Friday, 10 May 2013

The power of music

Why does music make us feel so great?

When you hear a great song that you love start to play, it just makes you feel better and improves your day. You know that feeling, when you’re sitting in traffic and the station decides to play one of your favourites, you can just feel your mood lift.

A song you love + the power of your brain = why a favourite song provokes such a strong emotional response.

The brain is a powerful thing, and it is affected by music in many ways. It's official music and our mood are definitely linked. Scientists have done studies that have shown how listening to different types of music affects our mood and perceptions of the world. This is an extremely powerful neuro-biological link that we can harness to alter our mood and contribute to our happiness.

We are all wired differently, which is why a song that you love, your partner hates and your father can't stand at all. Our brains process aspects of music such as melody, rhythm, pitch, lyrics differently; so someone who has a preference for rhythm and blues music is unlikely to feel incredibly happy by listening to top 40 pop music. 

How you feel too affects how well music can work its magic on you. For example, even though you may love a particular song, sometimes it just doesn't hit the spot if it's not suited to your mood. If you love a good power ballad, it’s just not going to do it for you when you are working out and want some motivating, energetic music. Similarly, a song you might not like much normally may be fantastic to listen to for increasing your motivation when you're pumping it on the treadmill. 

Music is strongly linked to memories. You might reminisce on your wedding day when you hear the song you danced to get played. You may feel sad when you hear the song that played at your Grandma's funeral. In the middle of winter, playing songs that remind you of summer and warmth can help to keep you out of a winter funk.

While we can probably all agree that music is pretty awesome, remember to unplug from time to time, as there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The pleasurable effects of music will be less effective if you are constantly surrounded by it.

I always knew music was great and an essential ingredient for the happiness recipe. Here are five of my favourite songs that always put me in a good mood and make me feel good. 

1. "White Flag" - by Dave Barnes
2. "The Beat" - by Ben Rector
3. "Fallin' For You"  by Colbie Caillat
4. "Hanginaround" - by Counting Crows
5. "Red" - Taylor Swift

I may like these songs, the rest of you may or may not, it will depend how you’re wired! What songs lift you up when you’re having a bad day? What songs make your body want to sway and get your toes tapping? What music is in your happiness recipe?

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