We all know from lived experience that music can have a profound effect on our moods, but if you were in any doubt that rocking out to your favorite band or chilling to your perfectly curated Friday afternoon playlist can help pump you up or wind you down, there is also science to confirm it.
A recent Wharton study even pinpointed the best "power songs" to up your productivity (get out the Queen and 50 Cent), while happiness researchers have confirmed that listening to music is a simple way to lift your spirits without leaving your desk. Now, new science agrees that just getting out the headphones is great, but also suggests an easy way to increase the mood-improving effects of listening to your favorite songs.
Get the Most From Your Favorite Playlist
The first finding of two studies out of the University of Missouri will not come as much of a surprise. In order to get the biggest lift from music, you should--big shock!--select upbeat tunes. Granted, no one is winning a Nobel Prize for the insight. But the second conclusion is more useful.
Lead author Yuna Ferguson and her team divided participants into two groups, both of which were given the less-than-painful task of enjoying some happy tunes for 15 minutes. However, one group was told simply to kick back and relax, while the other was asked to actively focus on the music's effect on their emotions and try to feel their mood improve. Was the music making them happier, they were instructed to ask themselves.
Turns out, being a little more active in your appreciation of your favorite tunes pays dividends. Those who focused on the music's impact on their mood reported feeling more of a happiness boost than those who simply passively listened to the same songs. A little additional attention, in other words, multiplies the benefits of your most cheerful playlist.
Of course, it is possible to take this too far and start actively worrying about your mood and exactly how much benefit you're seeing rather than just singing along with that catchy chorus. This is obviously counterproductive. "Rather than focusing on how much happiness they've gained and engaging in that kind of mental calculation, people could focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey toward happiness and not get hung up on the destination," Ferguson stresses.
Want to get even more benefit out of your music? My Inc.com colleague Laura Garnett recently offered a great suggestion: Go ahead and dance! Science also shows that regular dancing helps protect against dementia, isn't bad for your waistline, and as we all know, can be a whole lot of fun.
Help out a stressed fellow business owner--what's your favorite go-to happy song, artist, or album?