In my first post on this topic I started to introduce a small but potent arsenal of tactics that can help us flip the bird at adversity when it strikes, and stop negative emotions in their tracks.
Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing a couple more strategies that can assist when put into action, and put you back on track to living the biggest, boldest life possible. Amen to that!
The Power of Music, Mantras and Making Notes….
NUMERO DOS. Music
As the saying goes “Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.” (Congreve, 1697).
As I have mentioned in an earlier post my adoration for music is what keeps me breathing through the good and the bad. It’s such a powerful medium of expression that overflows into everything I do, and I could not live without it. Listening to music, playing an instrument, writing music…..it all hits that sweet spot in its own special way.
There’s no doubt that when feeling blue, music has the ability to calm, soothe, and light us up. I once read some wise words……that you shouldn’t listen to morose or melancholic music when you’re feeling sad. Makes sense really although at the time I was doing the opposite. Reveling in sadness and allowing it to take me over. Letting myself wallow in the misery of breakups and things gone bad, that would pretty much be my script. Listening to the saddest, most heartbroken tunes in my collection, drowning my sorrows and emotionally purging and torturing myself with ‘what ifs’ and ‘why me’s?’.
You ever done that?
Now I choose not to travel down that path and make a conscious choice that whenever I am in a vulnerable mindset to only listen to tunes that make me happy for whatever reason. This means staying away from the Buckleys, Winehouse and the Smiths. No ‘Adagio for Strings’ or Brahms ‘Requiem’ or Bach. No Radiohead. No Billie Holiday or Nina Simone or any other broken-hearted soul. Not while fragile, no – silly idea.
Happy places for me are songs that evoke great memories, songs that are a cheesy remnant from my youth, or songs that my parents used to play while I was growing up, when times were free and easy. Yep, that would mean lots of 70s contemporary, Creedence, Springsteen, Dylan, Elton John and a feats of others. 80s one hit wonders, hair metal, and synth pop. Lotsa bad 90s. Instant cures for me.
Whatever it is for you – whatever makes your frown turn upside down – hold onto that bunch of songs or that one artist or group that makes you feel bouncy and alive. Who gives a shit if no-one else likes it or its considered passé. If it makes you smile through your tears, if it melts your anger into calm blue ocean, if it turns your frustration to hope, you need more of it in your life! Playlist it in all your media players, wake up to it in the morning, make sure it never leaves your memory or your life. I have several ‘super happy fun time’ playlists in my iTunes. Some of them are for specific times- I have one for the mornings, when I need really energetic, uplifting stuff to get me awake and motivated. Some are for days when I want to get transported to that ‘I feel so happy and inspired and ready to burst’ zone. Whatever gets you going, whatever makes you grin and think ‘life ain’t too bad….It’s actually pretty sweet’. That’s where it’s at.
Its been researched and documented that music seems to tap into the circuitry in the brain that has evolved to drive human motivation – any time we do something our brains want us to do again, dopamine is released into these circuits. So fuel your dopamine naturally, turn off that toxic television and crank those tunes, pick up that guitar or smash the hell out of a drum kit. There’s a reason why soooo many people find music healing and a massive emotional release. Music will open your mind and help shift your perspective on whatever burning issues are worrying you. Not to mention fire up your memory centre, which when triggered can bring a lovely sensory rush of happy times cascading back to you. And that’s a great thing.
Making notes: Journalling , gratitude lists
“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
Ahhhh writing, such a healing act! All throughout my life I’ve had a special kinship with putting ink to paper, or fingers to keys, and letting a wave of thoughts and desires rush forth from my synapses.
Journalling, documenting our lives, making observations or just plain stream-of-consciousness jotting have been going on for a long time for a very good reason: writing helps us discover who we are.
It may sound twee but writing a daily gratitude list every morning can be an good way to kick start (or reflect on) your day. It’s such a simple thing to do but actually going though the motions of committing something to paper can really solidify all the things you are feeling happy about. It really helps to drown out the ‘noise’ of everyday life- the little things that get bigger, and get to us, if we let them.
Try writing 5 things you’re thankful for or things that made you happy today. It’s a small change, but it helps to put things in perspective and makes you humble and grateful for the things you do have (rather than those you don’t) and process your emotions better.
I really can’t speak highly enough of the healing powers of putting pen to paper. Give it a try if you haven’t yet. Write a list of people you dig in your life- and why. Write a list of places you must travel to. Or things you’ve just really gotta do in your life, no matter what the financial/ time/ other constraints may be. Set them free. Write a note to your future self discussing a couple of things that are GREAT right now. You’re the youngest you’ll ever be. You might as well document it!
Lesson here: pick up a pen and go with the flow; tune into the magic of rhythm and melody and harmony and sine waves. Pull out those old dusty records and let them see the light of day again. Go to a live show at your local and support some local musos. Get lost in music and let your worries flow onto paper.
Sing, dance, explore, write it out! See where it takes you…..
Please feel free to leave a comment if you’d like to share any of your own insights – I’d relish your feedback.