The world can be a scary place. Flipping through News Channels shows us nothing but bad news, and now, more than ever, it seems that there is always something new to worry about. Whether it’s the decline of the economy, a worldwide pandemic, or the news of yet another politician serving anyone else but the people, there is A LOT to get us down. And don’t get me wrong. These are all very real, very serious issues we are all facing, but sometimes, we just need something to lift that heavy feeling and remind us that there is some good left in the world. And when we need a little bit of upliftment, we turn to podcasts. We have a stash of our favorite feel-good shows stored on our podcast apps of choice to boost our spirits, brighten our days, and just give us a little bit of joy amongst all the bad that exists in the world. And we’re sharing some of our top picks with you today! Because let’s face it, joy is always better when shared!
So prepare to have your spirits lifted with these top podcasts guranteed to make you feel good! Let’s dive right in!
1. Modern Love
Modern Love is our first pick for one of our top feel-good listens. This podcast features beautiful, poignant, moving personal essays from people from all over, read by well-known names and voices. Now, I will be the first to admit that this is not your typical “feel good” podcast. Rather, the true stories of love, loss, and ultimately, redemption, featured on Modern Love provide an almost cathartic experience, which moves your soul, and leaves it feeling better than it did before. This podcast is a collaboration between WBUR and The New York Times and is a beautifully-crafted audio production. The stories that were featured are all incredibly well-written and performed to perfection by some of our most beloved names of stage and screen. Think Daniel Radcliffe, Saoirse Ronan, and Ali Fazal, and so many other amazing performers who breathe life into these moving essays. The writers themselves also often feature on the episodes, and it’s truly great to get to hear from the voices behind the stories. So while this podcast is certainly not an outright “feel-good” show, it will leave your soul feeling warmed and your heart moved.
And now for some more good news! The Modern Love podcast is relaunching! This time around, it features new hosts, Daniel Jones, the editor and creator of Modern Love, and Miya Lee, editor of Tiny Love Stories and Modern Love projects. This new season will share their favorite stories from the column’s vast archive, conversations with the authors, as well as a few surprises.
2. Finding Fred
Mister Fred Rogers is considered by many to be a national treasure, and as host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood from 1968 all the way up until 2001, he was a staple character in the childhoods of a vast amount of people. And as Mister Rogers was arguably the king of making us feel good, Finding Fred is our next pick for one of our top “feel-good favorites”. But this podcast is not a simple exaltation of Mister Roger’s way with words and dealing with emotion. This podcast shows us that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was not a simple show. And Fred Rogers was not a simple man. He was radical, he was spiritual, and he was revolutionary. Bestselling author and cultural critic Carvell Wallace hosts this 10-part series about the life, thinking, and work of Fred Rogers, and asks what the cardigan-wearing host of a decades-old children’s show can tell us about how to get by in today’s chaotic world. This show is so carefully and thoughtfully put together! It’s open and honest, and really brings home the power of empathy. It is feel-good through and through, but you’ll also learn so much! And if you grew up watching his show, or you’ve seen the biopic A Lovely Day in The Neighborhood starring another national treasure, Mr. Tom Hanks, then Finding Fred is a must-listen. But even if you’ve never heard of Mister Rogers, and don’t know why he wants you to be his neighbor, you should give this gem a listen!
3. Happier With Gretchen Ruben
What could be better in these scary times than a podcast focused on learning to be happier? Happier with Gretchen not only sounds super cheerful, but it’s focused on helping us lead happier lives. Gretchen and her sister and co-host, Elizabeth Craft, show us that we can, indeed, cultivate happiness in our lives without depending on outside entities to do it for us. They give practical strategies to help develop good habits – like talking more kindly about ourselves and banishing all that inner criticism – and all the other tactics we can employ to live happier and be more at peace with ourselves. The show is thought-provoking, insightful, and you’ll always come away feeling really good after every listen. The intimate dynamic of a conversation between sisters also adds a special element to each episode, giving us a variety of perspectives on their fascinating and well-researched topics. So if you’re needing a little serotonin boost and more joy right about now, then you should definitely give Happier a try.
