We have a soundtrack of our lives. The score is made up of memories intertwined with melodies that imprint on us and can bring us back in a heartbeat at the chorus of a song. Music sets the mood for any occasion, and is used to bond people together, to create love, to form friendships. When we create a happy music playlist, it sets the mood.
Right now, I’m listening to The Stones’ Paint it Black. You?
One of my favorite assignments to give early on in therapy is for my clients to create a “Happy Music Playlist.” The main purpose for this is not so much for them to listen to it all the time; I’m actually interested in getting him or her to focus on a happier time, happier songs, and the way that they felt when those songs were playing. We can all remember and identify those songs that never fail to let us down, that cheer us up, and lift our moods. We can remember feeling lighthearted, maybe a warm, sun kissed elbow on an open car window, the wind flying in our hair while we sing along. Or dancing to the songs at some point in life.
So how do you do this? Well, it requires a lot of soul-searching and [fun] work. Pandora has been around for years and I was so loyal to it until I met Spotify. Spotify breaks the music up into mood, activity, genre, and things to discover based on what you like in a more user-friendly way than Pandora and saves individual songs to a playlist of your very own.
Think back over your life and experiment with decades, what you were listening to, and focus on the ones that made you happy. Or it could have been phases that you went through, like listening to the Beach Boys, or Beastie Boys, or Boyz-To-Men, or Beatles, for example.
You could even remember soundtracks to movies that made you feel good— “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is one that is underrated and awesome.
Think of family music, maybe the music you listened to in the car as a kid. Even if it isn’t something you pick right away, those types of songs tend to be soothing, like a warm familiar feeling of coming home, if that is a good pick for you.
Lastly, funny music. The music that isn’t to be taken seriously or is just so outrageous that you can’t help but laugh. “The Humpy Dance,” Weird Al songs, the “Macarena,” and “Boy Named Sue” are just a few that come immediately to mind. There are so many more!
So when you’re done, use it! Share it! Sing it! Go to the playlist when you are in a bad mood and find those songs that make it hard to stay in that mood. Keep adding to it all the time, because it’s for you. About you.