Best of 2016: Most Listened-To Podcast Episodes

Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 7:21am

Best of 2016: Most Listened-To Podcast Episodes

Happy holidays to you!

Exciting news this week at Loring Park! The Atlantic chose On Being as one its top 50 podcasts of 2016. As 2016 comes to a close, I present you with On Being's best podcasts of the year — as determined by you, our listeners. If you have some long road trips ahead of you or need to take an hour away from family for some sweet salvation during holiday gatherings, here's a list to accompany you...

1 The Conversational Nature of Reality
David Whyte

David Whyte shared a deep friendship with one of the spiritual geniuses of our day (and a past guest on our program), the late John O’Donohue. Whyte is a philosopher and poet who believes in the power of a “beautiful question” amidst the drama of work as well as the drama of life — amidst the ways the two overlap, whether we want them to or not.

One listener, Janaki, a professor of medicine who specializes in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, submitted this lovely reflection after listening to the podcast:

"This week was the first week of my new life as an independent woman, not defined by my marriage, and learning to figure out who I am, possibly for the first real time in my life (better late than never). It's scary, but so far it's not as bad as I anticipated, and particularly the poem 'Vulnerability' hit close to my recent experience. As always, thank you."

2 Choosing Curiosity Over Fear
Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is best-known for her memoir, Eat Pray Love. Through the disorienting process of becoming a global celebrity, she has reflected on the gift and challenge of inhabiting a creative life. Creativity is about choosing curiosity over fear, she says, and it's something accessible to us all and good for our life together:

"I think curiosity is our friend that teaches us how to become ourselves. And it's a very gentle friend, and a very forgiving friend, and a very constant one. Passion is not so constant, not so gentle, not so forgiving, and sometimes not so available."

3 The Magic Shop of the Brain
James Doty

How do the brain and the heart talk to each other? What does compassion mean in the body and in action? How can we reshape our lives and perhaps our species through the scientific and human understanding we are now gaining? The brain surgeon James Doty investigates these types of questions through the discipline of science and through his own personal journey.

One listener, Kristin Schnurr, found comfort in Doty's approach to suffering and the kindred spirits who listened along to this conversation:

"The circumstances in the world today bring me so much heartache and worry. Dr. Doty reminded me that even a smile can help the world become more peaceful. When the suffering of others feels so overwhelming it is helpful to know that all I can really do is to keep practicing compassion. To know that Dr. Doty and most of the listeners see circumstances, and feel their thoughts the same as me is helpful, too. I don't feel so alone and hopeless.”

4 Anatomy of Gratitude
David Steindl-Rast

Brother David Steindl-Rast, now 90, has lived through a world war, the end of an empire, and the fascist takeover of his country of Austria. I affectionately think of him as the guru of gratitude (His TED Talk has been viewed more than five million times!), a practice that's key to human well-being. It was an honor and a great privilege to be able to visit Brother David in his native homeland in the Austrian Alps. In this conversation recorded in Gut Aich Priory monastery in St. Gilgen, he speaks of mysticism as the birthright of every human being, and of the anatomy and practice of gratitude as full-blooded, reality-based, and redeeming:

"I don’t speak of the gift, because not for everything that’s given to you can you really be grateful. You can’t be grateful for war in a given situation, or violence, or sickness, things like that. So the key when people ask, can you be grateful for everything? No, not for everything, but in every moment.”

5 The Myth of Closure
Pauline Boss

Pauline Boss, a family therapist who coined the term "ambiguous loss," says that there is no such thing as closure. The concept is a myth we need to put aside; it leads us astray. She offers practical, useful wisdom for the complicated griefs and losses we all experience in life — and how we best approach the losses of others:

"We have to live with loss, clear or ambiguous. It's OK. And it's OK to see people who are hurting and just to say something simple. 'I'm so sorry.' You really don't have to say more than that.”

If you have a few moments, I encourage you to read listeners' reflections posted in response to this conversation. They are loving and kind, and filled with stories that just might resonate with your own experiences.

From everybody on our team, I'd like to extend our deepest gratitude to you. We are all so grateful for the trust you show us by listening to our interviews, reading our columnists (and this newsletter!), and attending our live events. Time is at a premium these days, and we appreciate you spending a part of your day with us.

We welcome your feedback, critical or otherwise. Please tell me how I'm doing. The best way to reach me is at trentgilliss@onbeing.org.

May the wind always be at your back!

Trent

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Trent Gilliss

is the cofounder of On Being / KTPP and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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Reflections

These are all great conversations; discovering on being has been probably the "top 1" event in my year (I live in Argentina). I would have added to the list the conversation with Dr. BJ Miller, but I understand you had to select 5 :) I appreciate so much the contribution you do to the world, this opportunity to listen and know all the good that different people in different fields in different parts of the world are doing... this is how we feel part of a greater community, one that trusts, is grateful, committed and welcoming too. Happy new year!

We need a top 10 list! :)

A friend recently introduced me to On Being, and after listening to the top 5 podcasts of 2016 I discovered an inviting home here.
Krista Tippett's calming voice and gentle questions soothed my soul, and the guests being interviewed offered a refreshing optimism that is much needed in a world where bad news gets too much of our attention. Thank you to everyone at On Being for giving me true food for thought that is as nourishing as it is uplifting. I can't wait to hear more!

OnBeing accompanies my walks, my drives, my workouts, my knitting sessions, and takes me out of the mundanities of daily life into a life of possibility for which I am gently remind to be grateful!

sorry... no deep reflections, just ogling Daniel Desario's face!

Trent Gilliss's picture

I have to appreciate someone who can slip in a Freaks and Geeks reference into our media space!

apples