Unless you do not have a soul (everybody does, religious beliefs not withstanding) and even if you believe that you do not, I personally believe that things happen in your brain and body as you listen to music whether you like it or not. At least that has always been my personal experience.
Believe it or not, there are folks who have given up listening to music and the result is eventually always negative. Whatever, their reasons for stopping listening to music, they are of course personal, but often not even based in logic. I have seen the result after some years, of folks who used to listen to music and then decide to completely cut it out of their lives. The first thing that usually happens is bouts with serious depression. While there are many things that can bring happiness, music is the one constant and enduring. Money comes and goes too easy, relationships are vulnerable, objects break, events are fleeting, but music is always there, always available in some form or another and costs almost nothing. I’ve even read of suicide attempts from folks who decided to cut music out of their lives because they get so trapped within themselves and all the bad stuff, they feel like they are doomed or cursed all the time because they have nothing that stimulates their emotions and mind in healthy ways. Another thing I notice in folks who give up music is that they actually grow cold towards everyone and everything, almost a numbness. They become very self-centered, unable to have any relationships and eventually just live a miserable existence.
Giving up music can also lead to violence. Because one has no connection to anyone or anything, they are miserable and wish for everyone else to feel the same no matter what it takes.
Here are some examples of how I believe music affects us and if you do some research just starting with Google searches you will find that it’s not just down to a personal belief, but can be scientifically proven.
You might wake up to a song on your alarm clock or have music on while at work or blast power workout music at the gym or while jogging and even attend music festivals and concerts. But did you know that what your listening to or just hearing (if you’re not paying full attention with the act of listening) can actually effect how you act, feel and think?
1) Your mood improves and changes: I can attest to this from before 2013, but research published that year in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows that listening to upbeat music improves mood. Although there is one catch and that is it does not necessarily happen automatically despite our will – it only works if you have the desire to be happy. There is also a separate study that showed that dopamine (the feel-good neurochemical in our bodies) is released when we listen to music.
Music also reduces depression. Of course, this can depend on what music you are listening to. Putting on what sounds like funeral dirges would not be an appropriate choice for example. Music can even help you fall asleep. Next time you feel low, try putting on some spirited classical music or meditative music perhaps.
2) You work better: I’ve always noticed this and had endless arguments with my parents in my young school years about it when I would have music on while doing homework. However, a 1993 study on the effects of listening to classical music (amusingly called “the Mozart effect”) showed that listening to certain classical music such as Mozart could improve standardized test scores. It’s not just classical music either that has this effect. Another study published in 2010 in the Journal Intelligence, showed that people exposed tot music performed better at spatial tasks than those not listening to music and was not dependent on genre.
Again though, the key is that you have to enjoy the music. If you hate classical music or Mozart, you’re not going to get the effect of improved work performance. However, if you love a different genre or artist(s), you’re going to find the effect. So as before, it works if you want it to or like what your listening to.
3)You recall certain memories: Ever listen to or hear a song and get vivid flashbacks? I can sometimes remember where I was, who I knew and what I was doing and what have you when I hear a certain song and sometimes I only have to see the album. Music supports the recall and even formation of memories. Just look at archaeological history. Music was often a form of communication in every culture and even today, music is still communicating thoughts, feelings, etc. You want more evidence? Take a look at the study published in 2011 in the journal Neuropsychologia or watch the documentary called “Alive Inside”.
4) Your skin crawls in a good way: When a song goes in a direction you did not expect such as with a key change, diversion in melody or time signature change for example, you may experience physical sensations on your skin. This only really happens when you are truly listening to music instead of just casual or having it on in the background.
5) You experience changes in blood pressure: Depending on the music you listen to, your blood pressure can rise or fall when you really engage in music. Research presented at the British Cardiovascular Society http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11660663/classical-music-blood-pressure-heart-disease.html showed that listening to music from say, Beethoven was associated with a decrease in blood pressure and a lower heart rate even regardless of whether the person preferred that kind of music. Interestingly, rock and pop either did not have an effect on blood pressure or seemed to increase it either. However, a small study in the journal Heart claimed that listening to fast music was associated with increased blood pressure, while slower music was associated with decreased blood pressure. I can also personally attest to the effects of music on heart rate. When I listen to classical music I like or what is known as “new age” music sans the whale song and that crap, I do note a lower heart rate after a time. I would not use music as a problem solver for chronic hypertension or something, but it can be a subtle assist. Part of the reason for this effect is due to the fact as pointed to earlier, that music can alter mood.
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