

The OG queen of self-love and self-reflection, Oprah delivers endless insight onto us, her enlightenment-hungry entourage. Every episode of SuperSoul Conversations features an interview with the most progressive and insightful darlings of the day, including lady boss Sheryl Sandberg, spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle, and fellow queen-of-life Michelle Obama.

Therapy for Black Girls

When Atlanta-based psychologist Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. launched this show back in 2017, she was filling a huge, much-needed hole: a safe place for Black women in America to learn about and prioritize their own mental health and experiences. With Therapy for Black Girls, Dr. Bradford demystifies everything from mindfulness, to sexual trauma, to the stress of being a Black business owner in such a simple and approachable way.

The One You Feed 

It sounds simple, but learning to put feelings into words is sometimes the foundational key to unlocking literally everything that is holding you back. This show features intellectual guests delivering thought-provoking talks on habits, meditation, wisdom, depression, anxiety, happiness, psychology. The One You Feed will get you thinking about how you think — and how you could think better.

For a Better Love Life

Why Won’t You Date Me?

If you need a little push toward being a-okay with your fabulous, single self, listen to Nicole Byer. The comedian and actress brings fellow comedians, friends, celebs, and occasionally ex-flings on the show and asks them the same questions we’re constantly asking ourselves and our friends: why am I still single? There’s nothing we love more than a loud, self-deprecating, hilarious girlfriend who is all about shooting it straight.

Modern Love

The only thing better than reading real people’s love stories in the beloved New York Times Modern Love column is hearing said stories read aloud by your fave celebrities. After all, if we're going to talk tales of heartbreak, soulmate searches, loneliness reckonings, and hope for loving again, we'd prefer to hear it from Hasan Minaj's voice. Wouldn't you?

For Living Healthier

Food, We Need to Talk

Trying to break up with diet culture? Download this podcast and load up on advice from hosts Juna Gjata, who shares her own struggles with body image and food, and Dr. Eddie Phillips, who delivers super approachable, science-based evidence on why nutrition and eating are more about common sense than complicated science. 

Almost30

Like any true besties, hosts Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik are here to help pull you out of that tired-of-adulting funk—with the romantic cynicisms true to the LA girls they are. On Almost30, the duo covers mental health, relationships, careers, and all the life transitions that are all too familiar to 20- and 30-somethings feeling a little lost.

Hurdle 

On Hurdle, journalist and former fitness editor Emily Abbate talks to podium-placing athletes and wellness entrepreneurs like Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings and author Gabby Bernstein about — you guessed it — the biggest hurdles they’ve had to overcome on their journey to success.

Black Girl in Om 

A rare voice of color in the wellness podcast space, Lauren Ash delivers self-care, self-love, sexual desire, mindfulness, and all things wellness with a fabulous line-up of guests across the board. Ash has created a seriously-soothing community and atmosphere through Black Girl in Om. Even just a few minutes of listening will leave you as relaxed as a yoga class.

The Rich Roll Podcast

It’s not often we optionally tune in to hear a 50-year-old white man speak. But Rich Roll, a former attorney, now vegan, ultra-endurance athlete — and overall cult sensation — serves some serious deep dives into how we can better unlock the potential within. His interview style is unparalleled, his guests are A-list thinkers across every discipline, and his takeaways truly speak down into the depths of what might be holding us back.

Gettin’ Grown

There’s no rose-colored glass on what you can expect navigating adulthood here. But there are jokes on jokes. Gettin' Grown Hosts Jade and Keia (who, btw, has a Ph.D.) dish on the very real peaks and valleys of being smart, independent 30-something Black women. Alongside serving refreshing truths, their hilarity on every topic from politics to pop culture to self-care makes it all feel less daunting.

For Living Smarter 

How to Survive the End of the World 

The world feels pretty apocalyptic these days. But despite the name of this pod, the Brown sisters aren’t offering a guide to surviving the frustration and injustices of our world — they’re offering a smarter, macro vision for how to move forward. The heart of this show is a roadmap to transform our world, our communities, our relationships, and our inner selves. For people of color, it’s putting a voice to feelings and hearing reassurance that there is hope for change. For white people, it’s an enriching opportunity to listen.

Life Kit 

How to prioritize self-care, educate your racist family, sleep better at night, or talk to kids about death — just like the name suggests, Life Kit delivers advice on pretty much everything you’ll ever need advice on to live a better life. In typical NPR fashion, each episode is well-reported and to-the-point — and each clocks in at an uber-digestible 20 minutes.

How I Built This 

For those of us with secret dreams to turn our little side hustles into, you know, multi-million dollar empires, HIBT is the road map to believing it could actually happen. Founders of companies from Outdoor Voices to FitBit share their life story — roses, thorns, and all — helping you realize every venture is truly built one step at a time.

The Redefining Wealth Podcast

Whether you’re struggling to build the luxe life you want or trying to figure out what happiness even is, this pod is all about altering your definition of true wealth. Award-winning personal finance author Patrice Washington interviews her guests like friends and imparts wisdom on how to build a rich life without focusing on your bank account.