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7 Reasons Live Music Will Help Make You A Happier Person

7 Reasons Live Music Will Help Make You A Happier Person

As I’ve mentioned in other articles here – I’m a near constant live music-goer. So much so that the fact that I’m only going to two shows this week is extremely unusual for me – someone who is much more used to attending three to five in the average week. If I don’t go to a show for more than three or four days I get really antsy and irritable. One thing people often ask me is “Why? Why do you go out and spend sometimes eight or more hours in some sketchy neighborhood to watch some bands you’re not sure you’re even going to like?” And I’ve mulled long and hard over this question – and I think I’ve managed to come up with seven reasons as to why I find live music essential.

1. Live music lets you meet new people

This point is particularly important to me because I work from home and thus don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet people otherwise. Live music gets you in a friendly environment where people all have something in common and love to talk between sets. Most of my closest friends are folks I’ve met at shows – and why not? We’re all into the same thing – rock and roll, and if that’s not the glue to start a relationship I don’t know what is. The point being if you want to get out and meet people – what better way than to go to a bar, watch a band and meet a bunch of people who are interested in the same thing as you?

The best part is that a lot of these shows – especially on the underground tend to attract some very interesting people who work in fields beyond the arts. There’s a reason that a lot of the greatest figures in history were interested in the arts – that’s where all the cool people go! And by meeting these people (As I discussed in my article on making interesting friends) you are immediately more likely to become a more interesting individual yourself. It’s a win-win situation and leaves you profiting on a personal and emotional level and can guide you even into new career fields!

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2. It can be a cleansing experience

I mentioned in the intro to this piece that if I don’t attend live music at least once every few days I get really antsy – and I think that might just be a reflection of music addiction. After all – with the prevalence of streaming most of us are listening to music for at least a few hours a day – so why not extend that and spend time in the live experience? One thing I’ve found is that being drenched in sound and being away from all of our electronic notifications functions as something of a mental reset. Countless studies have shown that it’s good to be detached from electronics for at least a short time and live music gives you a time to focus purely on sound. It’s really strange but also very reassuring – for perhaps half an hour at a time you are allowed to leave behind the cares of the world and instead revel in something we all love.

This is part of why I get upset when people text at shows – it takes away from the otherworldly power that music can have. We all need to check out of this layer of reality every once in a while if we wish to maintain our sanity, and in my opinion live music is a great, chemical free, way to do just that. It gives you a chance to find space – almost like meditation. So next time you go to a show, trust me, you don’t want to be texting, you want to be cleansed by the music and feel yourself becoming stronger through the power of beautiful and gloriously emotional sound.

3. It allows you to discover the world

One of the things that I most value about my career is that it lets me travel and discover new places in the context of music festivals. But it’s not only music industry professionals who fly all over the globe for music festivals – a lot of people use it as an excuse to discover a new region of the world. Why not base your next vacation around a road trip down to South By Southwest? By exploring the globe you can become a more established and worldly individual simply through the depth of the experiences you’ve had. It gives you something to save your money towards and to get excited about. In a society defined by increasing lethargy what better way to have a good time than to kick it across the country for loud tunes with friends new and old?

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In the last couple of years I’ve traveled heavily – attending events all over the world and I have tons of other cool events coming up in the next year that will allow me to crisscross the country in the name of rock and roll. And guess what? It’s probably the most empowering and inherently satisfying thing that I have ever done. I’ve found that a lot of people are just looking for an excuse to travel and I’ve always felt that music was one of the best excuses to do so. More and more people are attending music festivals every year and more and more of them are travelling thousands of miles to get there – why not hop on the bandwagon?

4. It can improve mental health

There’s no end to the list of studies and books that talk about how music can improve your mental health. Personally as someone who has struggled with depression and being on the autism spectrum I find that music can help reduce a lot of those tendencies. Hell – the great Oliver Sacks even wrote a book about it, Musicophilia, and if you want info right now then check out this great article on Psychology Today that really delves into how music can help you out. It’s shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that music is often views as one of the keys to mental health.

And after all – isn’t depression what fuels most music anyway? Legends ranging from Bob Dylan to Pearl Jam have had to deal with the eternal struggle of existence and have found their salvation in music. The world can be a dark and scary place and comforting yourself with music is perhaps the single best thing you can do to help yourself carry on through the fire and the flames. I mean – music therapy is an established medium and live music is a key aspect of that – so why deprive yourself of something that could help you face every day with a smile?

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5. You get a unique set of life experiences

Hanging out at shows gives your life a totally different flow than the average individual. If you regularly attend club shows you’ll probably find yourself at some point hanging out with one of your favorite bands and learning the ins and outs of what it means to be a part of the underground. There is a very specific etiquette that you find at club shows and becoming exposed to that allows you to discover a whole range of experiences. One night you might end up helping a band carry their equipment to the van, another night someone who thinks you’re friendly might have you run their merchandise stand in exchange for a t-shirt. These are the things that help to make underground music so exciting – the sense of community.

Beyond that – because of the high concentration of artists, drug addicts and generally weird people at concerts crazy things sometimes happen. You find yourself engaging in all sorts of exciting and quasi legal adventures simply by being at the show. It’s part of what makes live music so exciting and vibrant – it’s utterly and painfully real so just about anything can happen, and if you’re ready to handle the excitement then you may very well be in for the ride of a lifetime. The sense of chaos and wonder that defines live music is endlessly entertaining to nerds like me and gives you a chance to be a part of the human experience on a very primal level.

6. It allows you to grow as an individual

Now I readily admit that this entry ties together several of the last few entries but I think it’s important to emphasize. Every one of the things mentioned above help you to grow as an individual and become a more interesting person. Maybe a part of it is my own biased opinion, like I said, I go to a ton of concerts every week and in a month attend more shows than most people do in a year. But that being said, look at any one of the above points individually and I think it’s hard to deny that each and every one of them helps you to become a more interesting and developed human being.

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Growing as an individual is after all essentially the end goal of life right? I’d imagine that most of you want to grow old and die as someone with rich experiences and lots of friends all over the world. You want to be considered to be an interesting and engaging individual with a lot to share, and pretty much every single one of the points mentioned above will help you with that. Growing as a human being and being ready to share your own experiences with the world is an extremely exciting thing – and if you want to share your joie de vivre with others, what better way to do it than to be a more interesting and developed human?

7. You enter a new community

I debated long and hard as to whether I should put this one number 6 as the final point on this article – and then I realized that the music community is a large part of why I’m still alive today. You see – when you start attending live music on a near constant basis you find yourself bumping into a lot of the same people, especially if the shows you are attending tend to be in the same genre. Eventually you start to be friends with these people – beyond that you start to engage in the activities that go beyond just going to shows. Not only (As discussed at the top of this article) do friendships form but you find yourself to be a part of something greater than yourself.

The music community is one of of the largest, most welcoming, and tightly knit communities in the world – it’s practically a religion. And with social media being as closely tied to music as it is it’s always easy to find people interested in the same kind of stuff as you – even if they live on the other side of the globe! You find yourself constantly hanging out with bands and even letting them sleep on your floor and you end up getting to participate in the arts on a very visceral level. What I’m trying to say is that despite the lack of money and existential terror that the music industry has found itself in in recent years, it still may very well be your escape and path to freedom.

Featured photo credit: Alberto Carrasco-Casado via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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