Music has often been called “the food of the soul”, and many listeners can attest to that sentiment. It can cheer you up when you’re sad, invoke memories, inspire creativity, give you energy for a better workout, and make you feel calmer during stressful times.
Unlike many other things that make you feel good, listening to music doesn’t have negative repercussions if you do it too often (unless the volume is too loud or you skip work to listen to it!) Music can put you in contact with potential friends or business associates, lower your blood pressure, or just make you happy.
How Music Makes You Happy
No one is happy all the time. Happiness comes and goes, depending on what is going on in our lives at a given time. Some people are more satisfied or content with their lives overall than other people, but this isn’t the same as happiness. Happiness is a transient emotion.
The neurochemical dopamine is triggered when you eat a good meal, have sex, sleep, or engage in any pleasurable activity. Research conducted at McGill University in Canada studied patterns in the brains of adolescents who listened to and experienced happiness from listening to music.
Researchers used two different scanning techniques - functional magnetic resonance imagining (FMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to scan brain activity
in eight study participants while they listened to music. The subjects also filled out questionnaires about how they felt while listening to the music.
Dopamine was released in the brain’s striatum at the height of emotional response to music, according to the PET scan. A part of the brain called the caudate was activated during anticipation of emotional arousal. The nucleus accumbens was engaged during the actual emotional experience.
Listening to music increases emotional arousal and may change your pulse and breathing rate. Some people report having chills, goosebumps, or shivers when listening to music that has an emotional effect on them. During these changes, scientists found that blood flowed to brain regions responsible for dopamine release.
Dopamine is released in your brain when you listen to highly emotional music, or music that gives you chills. Dopamine receptors become full in these instances. If you listen to music that doesn’t move you, the dopamine receptors are unaffected.
Research shows us how and why music moves us, but the emotions brought about by the songs we listen to have an immediate, ultimately positive, effect on our mood. Even listening to a sad song exposes dormant emotions that may spark long-last memories. If the memories are positive, they can reconnect us with friends or family. Negative emotions may serve as a form of therapy.
Everyone has a song (or several songs) they go to that rekindle memories, make them feel better, or inspire them. Make a playlist of these songs and listen to them whenever you need to boost your mood.
Using Music to Feed Your Energy, Creativity And Spirit
Find music that makes you feel a certain way. Some music gives you the energy to jog or bike a long distance, while quieter music helps you study. Athletes often use rap as their workout music, while classical music is used by students for study.
Music helps you perform better at your chosen activity, provided you find the right music for the activity. A song that makes you mind wander when you study defeats the purpose of the activity. Music that calms you and engages the parts of your brain associated with learning and memory will help you achieve you goal.
Use music as a therapeutic or inspirational tool throughout your day. It may take a bit of investigation before you find the right songs for different parts of your day. A jazz instrumental may help with meditation or unwinding at night after a long day’s work. An up-tempo dance tune may help you get through an afternoon of housework. An optimistic musical anthem can make you feel confident enough to deliver a speech at a conference.
Music can help you get your mind off what’s bothering you and reframe your thoughts and spirit to be more productive. Figure out how you want to feel – relaxed, energized, creative – and find the right music to put you in the mood.
Sad Songs May Be Good for the Soul
The negative emotions a song kindles may help you come to grips with problems from your past, or help you recall events to help you through therapy. Some people purposely listen to sad songs and have a good cry to purge themselves of buried negative emotions. After the crying session, the listener feels relieved and their spirits improve.
A joint UK-Finnish study analyzed three surveys regarding sad songs and their effects on listeners. Pleasure, pain and comfort were the three most popular responses to wistful music.
One theory is that listening to a sad song makes us feel better because we’re listening to a tale of woe by someone who has a worse life than we do. This is called downward social comparison. To some extent, people experience this phenomenon by looking at social media posts or listening to a friend talk about their problems.
Another theory states that people listen to songs that remind them of their current life situation. The songs help them work through certain situations, or let them release bottled-up emotions in a cathartic way.
However, some scientists think sad music is connected to the physical processes in our minds and bodies. The chemical prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland, and it is believed to reduce grief. (It is also tied to sexual satisfaction.)
Listening to a sad song prepares your body for a distressing event. When the event doesn’t occur, the dopamine in your body is still there and needs to be processed somehow.
We perceive sadness and tragedy differently in a song, painting, movie or novel than we perceive a real-life tragedy. A 2014 study showed that sad or baleful art and music is thought to be more beautiful and culturally significant its cheerful or neutral contemporaries.
