Optimal Living Daily: The Best of Personal Development
I discovered Optimal Living Daily through…Optimal Living Daily. The creator tweeted me and mentioned I might like the content based on some of the content I’d been sharing on my own Twitter feed. I’ll admit that my gut reaction was negative. It wasn’t that the creator tweeted at me in an offensive manner; it was just that I’d been overwhelmed by too many podcasts in the past, and I was worried about adding anything on (at the time, I was only subscribed to one).
It turns out, the podcast is immensely valuable to me, and I’m thrilled I ignored that initial reaction and checked out the content. The creator, Justin, searches through the catacombs that is the internet, picking out awesome blog content from authors like Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus, Leo Babauta, Steve Pavlina, and many more. The content is always centered on personal development, exploring issues like finances, health, minimalism, and general self-care.
In fact, one of the reasons Justin’s podcast, OLD, sticks out to me as special is because he is honest about his own anxiety. He views the podcast as an opportunity to improve the lives of his listeners along with his own. He’s fighting his own battles at the same time he’s helping us fight ours.
The podcast has aired over fifty episodes, and each one is generally short enough that it can be listened to on a quick walk from point A to point B. I often save up two or three, listening to them on the way to work once or twice a week. If I’m looking for my daily dose of the OLD podcast, I can listen to an episode while I walk across the university campus. Even when the topic sounds like one I wouldn’t be interested in, I always seem to find some small nugget of value. I have not regretted spending my time listening to an episode yet.
The Minimalists Podcast
I’ve been following The Minimalists for a couple of years now, so I hopped on board quickly when I learned they’re dedicating 2016, in part, to cultivating a podcast. These two guys have never written or produced any content that I didn’t find some value in, so I felt like the podcast would be far from a waste of my time. And I was right.
Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn are radicals: they’re all about decreasing the distractions, consumerism, and unhealthy relationships that get in the way of a life of intention, meaningful interactions, and value. Wild, right? The honest truth is that it’s not that wild. It only seems wild because of the world we live and the ideology we’ve been raised with in general. Obviously, exceptions apply, and the more this message gets out there, the more exceptions there are to go around.
The Minimalists Podcast is the first podcast I added back into my life after a podcast sabbatical. After becoming overwhelmed with podcasts in the past, I eventually just shut them all off. Unfortunately, this meant chucking the podcasts of value and the podcasts that weren’t adding value—in hindsight, I should have pared down in an intentional manner.
This podcast is relatively new, as well, but the episodes (for the most part) carry a selected theme: relationships, education, clutter, etc. Ryan and Josh will answer listener questions, read excerpts from their essays, and offer recommendations for the content and tools that are currently adding value to their life. So far, my favorite episodes are education and relationships. If you’re going to start listening and only want to backtrack by listening to one or two of the past episodes, those are the go-to episodes, in my humble opinion.
The great part of listening to The Minimalists is that it feels judgment-free. Josh and Ryan don’t attempt to define what a minimalist is with rules and regulations. They offer suggestions and stories based on the changes they’ve made in their own lives that have added value. At the end of the day, it’s all about determining what value is to you, though, and that means you can take (and leave) what you want from the podcast. And you should. There is so much value to gain here.
TED Radio Hour
I discovered TED Radio Hour through The Minimalists. It was one of either Josh or Ryan’s valuable recommendations, and I figured I’d check out an episode or two to see if I thought it was a podcast I could get behind. It turns out, I can totally get behind TED Radio Hour—it’s a fascinating podcast that manages to surprise me and teach me something every single episode.
The host of TED Radio Hour, Guy Raz, picks a killer theme for each episode of the podcast, and then puts together a compilation of amazing TED talks to explore that selected theme. Does this sound exciting? It is. And quite honestly, it is even better than that. Guy also weaves in interviews with the individuals who originally delivered the TED talks, which turns each episode into a fascinating collection of interviews, TED talk recordings, and narrative from Guy himself.
What I find so attractive about this podcast is that the themes—no matter how far removed from anything I’ve ever studied, read about, or even thought about—are interesting. For instance, there was a recent episode on “endurance” which at first I thought would be far from interesting to someone like me. I’ve endured things, sure. You know: graduate school, car accidents, a dysfunctional childhood. But endurance as I imagined the episode referred to (and in some ways did)—trekking through harsh conditions or pushing your body to maximum capacity—I’ve never encountered. Despite this, the episode managed to offer several very different perspectives on endurance, including stories that felt close to home and ones that blew me away.
Any podcast that can teach me something new in a way that doesn’t make me want to throw myself from the treadmill (where you’ll frequently find me when I am listening to TED Radio Hour) is valuable to me. It’s definitely worth investing one or two episodes of listening time into so you can make that judgment for yourself. I doubt the podcast will disappoint.