How Music can Affect our Mood

musicHave you ever paid close attention to the music you listen to? Music is all around us: on the radio, in movies, in our CD/Tape/MP3 player and at events. Music has a powerful way of triggering emotions in us. Sometimes a song will remind us of people, places or events. Other times, the music itself (the key, tempo, style or lyrics) can make us feel a certain way. Some even say that listening to certain types of music (mainly classical) will make you smarter or more productive (the Baby Einstein Company made a fortune out of this concept).

Once you recognize that certain songs or types of music make you feel a certain way, you can use that music to instantly change your emotional state. So if you’re feeling blue, the right music can often cheer you up (or make you feel worse if that’s what you desire).

When I was growing up, I used to see a commercial for a compilation of songs that were a decade or so old frequently advertised on TV. One of the people endorsing it said “listening to those songs is like being with my old friends” and that particular quote stuck in my head – I thought the person in the commercial was just saying it, and I’d often mock him. But when I became a young adult, I actually found that quote to be quite true. Songs started reminding me of certain friends from high school, hanging out in the dorms as college freshman, summers, trips and even parties.

What’s interesting was that many of these songs were songs that I didn’t like at the time, but they eventually grew on me because of the memories attached to them. In many cases, the memories were from a time in my life where I had so many positive feelings. It was a simpler time, less stressful time (before the pressures of career and family set in) and a time of reflection and growth.

Our memories contain so much more than just pictures: sounds, smells, tastes and even feelings can trigger a memory or emotional response. Songs that remind us of happy times can often cheer us up when we’re feeling a bit down. Songs that we used in high school to pump us up for a big sporting event can help us get in the right emotional state prior to an important meeting or event. In fact, 2000 World Champion of Speaking, Darren Lacroix, mentions in his programs that he listened to the “Rocky” soundtrack while waiting to go on stage prior to giving his winning speech. So why can’t we do the same thing?

Something that’s helped me a lot in recent years has been to create various play lists of songs for a particular purpose. I have a list of songs called “motivational” with songs that have lyrics that inspire me. I have another list of songs for working: it includes instrumental music including Pachelbel’s Cannon in D. It not only provides background noise, but an Australian study claims that this song in particular reduces stress.

Other play lists that I use include songs for exercising, songs that cheer me up, songs to remind me of the special people in my life (past & present) and songs that help change my focus when I feel overwhelmed. These play lists sit on my computer and I can easily transfer them to my MP3 player or use them to create CDs. With download services charging as little at 99 cents per song, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to put together your own play lists (or you can use music that you already own).

So if you ever find yourself in a non-resourceful state, remember that changing your mood can sometimes be as simple as changing the music.

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