It doesn’t take a genius or a scientist to know that music has the ability to lift our mood and make us feel happier. In fact I’ll bet every single one of us can think of a song that played at a pivotal moment in our lives and be instantly transported back to that time and place the minute it plays. Or I’ll bet you can remember a time when your all-time favorite song spontaneously came over the radio and you burst out in song and/or dance with a smile on your face. But if we all know music can make us happy, why don’t we use music more regularly to experience greater happiness and motivate our actions when necessary? More importantly, are we willing to consider that music might even alter the very chemistry of our bodies and positively influence our overall health.
Let’s start with the facts. A now classic study done by Suvi Saarikallio and Jaakko Erkkila from the University Of Jyvaskyla, Finland provides documented research proving that music has the power to affect mood regulation in adolescents. There are dozens of more studies available just by googling the question. And if music has the power to effect teenagers, then the rest of us are equally susceptible. The specific benefits found by these studies offer a great short list of the benefits of music:
- Entertainment - At the most fundamental level music provides stimulation. It lifts the mood before any event, it passes the time while doing cleaning, it accompanies travelling, reading and surfing the web.
- Revival - Music revitalizes in the morning and calms in the evening.
- Strong sensation - Music can provide deep, thrilling emotional experiences, particularly while performing.
- Diversion - Music distracts the mind from unpleasant thoughts, which can easily fill the silence.
- Discharge - Music matching deep moods can release emotions: purging and cleansing.
- Mental work - Music encourages daydreaming, sliding into old memories, and exploring the past.
- Solace - Shared emotion, shared experience, a connection to someone lost.
What is even more compelling is how music has the ability to influence our health. A wide variety of research is available in this regard as well. A short list of what is possible was offered in an article titled: Seven Ways Music Breaks Can Improve Your Health by Srinivasan Pillay. Here are the major five:
- Choir singing and related listening increases immunity in the body.
- Recreational music-making (including drumming) improves immunity. Older adults tend to be particularly susceptible.
- Music has been shown to protect against cancer, increase pain threshold and fight the effects of chemotherapy.
- ICU patients are likely to need less sedation and/or pain medication when exposed to positive music. It is thought that music’s ability to reduce stress and increase dopamine production is the cause.
- Music can lower blood pressure.
But there’s more. One of the most exciting possibilities in the area of music and its positive affects comes from Dr. Masaru Emoto from Japan. While not without its controversy, Dr. Emoto’s premise is that music and words have a profound effect on water. And because the human body is approximately 65% water, we are all very susceptible to the music we surround ourselves with at any time. How does he demonstrate this claim? By freezing water molecules both before and after they are subjected to individual words, music or actions and taking a photo of the results, the differences are remarkable. Simply put, water when exposed to positive words or uplifting music, forms beautiful crystals when photographed. When exposed to negative, violent words or harsh and violent music, dark unformed visuals are the results. The best way to consider this is to what the short attached video.
What this work suggests is that uplifting music/words can change the chemistry of the cells in our body in a positive way. The opposite of that would also then be true.
What if it’s all possible? What if the music we listen to has the ability to make us feel happier, lift our moods, motivate us to action, and even change the cells in our body? Internalizing that message would suggest that we each create a musical playlist and put it on our iPod and start listening daily. Wondering where to get started? Here are a few musical suggestions off my own SMART list that should help encourage anyone to be inspired:
- What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
- Beauty in the World by Macy Gray
- Me by Paula Cole
- The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti
- Blessed by Martina McBride
- One Love by Bob Marley
- Take Another Road by Jimmy Buffett
- One Tribe by The Black Eyed Peas
- Conviction of the Heart by Kenny Loggins
- Money Can’t Buy It by Annie Lennox
The good news is that it doesn’t seem to matter what type of music we listen to or like–as long as the words are uplifting and positive and we feel good when we listen. When you think about it, music is one of the most inexpensive and accessible ways to change our mood, motivate us to action, encourage us and maybe even make us healthier–and it is also easy to fit into just about anyone’s life style. I dare you to listen to one or two of the songs I’ve suggested and not feel happier. Better yet, pick your own favorites and start dancing!
P.S. Do I really even need to mention that listening to positive music also helps to promote peace on the planet? This post is also linked to other Bloggers 4 Peace!