Most of us know the power of music from experience. We hear a song that brings us straight back to high school or a Christmas carol that reminds us of a long-ago family tradition. We also have that one (or maybe more) song that can bring us out of a funk and get us back on track to slay all the items on our to-do list.
She Blinded Me With Science
In case you’re wondering, there is science behind this as well. Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands discovered that music not only changes your mood, it also changes your perception of the world. Their study showed that people see happy faces when they listen to happy music, but if they listen to sad songs, they are likely to see sad faces.
Why does this happen? Researchers have also found that “listening to music induces release of dopamine in the brain striatum. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter involved in more tangible pleasures associated with rewards such as food, drugs and sex.”
The music therapists with Reno-based Note-Able Music Therapy Services (NMTS) use music to help clients with a variety of challenges, including developmental delays, addiction, sensory impairments, autism, traumatic brain injuries, dementia, mental health issues, neurologic diseases and physical disabilities. Music therapists also work with hospice patients, veterans, at-risk youth, medically fragile individuals and more.
"Music can influence our mood in profound ways,” shares NMTS Executive Director and music therapist Manal Toppozada. “And the music we choose is an important factor in creating a positive shift."
I Gotta Feeling
We surveyed our Facebook friends for their musical choices for getting their groove back. Perhaps there’s something here you can add to your positive music repertoire.
- Cory F. — Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. “I had to do three months in physical rehab in 2011, and it had just the right rhythm and perfect cowbell to keep me moving when I was too whipped to stand up. When I hear it now, I want to go lift weights or something.”
- Natalie F. — “Get Rhythm by Johnny Cash makes me want to dance and remember to shake the blues away!”
- David H. – “Ludwig von Beethoven’s 4th Movement from Symphony No. 9 (Ode To Joy) is a testament to the power to overcome challenges to create a work of such magnificence that it will endure long after we are all forgotten.”
- Parker M. — Good Day Sunshine by the Beatles.
- Theresa C. enjoys the Feeling Happy playlist on Apple Music Pop.
- Candee C. — “Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus is cheery and bubbly and it always cheers me up!”
- Annie W. — “Dogs barking Jingle Bells, because how can you not laugh at their joy?”
- John S. — “Maybe Tomorrow by Stereophonics has a great cruising rhythm that just floats through a reflection on the goodness of life when things go awry. And You Get What You Give by New Radicals is a high energy, enthusiastic, pick-me-up song about grabbing life. My son, Noah, and I bond on this song.”
- Edgar S. — “Ambition by Wale is a song about showing people the ambition to win. I use it as a way to get out of my own thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity.”
- Michael C. — Let it Go by Dragonette. “The title kind of says it all. Also Soak up the Sun by Sheryl Crow. It has the same sort of ‘just cool and everything will work out’ vibe.”
- Susan M. — Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison.
- Inez S. — “How about a go-to genre? Classic punk. Especially The Ramones and The Clash.”
- Steven H. — “Watching my little girl dance to Baby Shark can change the world.”
- Kim R. — La Grange by ZZ Top. “I’m not 100% sure why. It makes my butt move in my seat.”
- Eric M. — Chick Chick by Wang Rong Rollin. “There can be only one.”
- Nicole M. — “Waaay too many to name. I seriously have a whole playlist aptly named Uppers for this very reason.”
- Peggy G. — Backroads by Rickey Van Shelton. “When he sings, ‘I've got the radio blasting, and the window rolled down. I'm cruising the backroads on the outskirts of town,’ I join him and feel much better.”
- Dani R. — I’m Good by the Mowglis, Juice or Truth Hurts by Lizzo, If I Can’t Have You by Shawn Mendes, Mr. Brightside by The Killers, anything by Foster the People or Florence and the Machine.
- Cierra H. — “Currently it's Girl by Maren Morris. The message is basically that everything is gonna be okay and that's what I like to hear when I'm feeling down.”
- Christina C. — The Climb by Miley Cyrus. “It reminds me at even my darkest moment if I keep pushing I will get there. And Nickelback’s Never Again is a song about domestic violence. It reminds me of how far I have come."
- Earl D. — Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys. “Every negative thought takes flight when I crank that one up.”
