It’s time for a bit of fun; today is all about lifting your spirits in the moment. Although surprisingly (or perhaps not!), there’s an abundance of research confirming the relationship between the power of music and our happiness levels, not just in the short-term but in the long term too.
A while ago I was sitting in a car with a friend feeling rather down, and he decided to ‘cheer me up’ by pushing the volume to the max and playing his favourite tunes, whilst ‘car-dancing’ with great glee. He turned to me, smiled, and said “Feeling good now?”. The answer was (although I didn’t tell him) no. I felt significantly worse. How could this be so?
Studies show that positive music lifts moods, can even release dopamine (the ‘feel-good’ chemical) and stimulate those parts of the brain responsible for positive emotion. “This basically explains why music has been around for so long,” says Dr Valorie Salimpoor. “The intense pleasure we get from it is actually biologically reinforcing in the brain.” Evidence shows that music can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and help regulate breathing.
So why was it not working for me? Further research shows that one’s emotions are (understandably) connected to the music of choice for that individual. So it seemed to me that although I liked my friend’s music, they weren’t MY happy songs, therefore it didn’t have the same positive effect on my emotions. I decided to put my new theory to the test and for one month instead of watching the news every morning (which would often upset me) I would play my ‘happy songs’ daily. One in particular (don’t ask – my music taste is questionable!) would really get me going and by the end of only the first week I found myself dancing madly around my bedroom (not a good sight) singing at to the top of my lungs. It was a far better way to start my day than my previous morning routine.
My ‘happy songs’ often change (although there are some reliable old regulars); and pending my mood the results can vary. But for me, this simple task has genuinely increased my happiness levels. Proof of the pudding: I was lying in bed poorly, watching TV, and the National Television Awards popped up. I gloomily frowned as I cuddled my hot water bottle. Until… Gloria Gaynor appeared. Before I knew it a big smile came over my face, a burst of energy appeared from nowhere, and I was jigging away in my bed.
“I will survive!”.
What’s your ‘happy song’? Go play it!
Please click here for further research on Happy Songs.