4. This Is Love
This Is Love is another of the perhaps “not-so-typical” feel-good podcasts, but it will leave you feeling good. This Is Love comes to us from the makers of the award-winning podcast Criminal, but this show investigates life’s most persistent mystery – love in all it’s vast and varied shapes and forms. There are stories of sacrifice, obsession, and the ways in which we bet everything on each other. There are incredible stories of daring feats, of heroic animals, and stories of encounters with majestic creatures. You’ll be surprised, intrigued, mesmerized, and moved. The host, the wonderful Phoebe Judge, expertly narrates and guides the stories, and the honest, no-frills style of storytelling will leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged. This Is Love is simply a joy to listen to and a definite “go-to” whenever you feel a little melancholy or have a serious case of the blues.
If you love RomComs, chances are high that you’ll love RomComPods. This is an episodic fiction podcast with a new installment coming out once a week. This first season follows jilted Claire as her long-term relationship unravels…days before her wedding! Unable to cancel her honeymoon Lovers Tour to Italy, Claire is forced to go alone and is lumped with a whole group of happy couples. A whole host of wonderful Rom-Com tropes ensue, and you’ll find yourself hooked after the first episode. It’s an excellent audio production, with all the quirky characters we love in a good romantic comedy. It’s got the right amount of cheese (both figurative and literal, they are traipsing around Italy after all!) and will just leave you with a stupid grin on your face throughout the listen. There are one or two “steamy” scenes, so perhaps not suitable for younger listeners, but overall, RomComPods is a light-hearted listen, full of fun, easy writing, and the perfect escape when you need a break from the real world.
RomComPods is back for Season 2, entitled “Vote for Love” which promises to be yet another “feel-good” show we need to have in our podcast library!
6. Kind World
I don’t think you get more “feel-good” than hearing about all the kind people doing so much good in the world. The producers of the podcast Kind World feel exactly the same, and that’s why they’ve made it their mission to share some of the most touching, most kind stories with their listeners. Kind World is all about how a single act of kindness can change someone’s life. The stories are uplifting, inspiring, and just the kind boost we so often need. The incredible, ordinary people featured in these episodes will, without a doubt, help restore your faith in humanity, and are proof that some good news can do the world of good. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, WBUR laid off a large number of staff members, and Kind World was sadly one of the casualties. But the good news is that having run for seven years, there is still an incredible amount of wonderful kind stories for you to listen to. Add Kind World to your “Feel-Good Favorites” and let all the kindness lift your spirits and inspire you to pass a little kindness along.
7. Great Big Story
Another of our “Feel-Good Favs” is Great Big Story, a wonderful podcast about the delightful, the surprising, and the untold true stories all around us. A fairly new podcast, the episodes are an audio delight and contain some fascinating and intriguing true tales that will completely draw you in and give you your feel-good fix. One of my personal favorite episodes to date has got to be “Mrs. Comet and the Man on the Moon.” While it is a little bittersweet, it’s still got all that “feel-good goodness” and will give you those heartwarming feels that come from a beautiful story told well. (You’ll also never look at the moon the same again! Intrigued? Go check the episode out here!) And another great episode was “The Chalk Apocalypse.” Besides the intriguing title, it just made me grin from ear to ear as I listened. (Check out that episode here.) This podcast is the perfect antidote to chase away the negatives and will show you just how to look at the positives, even in difficult or trying situations.
8. The Happiness Lab
Oftentimes, we think we know what would make us happier. If social media is anything to go by, it would have us believe that more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations are the hallmarks of a happy life. But Yale professor and host of The Happiness Lab podcast, Dr. Laurie Santos, wants us to know that couldn’t be further from the truth! Dr. Santos has studied the science of happiness and found that many of us do the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale – the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history, which is super impressive! – Laurie will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness. This podcast is full of actionable advice, sound knowledge, and on top of that, will leave you feeling uplifted. We all want a happier, kinder world, but that world starts with happier, kinder individuals. Give this show a listen, and we will be one step closer to that goal.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or caught up in all the negative that so often surrounds us, give these feel-good podcasts a listen. Whether you need a little RomCom escapism, you want actionable steps to lead a happier life, or you simply want a reminder that there is a whole of good still in the world, these outstanding shows have all this and then some! They’ll give you that serotonin boost you’re looking for, but they will also inspire you to look for the positives, to be kinder to your neighbor, and be the change that you want to see in the world. With these feel-good podcasts in your corner, your spirits will be lifted, and you’ll be ready to face the challenges of life once again.