Healthy Mind

Having ‘Main Character Energy’ Doesn’t Make You a Narcissist, and 7 More Pieces of Expert Intel That Really Resonated With Us in 2022

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Year two of The Well+Good Podcast is coming to a close, and we’re officially in our sentimental era. Over the course of 2022, we connected with experts across the wellness world, including yoga practitioners, therapists, and anti-diet dietitians, to highlight topics having a big moment in the wellness zeitgeist—as well as ones that we thought deserved more attention. As the year nears its end, we only thought it right to wrap things up like a real holiday gift. Now presenting: Our final episode of the year, devoted to our best podcast moments of 2022.

To create the episode, Well+Good’s director of creative development Ella Dove and director of podcast Taylor Camille listened back to hours of audio, culling the top eight soundbites that really stuck with them. “Trust us when we say that putting together this episode was a labor of love and laughs,” says Dove. “And how appropriate is it that such a special episode marks our 90th episode since launch.” (As we head toward the major milestone that is our 100th episode, we’re also asking for your ideas on how to best mark the occasion in the new year; please send us an email at podcasts@wellandgood.com to share your thoughts.)

Listen to the full episode here:

Of all the best W+G podcast moments in 2022, one really resonated with both Dove and Camille—and that was the conversation on “main character energy” led by clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, and social media influencer Raeann Langas. The term, which rose to social-media fame in 2021, came under fire this year as a glorification of narcissism, even prompting the rise of an oppositional term, “side character energy” (or what we called “supporting character energy”). So, naturally, we asked the experts to break down the real differences between “main character energy”—at least, as it’s being used on social media—and full-fledged narcissism.

“It’s very easy to say that everyone on social media [promoting themselves] is narcissistic, but it’s not so simple,” says Dr. Durvasula. “There are plenty of people who spend lots of time on social media who are also deeply empathetic toward others in real life.”

Overall, the key distinction between someone embracing healthy “main character energy” and someone acting with narcissistic tendencies is about not losing sight of others, says Langas. “Do advocate for yourself for that raise that you really want, but also acknowledge that you are part of a bigger team,” she says, as an example. “Do walk into a pool party thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I look so sexy,’ but don’t bring other people down in the process.”

Clarifying the real meaning of a contentious or stigmatized term was at the root of a few other podcast highlights from 2022—namely, the series of episodes with self-identifying women in wellness covering the different facets of feminism, and the episode on pleasure in all its forms. For the former, “we reflected [with our guests] on what the word feminism really means and how our understanding of the gender binary, intersectionality, and feminism, femininity, and womanhood can be complicated but always evolving,” says Dove. And for the latter, we rewrote the script on sex and pleasure with the help of sexuality doula Ev’Yan Whitney and sexologist Alexandra Fine, co-founder and CEO of sexual pleasure tool company Dame.

“Pleasure is really about feeling good in our own bodies,” says Whitney, in the episode, encouraging listeners to think about “the things that make you feel good, that bring you joy, that delight your senses, that help your body soften.” It’s these things, she says, that make up the definition of pleasure.

A few of the other best podcast moments of 2022 include conversations on all things coffee and caffeine with neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, PhD, and on what we can learn from looking at and talking about our poop (goodbye, #poopshaming) with registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD—two topics that you all seem to think are the sh*t.

To hear all of our favorite podcast soundbites of the year, listen to the full podcast episode here.

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