Are you listening to any happiness podcasts at the moment? Learning and improvement around well-being and happiness has until recently been mainly confined to reading self-help books or viewing online videos.
But the power of podcasts now means we don’t need to have to focus on watching or reading, instead we can joyfully and simply listen. This advantage means that happiness podcasts are perfect for traveling, commuting or just when you’re out and about walking.
Tuning into a happiness podcast is a great new way to learn more about well-being and can also be a fantastic way to boost your happiness if you’re having an off day. The benefits of this new medium mean that podcasts are rising in popularity fast. But don't just take our word for it. Indeed, podcasts as a medium are popping right now. Around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to one each week: an increase of 24 per cent over the past year. And in the US, nearly one out of three people listen to at least one podcast every month.
With such a boom, the overwhelming number of happiness and well-being podcasts out there to choose from could trigger anxiety in some of us! So, we’ve done the hard work and rounded up the best happiness podcasts so you don’t have to search for them. Here are eight podcasts in the areas of positive psychology, happiness and self-help that will lift your day and help you learn to be a happier and more rounded human being.
If you’re like us at happiness.com and put emphasis on understanding the science behind happiness, then the podcast The Science of Happiness is a great listen. A fortnightly happiness podcast from our collaborators over at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, as the title suggests, it places importance on science-based insights for a meaningful life.
In each bite-sized episode (around 20 minutes), the podcast features so-called ‘happiness guinea pigs’ trying out study-backed strategies for a happier, more meaningful life. The guinea pigs test the tips for happiness by making practical changes to their lives and daily routines and then report back on the effects (usually with positive results).
Recent popular episodes include ‘making happiness contagious’, ‘facing your fears’ and a fascinating chat with stand-up comedian Margaret Cho who shares some insights into her thoughts around gratitude and time.
One of the first podcast converts and also one of the most popular, Happier with Gretchin Rubin features the influential and best-selling author of The Happiness Project discussing human life and encouraging her sister – a noted skeptic – to put her well-being tips into practice.
The pair’s breezy and humorous nature makes their podcast chats easy to listen to and Happier with Gretchin Rubin covers subjects such as building good habits, improving relationships and developing a happier life. Gretchen draws from her personal wisdom and experiences as well as science to examine how humans can live their lives with greater happiness, creativity and productivity.
Rubin has won awards for this cast, proof indeed that it’s one of the best happiness podcasts around today.
Usually running for between one and two hours (or more), the majority of Nithya Shanti’s Spreading Happiness podcasts are long-players that deserve your full attention.
Shanti quit a corporate career in India to pursue his inner calling to be a Buddhist monk. Since then, his experience has led him to share his learnings through so-called “joyful gatherings” across the world. His irregular Spreading Happiness podcast series is a great opportunity to benefit from the best of Shanti’s teachings as it’s a compilation of these global gatherings: elegant teachings on conscious living, and a mix guided meditations, inspiration, wisdom, and story telling.
“Tuning into a happiness podcast is a great way to learn more about well-being and can be a fantastic way to boost happiness if you're having an off day.”
Recent podcast highlights include 'The Beauty of Agendalessness', 'Power of Presence' and 'Happiness Habits'. Sound quality isn’t always optimal, but you can really feel Shanti’s infectious smile and spiritual strength coming through in his words, making for a wonderful listen.
Another stalwart of the happiness podcast scene is Dan Harris, the presenter who experienced a panic attack live on-air while hosting Good Morning America on TV.
It was that experience that led Harris to meditation in a quest to improve his metal health. Meditation worked him so well that he went on to pen a best-selling book 10% Happier, which led to the development of this podcast.
Similarly to his book, Harris’ weekly podcast has a frank and no-BS view towards presenting meditation. Featuring in-depth interviews with mindfulness and meditation major players (the Dalai Lama has even put in appearance), as well as neuroscientists and psychologists, 10% Happier explores meditation techniques and tips on how to train the mind.
New episodes are available every Tuesday morning and run up to 60 minutes.
Action for Happiness is a small charitable initiative working to inspire practical action for a happier and more caring society. Presenter Gui Hung fronts the Action For Happiness podcast which features of a variety of guests within the well-being world: happiness authors, scientists and presenters.
Borrowing heavily from James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke sketches, Hung’s Carpool Podcast feature with mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn recently being featured in the passenger seat to talk about the future of mindfulness.
Another reason Action for Happiness makes our best happiness podcasts list is that as well as being able to listen to the audio, you can also watch videos of the experts being interviewed (which works especially well with the Carpool Podcasts!).
He’s the biggest drag star in the world and a multi Emmy-award winner for his presenting/producing work on hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race, but RuPaul also has a strong interest in spirituality, happiness and self-improvement, that he often discusses with his podcast guests.
Usually featuring people from the world of showbiz, What’s the Tee? focuses the chat on their careers, but RuPaul often opens the conversation up to their spiritual and well-being practices, giving a unique insight into the personal lives of these celebrity guests which you can’t find elsewhere easily.
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As well as winning happiness points for its discussion around happiness and making the world a better place, What’s the Tee? is also just LOL funny (and often NSFW). RuPaul’s contagious cackle is reason enough to listen and feel instant happiness. In fact it’s my go-to podcast when I need a pick-me-up, and for that reason alone it makes our list of the best happiness podcasts.
The makers of the Good Life Project podcast are on a mission to inspire possibility and connection! Jonathan and Stephanie Fields are the hosts of this podcast which airs twice-weekly.
The pair host inspirational and intimate discussions about living life to the fullest and living with meaning with a wide range of guests: from world-shakers such as authors Augusten Borroughs and Seth Godin, musician Liz Phair, professor Brené Brown, as well as everyday guests.
Jonathan is a particularly great interviewer with a calm and very listenable voice. Being one of the best happiness podcasts out there, The Good Life Project currently has a back catalogue of over 300 episodes to listen to, usually running for around 45 minutes (which makes them perfect for commutes).
Last but by no means least, this great podcast from the editors of Live Happy magazine features ideas and research on how to develop a happier and more meaningful life. Live Happy Now includes interviews with top positive psychology professionals, well-being leaders and celebrities.
The podcasts reflect many of the science-based subjects we discuss in our happiness magazine, with recent podcasts including: ’Embracing slowness’, ‘The importance of self-forgiveness’, ‘Making good habits stick’, ‘Living longer' and 'Happier through kindness'.
The tone of this happiness podcast is friendly and light and episodes are digestible at around 30-40 minutes. There are over 200 episodes online to listen to and you can explore the podcasts by categories such as happiness, work, inspiration and science. ●
Have you already enjoyed some of these happiness podcasts? We'd love to know which are your favourites and the difference they have made in your life! Share in the comments below!
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