Have you ever seen people at a concert, singing all of the words to a song at the same time? Maybe with their hands up in the air, swaying back and forth all together? It can be a truly spiritual experience.
Because as Sir Paul McCartney put it: “That’s the power of music.”
Music can evoke emotions in us on a visceral and primal level, much like a certain smell will instantly transport us back in time to when that smell represented something important for us. There are certain songs that when I hear them I can instantly feel the same feelings I was feeling as a pre-teen, most of them happy, but some of them I have to turn off if they come on the radio because I certainly don’t need to relive the angst associated with them.
Have you ever been moved to tears because of a song? Has a song ever made you want to stand up and cheer? Does hearing a particular song make you feel closer to a friend or family member? Do any songs make you feel inspired or strong or unstoppable?
Athletes have been known to use certain songs to pump them up before a race or tournament or big game. The image of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and his giant headphones comes to mind. Ancient warriors would sing songs and beat out tattoos on drums to help get them ready for battle. And there’s a reason why babies fall asleep so easily to lullabies. Indeed, music contains powerful magic inside of it.
So if you don’t have a magic wand handy, I would suggest that you turn to music when you need help in choosing happiness for yourself. Figure out what are your “battle songs” for when you need confidence to put yourself out there to try something new. Learn what your “salve songs” are, for when you need to calm down and escape from the stresses that life is throwing at you. Keep as many songs as you want handy for different situations that you are dealing with, and feel free to change them up as you’re introduced to new songs that evoke significant feelings within you.
Even more fun is to have your own “theme song.” I saw this concept years ago on Ally McBeal. Tracey Ullman was her therapist and suggested that Ally adopt a theme song for herself when she needed to be reminded of her own power and worth. She suggested that Ally listen to it, or play it in her head during upsetting or stressful situations to help turn herself around and feel better. The Tracey Ullman character assured her that it would work, and that she herself had utilized a theme song since she was ten and that “it still works!”
I’m here to tell you, IT DOES! I have my own theme song (well, 2 actually) and every time I hear them I’m re-energized, I’m encouraged, and my spirits are instantly lifted, no matter what else has been going on. It’s kind of amazing actually.
Shakespeare famously said, “If music be the food of love, play on.” Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the language of mankind.” Henry David Thoreau said, ““When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” And to quote Dumbledore, “Ah music,” he said, wiping his eyes, “A magic beyond all we do here.”
I could go on and on about the transformative power of music, but let me close here by saying, “Music will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Keep that fountain of joy alive in you whenever you can. Choose your music to help you choose happiness.