FULL DISCLOSURE: I had originally planned to write a blog about awe walks following my recent holiday in the French alps. I told Ilana and Sally I would write it over the weekend, with a plan to put pen to paper on Sunday afternoon.
Around 2pm on Sunday afternoon, and full of good intentions, I decided to treat myself to a pre-blog nap on the sofa. BIG MISTAKE. I woke an hour later feeling exhausted, grumpy and full of the Sunday blues. I begrudgingly sat at my laptop to write my blog – but I had nothing to say. I felt so miserable and out of sorts. From my doom and gloom there was no way I could write my intended ‘happy’ blog.
By 6pm, feeling unproductive, I decided I needed a break and would cook some dinner. I walked into the kitchen, took potatoes and peeler, and uttered the 4 little words that would change the course of my evening ‘Alexa, play Fleetwood Mac’.
The opening strums of ‘The Chain’ poured out of the speaker. Instantly the air around me seemed somehow lighter. I began to sing as I peeled – quietly at first, but then more loudly. The next song began: ‘Tell Me Lies’ – yep, this was more like it. The quicker tempo got me moving. I turned the volume up and my mood felt a little brighter. Maybe THIS was what I needed to cheer me up. The third song kicked in (details coming reader) and that’s when the magic happened. It was just the perfect song at the perfect time – full of rhythm, attitude, guitar and melody. It hit the spot in every way. Volume turned up to ‘extra loud’ I sang along (badly) with a wooden spoon as my microphone. I danced and jumped. I felt AMAZING!
As the song finished, I continued to ask my speaker, Alexa, to play some specific songs. Songs which seemed to call to me. Not my favourite tracks per se, but the songs I needed to hear in that moment to make me happy.
It’s easy to underestimate the power music has over our emotions. But my experience in the kitchen highlighted to me what an important catalyst for happiness the right piece of music can be. There has been a whole host of research done on music and emotions, many of which are highlighted on the Happynesshub site. A study at the Montreal Neurological Institute performed brain scans on people to see how they were affected by uplifting and neutral music. The positive music lifted their mood and activated those parts of the brain responsible for reward and positive emotion. They described that this music gave participants “chills” of euphoria! A separate study at McGill University in Montreal showed that music can cause the release of dopamine in the brain – the “feel good” chemical that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. “This basically explains why music has been around for so long,” says Valorie Salimpoor who conducted the study. “The intense pleasure we get from it is actually biologically reinforcing in the brain.”
Here are the 5 songs I chose in the kitchen that changed the course of my evening so brilliantly. Have a listen – perhaps they’ll bring you joy too. And I firmly believe the way you listen to them helps – so don’t dismiss my suggestions to enhance the listening experience – ha! Headphones at the ready – we’re going in.
SONG 1 FLEETWOOD MAC – GO YOUR OWN WAY