Personal Growth

Listen Up! 6 Podcast Episodes for Cultivating Compassion

A man listening to a podcast on his phone with headphones

If you’re on the road and feeling like it’s a waste of your time, you’re not alone. Driving for hours to take your kids to and from school or meeting other demands throughout your day can be less than ideal, and you probably have spent plenty of time feeling frustrated about it. It’s easy to think that valuable time is wasted in the car. You might even say to yourself, “What about all of those emails that keep piling up?” and “How will I meet my next deadline?”

As a constant commuter, you can turn your dread for windshield time into appreciation. These moments in the car can give you the opportunity to acquire knowledge and cultivate compassion. It simply takes becoming a podcast and audiobook aficionado. Soon, you might even find yourself moved to tears of joy or sorrow as you listen to heart-opening stories.

Here are six podcast episodes that will open your heart and eyes to not only the power of compassion, but also the need for it. Whether you’re driving, taking a stroll, or doing the dishes, you can use that time to listen to these moving and informative episodes. Watch how your own capacity for compassion grows.

Invisibilia – “Flip the Script”

This will easily become your favorite episode to display the power of compassion. Come prepared with tissues because tears will most likely stream down your face as you listen to the second story (out of Denmark). Several Muslim teenagers from a town in Denmark began to flee the country to join ISIS, and their parents and city officials were unsure how to stop this growing issue. The police department used a unique approach—heavy-duty compassion—and it worked.

Listen to the full episode here.

This American Life – “Are We There Yet”

This up-close account of the refugee camps in Greece will open your eyes, and make you truly feel like you are connected to the people living there. The episode highlights normal stories, like people falling in love and children who are upset with their parents, and also not-so-normal stories of people living in refugee camps set up in gas stations. Listening to this will cultivate your empathy for refugees because you’ll truly understand what it is like to live like a refugee.

Listen to the full episode here.

Hidden Brain – “#AirbnbWhileBlack: How Hidden Bias Shapes the Sharing Economy”

This episode unpacks how unconscious biases can affect people who are trying to accomplish simple tasks—like booking a room. Many people unfairly judge others based on their names or pictures, and they may not even know they’re doing it. Luckily, the awareness of this issue of unconscious (and sometime conscious) bias is prompting action as seen in this recent campaign by Airbnb: #weaccept.

Listen to the full episode here.

NPR’s TED Radio Hour – “The Act of Listening”

One of the most compassionate acts you can offer is to truly listen to another person. This inspiring and moving episode features David Isay, founder of StoryCorps, who offers people the chance to connect through sharing stories and listening. You’ll also hear from Rev. Jeffrey Brown, who attributes an unprecedented reduction of violence in Baltimore to the power of compassionate listening.

Listen to the full episode here.

NPR’s TED Radio Hour – “Just a Little Nicer”

This episode gives you the ins and outs of compassion. You’ll learn about its roots, why it’s not always your go-to mode of operation, and how to cultivate more of it in the world. Highlighting many of the thought leaders in the compassion field, you’ll be inspired to make compassion part of your everyday life.

Listen to the full episode here.

Reply All – “The Reversal”

This episode is a beautiful example of compassion in action. Dr. Richard Bedlack’s desire for a cure for ALS prompted him to create the website ALS Untangled, which helps patients ask questions about untested treatment methods. A shining story of hope emerged, and Bedlack now has a lead that will not only help him learn more about the disease, but may even point to a cure.

Listen to the full episode here.

Next time you find yourself with a little extra time, listen to one of these podcast episodes. They will inspire you to listen with compassion, share your story with others, and lend a hand to those around you. The world could use some more compassion, and it’s up to you to offer it.

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