Does Music Lift Your Spirits?

Once when my daughter was in college, we were driving down the freeway to some event. She was justifiably upset about something that had happened to her. We allowed her to rant, we validated her right to be angry, we agreed that an injustice had occurred, we offered solutions, but she was locked in a loop of frustration and despair. So, I snuck her favorite CD (the Kinky Boots soundtrack) out of the storage box, slid it into the player, and selected one of her happy songs. As soon as it started to play, she got quiet. Within ten seconds, she was humming. Within 30 seconds she was full-on singing and dancing in the backseat. The power of music.

The other night at my women’s group, one of the members asked about our associations with music, and I confessed I haven’t been tuning in much lately. Since I started all this mindfulness and meditation study, I’ve stuck mostly with quiet. I’ve never been one to play background music anyway (I’m too auditory and find it distracting) unless I’m doing housework. But after our conversation that night, I remembered hearing on a Hay House interview you have to “turn on” happiness, and songs are a way to do that.

I’ve taught myself how to start the day with grounding and gratitude exercises, but that hasn’t seemed to be enough to lift my mood lately. So, this past week, I found a playlist on Spotify called “Happy Songs” and another called “Guilty Pleasures.” Now, after I ground myself, I listen to three upbeat songs as I’m making coffee and doing stretches and starting my day. I don’t choose the songs. I let them surprise me. And you know what . . . it helps!

It sure beats turning on my news app, which used to be my habit while making coffee. Nothing like trying to anticipate a wonderful cup of joe while you’re listening to how the world is burning down. It even beats listening to my self-help or inspirational podcasts right off. Because even though they’re helpful and reassuring, they still remind me I have problems that need to be fixed.

I used to listen to my podcasts while doing my exercises, too. You know, multitasking. Then my physical therapist mentioned that might not be a good idea. She thinks we need to concentrate and relax when we, say, lift weights. Not just so we do it right, but so we’re not tensing at the news or even a suspenseful story rather than focusing on something that is good for our bodies.

I talk often in this blog about the power of art and how happy it makes me to listen to live music at a venue. In that case, I’m all in. I’m there to hear the music. I’m sitting in my seat and maybe enjoying a cocktail and leaning in to the experience. Somehow music had become something to “look forward to” rather than something that is always there, always accessible to lift my mood. I’ve always said I know when something is bothering me because I don’t sing in the shower, so it’s not like I haven’t been aware in a very personal way that my spirit needs music. I had just sort of forgotten that. Music is a tonic, not just something to be appreciated now and then.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

I’m making some new playlists to start my day. Anyone have any suggestions for songs?

By Teresa R. Funke

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