Sadness is well-known as an impetus for artists, and a melancholy feeling often leads to great works of art, music or literature. Listening to sad music may inspire you to create music or art of your own.
We all react to sad music in slightly different ways. While it may spark creativity or catharsis in some people, it may cause depression or even anger in others.
The Effects of Happy Music
Listening to any kind of music can promote overall happiness by acting as a kind of musical therapy. It may come as no surprise that listening to happy music is scientifically proven to make you happier. A University of Missouri study showed that actively seeking out happy songs can make up happier. According the study, though, you need to really pay attention to the music. If you put it on in the background, you won’t reap the benefits.
You also need to start out your listening session with the goal of being happier. If you don’t, the music won’t boost your mood, researchers found. Study subjects had short-term happiness and increased happiness over a two-week period when they listened to happy music on purpose. It’s important, the researchers noted, not to try too hard to be happier – that is just as bad as not trying at all.
Intentionally trying to be happier will lead to more happiness, provided you have positive experiences (even if they are small things, like winning $2 in the lottery). Actively seeking to be happier isn’t selfish behavior. It can lead to a better social life, better income, more fulfilling relationships, more charitable giving and improved physical health.
All the scientific studies about music improving happiness and your emotional and spiritual state are good news for people who often feel sad or overwhelmed. Listening to music is a cheap and easy way to soothe your soul. You don’t need to take anti-depressants or go to a therapist if you’ve got a temporary case of the blues. Listen to your favorite songs to increase dopamine production and make you feel good.
The way humans react to music is helping researchers learn more about the neurochemical dopamine and how it influences happiness and behavior.
Music and Spirituality
The spiritual nature of music affects every listener differently, and it has little to do with a person’s religious belief. You can feel a soaring joy and sudden peace from listening to music even if you’re not at a religious ceremony or meeting.
Spiritual music is part of the human experience, and it nurtures and encourages bonds between people, whether they are attending a formal gathering or just spending socializing with each other. Music unifies people at festivals, churches, clubs, concerts and parties. It can bring strangers together and help them form new friendships, or it can strengthen relationships between family members and friends.
In a community or formal spiritual setting, music helps a group of like-minded people express their beliefs, customs, history or philosophy. It enhances traditions, whether they are years old or centuries old. Music can express religious faith or help people share and remember experiences from the past.
Music touches people spiritually as well as emotionally. It can be a tool to deepen your religious faith or make you feel more connected to life and the world around you. Music can often touch what we can’t verbally express and puts us closer to the emotions and memories we may have neglected through the years. Music awakens feelings we may not express often because of the hectic nature of everyday life. It can lead us to epiphanies about our lifestyle or behavior faster than more structured methods of self-realization.
Some people experience self-described ecstasy when listening to music at a religious event, but you can experience this intense spiritual “out-of body” feeling listening to any type of music in any situation. People have described feeling ecstatic after listening to classical or even rock music. The ecstatic feeling has nothing to do with outside influences like drugs or alcohol; it is purely due to the music and how it affects the individual.
Your Diet and the Right Supplements Can Also Feed Your Soul
Along with exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet, music can contribute to a better mood and overall well-being
We know eating healthy foods helps your physical and emotional health. Eating right, exercising and reducing stress are cited as the best ways to stay healthier, but these “golden rules” help ease your soul, too.
You can be more attuned to your spiritual self when you feel physically healthy, and eating a clean diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds will keep your body in excellent shape. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to benefit from a healthy diet. You can eat organically-raised beef and poultry or fresh-caught fish.
Dark leafy greens, pure, filtered water, strawberries, blueberries, dark chocolate and fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi are just a few examples of foods that will help you raise your spiritual vibration and soothe your soul.
Choosing the right supplement can also aid your emotional, physical and spiritual health. There are so many supplements being sold online it’s hard to find one that’s safe and effective. Look for time-tested natural supplements with wheatgrass for best results.
A wheatgrass-based product offers many antioxidants and amino acids. Wheatgrass is comprised of chlorophyll, which is loaded with magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamins A, C,E and K, as well as a small amount of B vitamins. Wheatgrass has eight essential amino acids your body can only get from food.
Wheatgrass Love’s Happy Girl Mood Enhancing Supplement is formulated with 100% pure wheatgrass. You get all the health benefits of wheatgrass plus a proprietary blend of herbal ingredients proven to regulate mood and overall health. Small amounts of ginger, gotu kola, ginseng, fo-ti and Hawthorne berry, among others increase the nutritional value of the wheatgrass.
Learn more about Happy Girl and other Wheatgrass Love products here.