Happiness podcasts graphic
Podcast listening continues to skyrocket, as we’ve all needed something to stay entertained and motivated through a turbulent year. Gritty true crime shows and eye-opening educational listens keeps us enthralled, while mental health-centric series are helping people cope with unprecedented stress.
We don’t have to tell you just how difficult staying upbeat through it all can be—it’s why we enlisted author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin to answer reader questions on the topic. It’s also why the subgenre of podcasts that deal with positivity, creativity, and healthy mental and physical habits, is booming right now.
Some of these happiness podcasts, like The Science of Happiness and The Gratitude Diaries, teach listeners how to find cheer. Others, like Questlove Supreme and Unqualified, feature hopeful and nourishing interviews, and pods like Who? Weekly offer playful banter that makes fans feel like they’re surrounded by friends.
Whether you’re looking to understand the mental health benefits of minimalist living, the best ways to overcome cognitive roadblocks, or simply to have a hearty laugh and forget about your troubles, one of these happiness podcasts will hopefully help you on your journey to seeking joy.
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The Science of Happiness Podcast
Some podcasts about living a better, cheerier life are anecdotal, but The Science of Happiness has the facts. Hosted by Dacher Keltner, founder of the University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the show explores topics like the value of outdoor time, connecting with your elders, and silencing your inner critic.
In addition to writing books, Gretchen Rubin hosts Happier, which is an essential listen for those chasing a brighter outlook on life. Recent episodes have covered avoiding disappointment, the importance of friendly gestures, and how to trigger happy memories.
The Kindness Podcast
On the show, journalist Nicole Phillips speaks to all kinds of noteworthy figures about the transformative powers of empathy and compassion. Over 100-plus episodes, Phillips has chatted with An Invisible Thread author Laura Schroff, multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, and the minds behind Minnesota’s Fix It Forward Ministry, which helps give cars to those in need.
Comedians Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata are riotously funny by themselves, so it makes sense that Best Friends, their joint pod, is a complete crack-up. The show has the loose, observational feel of a great standup set, with the hosts musing on everything from alien abductions to gigantic ladybugs to tattoos.
If this sounds as freewheeling and gleefully weird as your late-night chats with a close pal, it’s because it is. If extended quarantine has you feeling particularly isolated, Best Friends is a great remedy.
Ten Percent Happier
Inspired by a panic attack he suffered while hosting Good Morning America, Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier is a comprehensive look at the myriad of factors that can get in the way of our joy and what to do about them. Harris brings in experts like Jenny Odell to discuss the psychological value of “doing nothing,” Annie Grace to talk frankly about battling addiction, and Adam Grant to muse on why it’s okay to get things wrong.
Ten Percent also places a heavy emphasis on meditation, with regular weekly sessions guided by professionals appearing on the podcast feed.
Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn’s podcast focuses on the positive mental health impact of things like unfollowing superfluous social media accounts, helping your children get organized, and celebrating holidays without excessive consumerism.
The Lively Show
The bubbly Jess Lively hosts this informative, motivational podcast, which focuses on the importance of a positive mindset for both personal and professional success. Roadblocks like negative feedback loops and fear of mortality are addressed in episodes, as are useful tools like proper breathing techniques, and tips on living an “aligned” life.
With hilarious hosts Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber, each pop culture-centric episode focuses on a handful of stars and their exploits, offering funny (and often incisive) commentary on celebrity gossip. If your definition of happiness is gabbing about Page Six with your friends, this one is for you.
Live Happy Now
The folks at Live Happy magazine have made your wellbeing their business, and their self-titled podcast offers deep dives into the minutiae of feeling good. Lively, informative interviews are conducted with experts on topics like mindful eating, stress management, and the dangers of toxic positivity.
The show focuses on pop cultural depictions of mental health, with the charming and irreverent Sandy Allen playing host. Alongside guests like Hannah Giorgis and Jonah Bossewitch, they’ve explored the way beloved properties like Donnie Darko and BoJack Horseman address psychological conditions like depression and anxiety.
It can be hard to brush off the little mistakes we make throughout the day, but it’s important to remember that rarely do they reach historical proportions. That’s what Mark Chrisler’s The Constant covers—misconceptions, errors, and plans gone awry that have shaped history. Topics include the use of medicinal gold, cannibalism, and the flat Earth conspiracy.
The Gratitude Diaries
Inspired by her book of the same name, The Gratitude Diaries sees author Janice Kaplan share secrets of living more intentionally and gratefully. Episodes are short, rarely clocking in at more than seven minutes, making the show quite easy to fit into your daily routine.
Kaplan is a warm host, and translates her authoritative, fact-filled writing on the topic to the podcast medium masterfully.
Amir “Questlove” Thompson has been a bandleader, producer, director, and a podcast host since 2016. Questlove Supreme allows him to indulge his wide range of interests. The show features world class singers (Mariah Carey), actors (Jason Sudeikis), and creators (Lin-Manuel Miranda) all diving deep into their process in intimate interviews.
Questlove Supreme is the kind of upbeat educational podcast that will have you rekindling a dormant artistic passion after a few episodes.
Morgan Givens is the kind of storyteller who can build worlds with just a few well-crafted sentences. Fitting then that his podcast, Flyest Fables, is one of the most immersive narrative shows out there. Described as “hopepunk,” the writing style that emphasizes optimism and uplifting readers, Flyest Fables is an adventure saga about a kid named Antoine and his journey into the magical world of Princess Keisha.
For anyone who grew up loving family-friendly fantasy novels and wants an antidote to all the dour stories out there, Flyest Fables will help you tap into your inner kid.
All in the Mind
This Australian show explores all corners of the mind, covering the connection between music and memory, disassociation, and synesthesia, among countless other topics. The keys to happiness and a positive mental outlook are explored in episodes that touch on resilience, weathering grief, and the positive effects of art on the brain.
Nothing Much Happens
The connection between a healthy sleep schedule and a happier life is well documented, but getting the necessary amount of rest can still be difficult for many overworked, stressed out folks. Kathryn Nicolai is working to create a salve for sleep-deprived adults with Nothing Much Happens, a show that features relaxing stories that help put the mind at ease and prepare you to catch some quality Zs.
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