My favorite podcasts about happiness and living a good life.

Photo of cars on a busy street during an evening commute

About a year ago when we moved from one side of town to the other my commute went from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. A 30 minute commute really isn’t that long when compared to the national average but it’s all relative, right? I was worried about my longer commute time, hoping it wouldn’t be a total drag on my day (or life) or make me regret our move.

Enter podcasts. And the miracle that is Bluetooth.

I got a new (used) car this past fall with built in Bluetooth. I theoretically knew what Bluetooth was before I got this car but didn’t ever really understand how nice of a feature it was. I discovered it accidentally when I hopped in the car and my iTunes playlist I had listened to earlier, with headphones during a run, starting playing over my car’s speakers. Magic!

I started listening to podcasts on my commutes to and from work and it has made a huge difference. No more annoying morning DJs. I felt like a multi-tasking, productive genius by the time I got to work.

Here are my go-to podcasts related to living an awesome life:

Happier with Gretchen Rubin
The One You Feed podcast
The Lively Show
The Smart Passive Income podcast

Here are some of my other favorites on a variety of subjects:

HBR IdeaCast
Startup Podcast
Reply All
Call Your Girlfriend
Freakanomics
Invisibilia
Planet Money
The Moth Podcast

These are the podcasts for which I’m willing to give up precious storage space on my phone by subscribing and downloading them automatically. There are a few others on my list currently that I’m trying out. I’ll update this post as I figure out new favorites!

What are your favorite podcasts?

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Weekly recap [5.25.15]

Weekly dog:

Lola the dog sits at a work desk with a computer

Grateful for:

Days off! The semester has ended so I’m taking a much needed five day weekend.

On Thursday, a friend and I hiked the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. One of my favorite ways to catch up with friends is by taking a long walk.

Favorite eats:

If there is something “salted caramel” flavored I will eat it. I try to avoid dairy but this week I splurged on my favorite flavor of Talenti gelato.

Reads:

On loving your job… or not. (Written by a runner, which I appreciated.)

Inc. has a seven-minute morning work routine.

Morning “routine” to a morning routine.

Sun rises over the horizon. Farmland in the foreground

Do you have a morning routine?

I recently listened to two different podcasts that included interviews with Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning. I have yet to read the book but the podcasts have me reconsidering my mornings.

Right now, a typical weekday morning for me goes something like this:

  • Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. Repeat probably 3-10 times, depending on how I’m feeling that morning. SECOND ALARM GOES OFF. (So. many. alarms.)
  • Roll over. Take a look at my Sleep Cycle app to see how many hours of sleep I got and my overall sleep quality. Check three email accounts. Check Instagram. Check Feedly. Check calendar to see what’s going on that day.
  • Get up. Consider meditating. Don’t. Brush teeth, put in contacts, take out dog.
  • If it’s a good day, leash up the dog and go for a run. Practice gratitude for the beautiful sunrise, serene farmland, and the company of my poodle, even though she prefers sprinting to a nice, easy, well-paced jog.
  • Hop in the shower (if I ran or if I didn’t shower the night before).
  • Stand in front of closet and deliberate about what to wear. Try to avoid anything that needs ironing or pants that require heels.
  • Consider putting on full makeup but usually settle for just powder, mascara, blush and lip gloss.
  • Blow dry hair. Wish it were long enough to put up into bun so I could avoid straight ironing.
  • Reluctantly straight iron hair.
  • Make breakfast. While it’s cooking, feed the dog, get work stuff ready (lunch, change of shoes, pack up laptop, etc.)
  • Eat breakfast and watch Today show. Get annoyed by fear-mongering Rossen Report they seem to do every morning. Silently miss Ann Curry.
  • Give dog a treat. Feel bad for not playing with her more before leaving her for the day. #momguilt
  • Make sure favorite podcasts are downloaded to listen to while driving to work.

***

There are rituals and habits that make up my morning that are helpful, like my breakfast routine, for example. Mornings that include a run make me feel energized and productive.

But there is definitely a lot of day to day variance in my “routine” and opportunity to make my mornings more efficient, productive, and happier.

So I’m going to experiment with a more structured morning routine. To change my habits I think I have to start with the bedtime. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Start getting ready for bed at 9:30. Aim to be in bed and ready for sleep by 10:00pm.
  • End the day with a journal entry (I’m trying the “one sentence” approach to help me practice gratitude and to help me remember better) and a positive affirmation or thought for the following day that will hopefully be the thought I wake up to in the morning.
  • Get up when my alarm goes off at 5:00AM. Do not check email, Instagram, etc.
  • Stumble to the guest room to meditate for at least 10 minutes. (I hope to increase this amount over time.) I’m using the Buddhify app for guided meditation.
  • Read my happiness commandments (which are taped to the inside of the medicine cabinet but I think I’ll leave a copy by my meditation spot).
  • Three days a week: 30-40 minute workout, followed by some stretching. Most days this will be a run with the dog but if weather doesn’t cooperate it’ll be an at home yoga session or, if I can get up the motivation, a treadmill session in the basement.
  • Other two days a week: Read or write for 30 minutes + 15 minutes of puppy playtime + 5-10 minutes of moving to get blood flowing.
  • Shower, get dressed, etc.
  • Breakfast (probably still with the Today show because Today show: I can’t quit you).
  • Check Instagram feed and personal email.
  • Pack up, feed the dog, ready the podcasts, and then out the door.

