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Science Finds Listening to Live Music Can Be Just as Effective as Medicine

Science Finds Listening to Live Music Can Be Just as Effective as Medicine

The number of learned and creative people who extol the power of music is many. Everyone from Friedrich Nietzsche to Bob Marley has a pearl of wisdom to offer about the beauty and power of a great tune.

But it is not just patrons of the arts who believe this. A plethora of recent studies have demonstrated what everyone from Albert Einstein to Taylor Swift knows to be true: Music is excellent therapy.

A study released in the Music Therapy journal published by Oxford University in 1983 certainly confirmed this hypothesis.

The study included 50 patients who each suffered from cancer. The ages of the patients ranged between 17 and 69. During the study, some patients were given music to listen to through a listening device. Others were allowed to listen to live music.

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After the 25 minutes of allotted music, the patients took a questionnaire that profiled the state of their mood. This was compared with the profile taken before the patients listened to the music.

The patients who had listened to live music reported that they felt better physically and that their mood had improved. The results also suggested that therapists can use live music to help relieve the tension associated with serious illness. The patients also reported having more vigor than those who listened to recorded music.

Researchers stated that “The human element inherent in live music is believed to be important.”

Music is not just excellent therapy for cancer patients. Parkinson’s patients also saw improvements in their disease when they listened to music. Some patients have shown real improvements when they listened to music that had a steady beat. The improvements were both emotional and physical. According to recent research, some patients see improvements in walking and other physical activity when listening to music.

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Come again?

That’s right, there are people working to make the melodic dream of music therapy a reality.

The name of the group is The Sync Project. The Sync Project will pair a user’s music service, like Spotify, with a wearable body monitor, like Fitbit.

The site then tracks the changes in the user’s heat beat and other data. The data is compared with the user’s playlist. This should demonstrate how the music they listen to during concert tours physically interacts with their body. The group collects all of the data from users and then passes it on to scientists who employ it in their own research.

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The biggest roadblock for music therapy research is that the issue is very subjective. Just as how one person could love rap music but hate country and another person could love country and hate rap, music tastes and its effects are hard to pin down.

Ketki Karanam, the head of science innovation at The Sync Project, put it this way: “The evaluations of what music does in the body were based on subjective responses and lacked the objective real-time measurements of physiology.”

The platform is still small. It launched at South by Southwest in Austin earlier this year and is still in the testing phase. However, it hopes to roll out its program to the public at some point.

Meanwhile, current methods rely on established research to pinpoint the things that many people already experience when they listen to music. One researcher wrote that “music can evoke activity changes in the core brain regions that underlie emotion.”

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It may come as a shock that the lyrics to Pharrell’s hit song have scientific foundations. However, if you are one of those people who feels compelled to dance whenever it comes on the radio, this research may not be a surprise after all.

Featured photo credit: MercyMe via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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