Within each one of us resides a story where music influenced our emotions. Music, by design, has the power to overwhelm, to anger, to provide solace, and to empower. We can pinpoint instances where music made us feel things we do not want to feel at times and places we did not want to feel them. Imagine driving home and being so moved by a song that you are forced to pull over so you can cry, call your mom, or pray. We can also credit music with transforming us into more confident happy, and courageous people.
Research in the fields of neuroscience and neurology explains this link–the marriage of music to emotion. Music has been found to affect levels of various hormones in our bodies and brain, including cortisol and testosterone, which are involved in stress and aggression, respectively. Music has also been linked to triggering the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with nurturing behavior and endorphins, the “happy hormone.”
What this research implies, then, is that, as listeners, we can play an active role in controlling how we feel, at any given time, if we create playlists with a particular emotional goal or mood in mind. Use the following steps to begin to leverage music to your emotional advantage:
Experiment with music: Create an artist and/or genre station on sites like Pandora and pay close attention to how an artist’s repertoire or genre makes you feel. Also ask your friends for suggestions as to their favorite songs. Be sure to ask them how those songs make them feel.
Create playlists based on the emotion that you want to feel: Instead of categorizing your music by year, artist, or genre, consider creating playlists based on the emotions that the songs evoke (i.e. power, peace, confidence, assertiveness, melancholy).
Match your goals with an appropriate playlist: If you are trying to start a business or preparing to ask for a raise, pull out those “fight songs” to get in the mindset to win. On the other hand, if you are looking to increase your patience, forgiveness, and understanding, tune into the melodies and lyrics of your “empathy songs” to prep you to navigate hard conversations.
Decide on the playlist logistics: Think about how often you need to play these songs (i.e., weekly, daily), where you want to play them (i.e., in the car, in the bathroom, at your desk), and when you want to play them (i.e., right before a big meeting, the night before a performance).
BMWK Fam: What are your go-to songs and why? How do you use music in your life to make you more confident?