We’ll see how this goes! I think there is more that could be added here (I’ve mostly skipped the affirmations and visualizations that Hal recommends) but am hoping to first establish some habits and routines and then tweak and add as I go.

What’s your morning routine? Any advice? What am I missing?

Update: Did you know there is a blog dedicated to sharing people’s morning routines? Brb, have to go spiral down an internet black hole while I read all the archives.

Weekly recap [5.17.15]

Weekly dog:

Lola the dog lays in her pool.

Grateful for:

As a recovering sugar addict I usually drink my coffee black. I finally broke the sugar-in-the-coffee-habit and I don’t want to go back. But… some Sundays I’ll indulge in a little sweetness in my coffee and this week we blended coffee, cocoa, honey, and coconut oil.

Mug "Be Awesome" with blended coffee

Favorite eats:

I cannot stop making pork roasts. (I added some crushed red pepper to the seasoning on the Italian pork roast for some extra heat.) Then I made collard greens for the first time ever in my life using the Crisp & Sweet recipe on this page.

Reads:

“I fight constantly between those two things, between not apologizing for what I want and staying vulnerable and creatively supple and not thinking I know better than everyone else.” I just finished reading Yes Please (liked it) and was excited to read this Fast Company profile on Amy Poehler.

Lawyers With Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

How to stop worrying

I impulse bought this michellar water during a recent trip to Target then came across this article. I’m hoping it will be as miraculous as it sounds because I think it can simplify my bedtime routine.

What if we stopped judging?

Do you second guess your choices? I have a tendency to overthink the past. I’m going to try this.

Weekly recap [5.10.15]

[Sorry for the late post… computer completely died last night!]

Weekly dog:

Lola the dog rides in the front seat of the car.
Going to work.

Grateful for:

Yogadownload.com podcasts – I’ve been trying (and often failing) to start practicing yoga at home. Practicing entirely on my own, outside of a class and outside of a studio, requires a lot of thinking. I did one of these 20 minute, free podcasts and it was easy to follow without having to worry about what pose to do next.

Favorite eats:

One my favorite things to make is Kalua Pork because it is easy, it involves bacon, and it provides lots of protein for the week (so I don’t have to think too much about meals). It’s versatile, so it can be combined and eaten lots of ways. My favorite thing is to bake some plaintains, add some guac and salsa, and get it into my mouth ASAP.

Reads:

Things that are worth doing can be both irritating and awesome at the same time. Often times it’s about momentum… if I’m lounging around I want to keep lounging around, even when I know motivating myself to get up and do something fun or productive is the thing that will make me happier. (via Yes and Yes)

Ugh, chores. I try to adhere to “School 1” when it comes to division of duties. (via Capitol Hill Style)

Did you see the NY Times article on nail salons? A reminder that “luxuries” don’t come without cost and that thinking about how to make work happier or more fulfilling is a privilege when so many workers are exploited and subject to unsafe conditions.

Week in review 5.3.15

Weekly dog:

Lola the dog lies in the grass and with her tongue out
Waiting patiently for the frisbee.

Grateful for:
Pedicures with a friend. I usually don’t splurge on this because I figure I can do it myself and even if I paint my nails horribly it won’t matter much because no one gets a close up look at my feet. (Generally.) But it’s nice to once in awhile get a pedi and even better if I can multitask by catching up with a good friend at the same time. (I got this fun shade.)

Favorite eats:
I had my first serving of Babcock ice cream for the summer. I went with the Salted Caramel Toffee, which was new to me. It was good but not as good as the never disappointing peanut butter chocolate because, duh. Peanut butter chocolate.

Reads:

The Best and Worst Fonts to Use on Your Resume
“Do not even look at Comic Sans. It should not be on your résumé ‘unless you are applying to clown college.'” I used to be a university career advisor and am forever a resume a nerd. And a font lover. Win and win.

Change Your Daily Experience by Practicing Gratitude
Shifting just a little bit can really change everything… but it’s not always easy to do!

Using email to make your life better? Since email usually doesn’t make my life better, I was intrigued. I think some of these things can be adapted for other communication tools if email isn’t your favorite. (via Yes and Yes)

Week in review 4.26.15

Weekly dog:

Goofball.
Goofball.

Grateful for:

This week was extra busy at work so I was grateful for a friend date on Thursday night. I was dead tired heading over to the coffee shop where we had decided to meet but energized after just an hour of catching up.

Favorite eats:
BBQ Pork sandwich and sweet potato fries at Alchemy Cafe. A rare meal out. Since completing Whole30 in January we usually eat almost all our meals at home.

Reads:
A couple weeks ago this article about a woman who wears the same thing to work everyday was all over my Facebook feed and blog reader. Then I read this article about trading in a closet full of clothes for a capsule wardrobe and both have me thinking I need to do some pretty drastic work in my closet. (I recently ordered this book because it seems like everyone on the internet is raving about its magic. So we’ll see…)

Is it harder to maintain friendships in your 30s? I think it’s definitely more difficult to maintain friendships post-college and even more difficult once kids are involved. But I don’t know if I can settle for only “quickie friendships” in my own life. Though I do love the idea of having some “errand friends” to at least make those chores more fun.