- Tina M. has a playlist dedicated to being happy: “L.I.F.E. (Love Is For Ever).”
- Jennifer M. — Here I Go Again by Whitesnake. “Does it really need an explanation?”
- Carol S. — “Flying Saucers by Nina Hagen is goofy funny, has a hopeful message and you can dance to it.”
- Brian B. — “Lately I find myself listening to Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony. It's got a driving rhythm and a positive message. Plus other people smile if they catch me singing along.”
- Darlene B. — "Daft Punk's Get Lucky makes me so happy and I get high dancing to it."
- Susan B. — "This month it's Norah Jones singing Ripple by The Grateful Dead. Last month, Vampire Weekend's This Life. And of course anything by the Miami Sound Machine or Vivaldi. Why? To feel alive or peaceful or sad, as background music. And always to dance."
- Nettie O. — "Perhaps corny, but I have a corporate client whose office workers have pretty intense phone conversations with their clients. These remarkable souls have Pharrell Williams' Happy playing in the background a lot and it's infectious. Can't help dancing a little!"
- Julie M. — Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream by Grateful Dead. “It makes me smile and shake my bones, every time.” Julie has also created her own “Makes Me Happy!” playlist on Spotify.
- Rachel C. — Beethoven's 7th Symphony. “It puts me in a good mood whether I want my mood changed or not. The last movement dances.”
- Stefanie U. — Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars. “I have to smile and dance whenever I hear it.” Jennifer W. also put in a vote for this one.
- Francine B. — “Polyester Bride by Liz Phair reminds me not to settle on ANYTHING!”
- Kaya J. — “India Arie gets me out of my head and reminds me of what I really am.”
- Michelle P. — Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Fleetwood Mac. “This is one of JP's and my songs. On one of our first drives together to see an elderly lady I worked for, it came on and we both instantly considered how blessed we were to be together.”
- Kenny B. — Doses and Mimosas by Cherub.
- Terri L. — “Anything Kenny G, but I love Silhouette. I find it relaxes and calms me down.”
- Heather A. — Headphones by Matt Nathanson.
- Julie M. — Rikki Don’t Lose That Number by Steely Dan and “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin.
- Kim T. — A Beautiful Day by U2. “It’s tied to a huge career accomplishment.”
- Deb C. — “When I need to shake off the blahs, Green Day’s American Idiot will be blasting. It is anthemic, fist-shake inspiring, and brings out my rebellious side which neck-punches the blahs to oblivion.”
- Jan M. — “I listen to the XM Spa channel in my car. It is soothing, comforting and keeps me relaxed between appointments. There is no talk, no commercials. I like the meditative environment. A lot of the music gives me goosebumps. It helps me smile, breathe deeply and clear my mind.”
- Bridget L. — “Hair metal or 90s pop-punk.”
- Heidi H. — Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim.
- Chuck A. — Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory or This is Me from “The Greatest Showman” and Time for Livin’ by the Association.
- Sarah M. — Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones.
- April C. — Save me, San Francisco by Train. “I have no idea why. I don't have a particular affinity for the city.”
- Heidi P. — Live Like a Warrior by Matisyahu. “My friend even made me a plate with the lyrics written on it.”
- Kim T. — “Yeah by Usher always makes me smile because it was used in the movie ‘Hitch’ where Will Smith is teaching Kevin James how to dance.”
- Adair P. — “Titanium by Sia and David Guetta because it gives me energy and it makes me feel strong and powerful when I'm feeling old and weak.”
- Terri H. — Kickstart my Heart by Motley Crue.
- Bob S. — “Feeling Groovy by Simon and Garfunkel, but I am old.”
- Adair P. — “I like Highway by Audioslave just because it has a cool vibe and when I've had a hard day I like to drive with the windows down and listen to that.”
- Lisa P. — Cowgirls Don’t Cry by Brooks & Dunn, featuring Reba McEntire.
- Kenny B. — Love You Like a Love Song by Selena Gomez.
- Michelle P. — I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash. “Pardon the cheese, but I LOVE THIS SONG, especially after coming out of a dark, difficult time. It’s always helped me along the way.”
- Randy L. — Good Times by Chic.
So there you have it. Songs from many different eras and genres to help you shake off the blahs. What is your personal anthem?