Sunday, October 19, 2008

lift your mood with music

Music has a tremendous impact on our mood. Listening to a sad song can trigger the blues or bring up feelings of melancholy. Hearing an old favorite song from childhood can bring back memories you had long forgotten or stashed away in a remote corner of your mind. Some songs can make you angry. It may just be the frequency of the beat, or it may be the lyrics, or it could be that the song reminds you of a person who's treated you poorly in the past. At the same time, a happy song can pull you out of the slumps and turn your mood around!

Sometimes, we want to feel sadness or anger or melancholy. On a rainy day, there may be nothing more nourishing than putting on your favorite ballad and curling up with a hot cup of tea. Maybe you have a song that reminds you of your deceased mother or an old love. At times, it can be very healing to encourage the feelings of sadness. Listening to sad music over and over again, day after day, would only serve to keep us stuck in our grief, but, at times, we need to feel our sadness. Sadness is not a 'bad' thing. Sadness is just as valid an emotion as happiness, and, in order to have the complete human experience, it is important that we allow ourselves to feel and express the whole range of emotions.

Unfortunately, we too often repress our feelings, because we were taught as kids that it wasn't acceptable to let the world see how we really felt. Stop crying. Stop whining. Don't be so dramatic! Swallow your anger and move on. Big boys/girls don't cry. Get over it already! You are much too sensitive. ...and so on. Do any of these sound familiar?

Music is a wonderful way to help us release our emotions, rather than repressing them. If you are feeling angry with someone, there may be no better way of releasing that anger than blasting an angry song and singing along to it at the top of your lungs! Do it in your car with your windows rolled up, or put on your iPod and sing along as you vigorously scrub your bathtub or floors, or take your music outside with you on a run or a fast-paced walk.

One of my favorite sad albums is Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes. It brings back memories of the confusing days of adolescence, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted from life, and it reminds me of a dear, dear friend who took his life at age 17. Tori Amos' music, for me, brings up feelings of deep melancholy and longing. There are days when it feels strangely good to listen to her music. A 'good kind of pain.' In a way, allowing these emotions makes me feel alive and deeply human.

When I was a teen, I listened to sad music a lot. I read sad poetry and listened to sad music. I felt overall very sad, and I sought out experiences that reinforced this feeling of sadness. As I have grown older, however, I've realized that life was too short to spend so much of my time being sad! Now, every once in a while, I will indulge in the sad, but oddly comforting state of mind Tori's music induces for me. And it is good. But, on a daily basis, I choose to expose myself to people, music, books, and experiences that boost my happiness level! I read books that uplift and inspire me, I gravitate towards people who are motivated, enthusiastic, and happy, and, more often than not, I play tunes that are upbeat and lift my spirits!

My favorite song these days is a song called I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. I've been lucky enough to wake up to this song playing on my radio alarm clock several times in the past couple of weeks, and, instead of pulling the covers over my head with a groan while hitting the snooze button, I woke up smiling and excited to start my day. For the rest of the day, I found myself in an exceptionally good mood! Now, whenever I need a little energy boost, I play Jason Mraz' song and sing along and snap my fingers along to it, and it inevitably makes me smile! Try it for yourself sometime, or pick a song that makes you happy, and listen to it whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, irritated, sad, or just plain tired!

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