What Does It Mean To Be Human?

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on February 16th, 2018.

I’m not exactly what you would call an early adopter of technology. I love it, but I don’t always take to new technologies right away. That being said, once I figure it out, I usually become a ferocious consumer, which is a pretty accurate way to describe my initiation into the world of podcasts. I may have been late to the podcast party, but now that I’m here, I can’t get enough. Whether it’s in the car, on the elliptical, or taking my dogs for a walk, there’s never a bad time to catch up on my podcasts. While there are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts to choose from, there’s one that is heads and tails above the rest as far as I’m concerned, and if you’re not listening to On Being, I’m not going to lie, I may be judging you right now. Just a bit.

Hosted by Krista Tippett, On Being is a weekly podcast that discusses some of the most basic, and most profound, questions in life. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live our lives? You know, the easy questions. Except that they’re not easy at all, and in fact are incredibly complicated questions that require extraordinarily sensitive and respectful discussions in order to get anywhere close to an answer, and this is where Krista excels. Guests on the show range from scientists and religious leaders, to artists and teachers, and while you may have heard of some of her guests, such as Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, Sheryl Sandberg, Yo-Yo Ma, Martin Sheen, Eve Ensler, and the Dali Lama, I know I hadn’t heard of the majority of her guests before listening to their episodes. However, after hearing what they had to say, I’m happy that On Being provided the introduction, as their discussions with Krista are always thoughtful, insightful, illuminating, and just downright incredible. With episodes dating all the way back to 2001, there are hundreds to choose from, but if you’re looking for recommendations, please check out 5 of my favorite episodes below.

1) Brene Brown – Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart

I just listened to this podcast yesterday and it is so, so, so good. If you do not know Brene’s work, I’m judging you again. Check out her many books and TED talks HERE. Together, Brene and Krista take on the issue of belonging. It’s a big one and it’s an important one, and it goes to the core of who we are as human beings. Such a great episode. Go. Listen.

2) Parker Palmer and Courtney E. Martin – The Inner Life of Rebellion

I am blessed to personally know these two amazing people, and I cannot get enough of either of them. You may know Courtney from her many books and TED talks, and Parker, well, he is a legend, and one of his many books, Let Your Life Speak, was a game-changer for me when I read it almost 20 years ago. I have listened to this episode over and over again.

3) Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant – Resilience After Unimaginable Loss

Sheryl suffered an unimaginable loss when her husband, Dave Goldberg, passed away suddenly in 2015. In this touching podcast she opens up about her loss together with her dear friend Adam Grant. I learned so much from listening, including how to support a friend who had recently also suffered an unimaginable loss.

4) Maria Popova – Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age

Before On Being I had not heard of Maria and Brain Pickings. Now I know and I am the better for it.

5) Lyndsey Stonebridge – Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now

There were so many great lines and incredible observations in this podcast that I found myself pausing it, hitting replay, and then pausing it again to process. Here is one of them. “Thinking,” she says, “is not the same as judgment, but it creates the right conditions for judgment.” Since last year was the year I was committed to thinking about my thinking, this podcast was a perfect fit.

Beyond her incredible podcasts, there are many other reasons to jump over to the On Beingwebsite. In 2013, Krista expanded her operations by starting her own production company, Krista Tippett Public Productions, in order to produce future episodes of On Being. Since then, this company has gone on to launch several additional podcasts, conversational and writing projects, and 2016’s Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, a book that once again tackles the ever simple question of how to live a life of wisdom, and where exactly that wisdom can be found. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite books and I can’t stop recommending it to everyone I meet.

This weekend, Krista is further expanding her enterprise once more by hosting the first ever On Being Gathering in California at the 1440 Multiversity, and I couldn’t be more excited to be one of the inaugural attendees along with my husband and daughter. Billed as three days of “conversation, poetry, and community with Krista Tippett, beloved teachers from the show and the blog, and the entire On Being team”, I can’t wait for the retreat to get started later today.

In today’s divided and fractured times, I look forward to my weekly appointment with On Being, because every time I finish an episode, I’m reminded that civil, respectful, and productive conversations are possible, even between those who couldn’t be farther apart in their opinions, and this is something that our world desperately needs right now. And in case you were wondering why I’ve been referring to Krista in the informal first name basis for this article, it’s because I’ve been lucky enough to get to know her over this past year and to call her a friend. I can assure you, she’s just as incredible in person as she is on the podcast, so go subscribe now. You’re welcome.

PLEASE share your favorite episodes in the comment section if you are already a listener to On Being, or if you have other favorite podcasts, please share those too. Have a great day.

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