10 Optimistic Podcast to Make You Feel Less Bad About Existing in 2024



We’re only a few months into 2024 and it’s going…bad. Horrific wars, mass civilian casualties, the ever worsening specter of climate change, and lots more to feel justifiably hopeless and helpless about (and we’re not even in the thick of election season in the U.S. yet). When things seem bleak (because they are), your best course of action is to find hope wherever you can—and these podcasts can help.

These shows remind us that even at times of great strife and suffering, there are good people in the world, and we can all do our part to create change for the better, both for ourselves and for the world.


I Am America

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On I Am America, Tracee Ellis Ross presents portraits of everyday people making big changes in the world, just by living beautiful lives. The storytelling is vulnerable, insightful, and authentic: A family works together to support a young boy’s dream of becoming a baker. An immigrant woman finds freedom when she embraces her disability. A former businessman explains what he learns when he decided to volunteer at an elementary school in Harlem. These stories made me melt, because they are hopeful, and because listening to them is such a joy.


Everybody in the Pool

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It may seem impossible to be anything less than nihilistic about climate change. Everybody in the Pool is sharing reasons for hope. It’s a show entirely about climate solutions and the people who are building them. Host Molly Wood talks floating airships that can move cargo around in a zero-emissions and possibly even carbon-negative way, imagines a sea without plastics, and focuses on innovations that will help us adapt and be more resilient. It’s a reminder that giving our attention to smart people who are dedicated to finding solutions might be a better movie that wallowing.


Blue Sky

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If you need to find more silver linings in your life, there’s nobody better to ask for help than Bill Burke, founder of The Optimism Institute. On Blue Sky, he has conversations with inspiring leaders, authors, researchers, and big thinkers who are thinking big about how to effect positive change in everything from media, to politics, to big tech. You’ll sleep better at night having listened to these conversations. 


When The People Decide

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Part storytelling, part civics class, When the People Decide is a podcast that presents rare evidence that our government actually can do something right, by exploring the initiative and referendum process that allows citizens in some states to vote directly on policy and work together to put issues they care about on the ballot. Host Jenna Spinelle tells stories of citizens protecting libraries, bolstering the rights of the queer community, supporting local news, and more. There are pros and cons to the process, but ultimately, it’s about living in a democracy and working together.


Making Peace Visible

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Fear-mongering media knows that conflict gets clicks, but peace is happening all around us. Making Peace Visible is a good reminder. On every episode, award-winning documentary filmmaker and peace activist Jamil Simon has thoughtful conversations with journalists and peace-builders about the human side of war, and about ongoing peace efforts around the world.


Outrage + Optimism

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If you get angry about climate change, tune into Outrage + Optimism, which will help you turn that rage into something positive. The show hosts hopeful dialogues about the path to building a sustainable future. It isn’t about turning our frowns upside down, but using storytelling to show us that some of the innovations in energy, tree planting, shipping, and more happening today give us reason to hope that our best days aren’t behind us.


Future Hindsight

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Future Hindsight will get you off your butt and focused on civic action, and making the change you want to see in the world. It will help you understand the power of your vote and the importance of active participation in civic life, and share big ideas about action items everyday people can carry out. Host Mila Atmos is smart and curious, and her conversations are empowering, informative, and inspiring.


What Could Go Right?

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What if, instead of teetering on the edge of catastrophe, we stand at the threshold of a more promising world? We face news of pandemics, climate change, and the rise of authoritarianism on a daily basis. Curling into a ball on the floor is tempting, but too easy. On What Could Go Right?, Zachary Karabell, the Founder of Progress Network, and Emma Varvaloucas, its executive director, assemble a diverse group of experts to dive into pivotal issues like sustainability, polarization, work, the economy, and more, seeking to help you manifest a future that isn’t full of doom and gloom.


TED Talks Daily

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Maybe the best way to fight doomerism is to listen to brilliant, curious people explain the ways they see the world as it is now. TED Talks Daily passes the mic to everyone from speakers who’ve given viral TED talks to veteran podcast producers, doctors, and academics, so they can share about what fires them up, inspires them to work for change, and keeps them up at night, in both good and challenging ways. Learn how luminaries bridge political divides, turn pain into power, fight hunger, design for dignity, and more.


How My View Grew

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In an era when political discourse is more divided than ever, How My View Grew explores the power of nuanced thinking. Hosted by experienced executive coach, writer, and seasoned interviewer Amiel Handelsman, the show dives deep into humanity’s challenges by considering the stories of important people whose views have fundamentally shifted over time—proving, if nothing else, that change is possible and we don’t all have to remain entrenched and afraid. Guests include essayist William Deresiewicz, who discusses the discovery of heterodox thinkers, and Yale historian Marci Shore, who offers insights into the growth of democracy in Ukraine. 

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