Catalyzing Happiness: Music Linked to your Mood

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

Marley’s lyrics are confirmed by a study conducted at Stanford University, which discovered that people use music the same way they use food or alcohol to relieve stress or emotional pain.  Some scientists believe music even predates language, based on flute-like instruments dug up in France, and found to be over 50,000 years old.

From almost the moment we are born, our feelings are influenced by the music we hear. Studies found that five-month-old babies react to happy songs and by nine months they recognized and were affected by sad songs [source: LiveScience].

And, as we grow, the physiological states brought on by music only intensify.

How does music work its magic? One answer lies in a McGill University study in which scientists found the first concrete link for humans between dopamine release and musical pleasure. In the study, researchers were able to link music-induced pleasure with a surge in acute emotional arousal, including changes in heart rate, pulse, breathing rate and other measurements.

Musical tunes featuring a fast tempo and written in a major key have been found to cause a person to breathe faster, which is a physical sign of happiness [source: Leutwyler]. And, sad music, which tends to be in the minor keys and very slow, causes a slowing of the pulse and a rise in blood pressure. Of course, sad music can be as beneficial as happy music, because it can stimulate a good cry or a cathartic release — which can bring about happiness indirectly.

The same studies have found that music activates brain areas associated with memory, which is why songs that remind us of good times (a holiday, a particular person, etc) make us feel happier.

Lastly, music helps make social interactions happier, which explains why music is an essential element of sporting events, birthday parties, and weddings, for example.

A few of my favorite happy songs are:

What’s on your list of favorite happy songs? 

About Stacey:
Stacey Hall, L.S.H., C.N.T.C., is the CEO and Founder of the Hall Institute of Intuitive Wellness and the best-selling author of ‘Chi-To-Be! Achieving Your Ultimate B-All.’ (http://www.chi-to-be.com/blog).  While recovering from a debilitating illness which left her physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and mentally numb, Stacey Hall made a declaration to herself, “I would devote my life to healing my heart. And, as I learned what made my heart happy, I would share what I learned with others to help them heal their hearts, too.” She joins us to share her insights along this journey.

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  • Dankrohn

    Music is a huge and critical part of my life. Too many favorites to list in assorted genres. For a bit of sheer beauty try Ravel’s “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defuncte.”

  • http://How-toBeHappy.com/ TJ Chasteen

    Music is one of the easiest ways to make something we don’t enjoy – tolerable. Whether it is doing the dishes, painting the shed, or driving through rush hour traffic. Now I understand the science behind it.

    Thank you,
    TJ

  • Janet

    Music touches off memories and ingrains new ones.

  • Clay

    Very true, my mood determines the kind of music I want to listen to, and the kind of music I’m listening to can change my mood.

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