How music makes us happy
Fact: When you listen to music you like, music evokes positive emotions (1). Playing it combats stress (2). Music therapy has been shown to improve moods, raise motivation, reduce anxiety, and even “fight depression, insomnia, and addiction” (3)(4). It brings people together, and literally causes our brain to release dopamine (5). Basically, music is an essential tool in bag of Hap tricks.
Why Music Makes Us Happy
It’s nice that science confirmed what we already knew. Most of us naturally use music to enhance our mood. When I’m happy, I put on the Gypsy Kings and think of my times in Spain and Latin America. When I’m pensive, I put on Leonard Cohen and reflect on society. When I’m partying, I crank Deadmau5 and dance. The studies agree that we have to like the music in order for us to feel better. Listening to music we don’t like can make us feel even worse.
Music also makes us happy by bringing people together. Positive Psychology specialist Martin Seligman noted that social ties are an extremely good indicator for happiness (6). We create new social ties through music—going to concerts together, singing together, dancing, talking about our favorite artists. How quickly do you ask a new acquaintance what kind of music they listen to?
Music is a wonderful tool for self expression. I write more songs when I’m experiencing negative emotions. Putting them into song allows me to express these feelings healthily and move beyond them when I’m ready, instead of repressing them and letting them sneak out when I least expect it.
Dancing will definitely make you happier (7), and certain kinds of dancing will even make you smarter (8). Although you can dance without music, who wants to? Bobbing your head, humming along, tapping your foot, and all out jiving usually accompany a good song.
Use the Music!
There are so many ways music can make us happy. Crank the stereo and belt out your favorite song. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Gotye or Madonna; the special combination of melody and beat speak the words you can’t.
Now you’re totally present. You’re fully conscious in the moment, and you find some small sense of peace. In four minutes, you’ll still have to write that email, or figure out how to pay rent. Right now though, music is all that matters, and it makes you happy.
Jordan Myska Allen is a musician and very happy dude. You can read more about him here.