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Top 5 Benefits of Listening to Positive Music

Top 5 Benefits of Listening to Positive Music

Can you imagine living a day without music? I can’t, and I’m not alone. Americans listen to 4 hours of music every day. There’s no other activity that we do that takes up as much of our time as listening to music, besides work and sleep that is. Despite music taking up such a significant part of our lives, we rarely stop to think about the quality of the music. We care deeply about the other things we consume like food and TV. You likely avoid specific restaurants for being unhealthy, and change the channel as soon as certain TV shows come on. Yet, we rarely stop to think about the positive and negative influence of the music we listen to.

“Music can change the world because it can change people” – Bono.

Research confirms this.

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1. Boost your beliefs and ideas

Some of the most damning evidence that music can be bad for you is that music is a popular method for torturing prisoners. This was devised back in the 1950s and is still widely used today. You may be envisioning the sounds of keyboard mashing and car alarms, but in actuality, the top 11 most popular songs used by the CIA  to torture prisoners are songs by mainstream artists. Two of these songs include Eminem’s ”The Real Slim Shady” and “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera. Without digging too deep into how psychological warfare works, the essence is the focus on sexually illicit lyrics and culturally offensive topics. “If you play it (music) for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken,” Sergeant Mark Hadsell, of Psy Ops, was quoted by the BBC news.

Consider the types of music you hear on the radio and watch on YouTube, and how frequently they’re played. Most likely, over and over again throughout the day. Does your own playlist complement your ideals and beliefs or do you just listen to whatever is on? Take a second to think about it before you press play, and reconsider putting your well being into the hands of someone’s playlist or radio host. Positive music is just a click away.

2. The power of lyrics

“Music is processed across all of the brain, it remains in our long-term memory,” – Clement-Cortes.

Music is memorable. It’s designed to be that way through the use of repetition, rhyme and patterns. That’s the magic formula to how we memorize song lyrics. Chances are you still remember lyrics from your favorite songs from high school and a television ad that used a jingle. Have you ever stopped to really analyze the lyrics? You’d be surprised at what’s being stored in your musical muscle memory. “F*&k love, give me diamonds” is sung repeatedly in the chorus of a famous Iggy Azalea song. “You might as well open your legs up and let a *expletive* poke” are lyrics by Lil Wayne. Despite being a fan of both artists, those lines aren’t something I’d repeat in front of my grandma and are the last things I want stored in my brain. So knowing that you’re going to likely remember the next song you listen to, does that change your perception of the music you listen to? There’s enough bad news going on in the world to fill your brain with any more violent, grotesque or sexist thoughts. Instead, let music be your cheerleader by picking songs with positive lyrics. What are some of your favorite songs with positive lyrics?

3. Recalling memories with music

Hello Adele, I love your music but no matter how happy I am, your songs take me into a dark place over some memory from long ago I’d prefer to forget. Even Adele is noted as saying she can’t listen to her own music without crying. Chances are, your brain is filled with songs that are synonymous with a memory, like your first dance, first date and first car. But not all music memories are happy ones. “What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye,” according to Petr Janata, associate professor of psychology at UC Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain. “Now we can see the association between those two things—the music and the memories.”

If the music you listen to is associated with happy memories, then it likely provides you a pick-me-up and encouragement. If instead you’re spending your time listening to music associated with negative or sad memories, you’re unnecessarily causing yourself distress. Stop the whirlwind of negative emotions by ditching your old playlist altogether in favor of creating new memories. As Disney’s Frozen says, “Let it Go”.

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4. Change how the world sees you

If every person had their own personal theme song, it would be much easier to understand them before even starting up a conversation. The power of this is most evident during presidential elections where candidates select specific songs to represent their campaigns. This music becomes synonymous with them personally and their core messaging. The same goes for UFC fighters entering the ring. Music sets the pace and expectation of their fight, whether it be with the intention to motivating themselves or intimidating their opponent. Music has the power of creating association. Beyond just the lyrics having meaning, the musical tone, flow and emotion is just as important. “If we hear things that are in major keys, then we have a propensity to associate those with positive emotion. Whereas we hear things in minor keys — we might associate that more with negative emotion,” says Dr. Amy Clement-Cortes, an assistant professor at the Music and Health Research Collaboratory at the University of Toronto. Music with a positive beat can lead your day off to a positive start, and positive lyrics can lead your mindset to making the right decisions along the way. Do you have a personal theme song? Maybe it’s time for you to find one that represents you now and where you want to lead your life story next.

5. Make unpredictability an opportunity to thrive

It can be incredibly difficult to be happy when big changes are happening around you. Especially at work and in family life. Change can be stressful, whether it’s a new project with a huge learning curve, onboarding new staff or working with people you don’t like. Music has the power of helping overcoming some of this discomfort. Science has proven that music releases dopamine in our system, which makes us happy. According to a post on Discovery News, “People love music for much the same reason they’re drawn to sex, drugs, gambling and delicious food, according to new research. When you listen to tunes that move you, the study found, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction.” Great music can calm you down and encourage you to keep going.

The same is true in team settings. According to “The Mozart Effect“, studies related to people listening to Mozart’s music, listening to upbeat, positive music like that created by Mozart can induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental task. With the right attitude and a positive music playlist to cheer you on, anything is possible.

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Now that you know you’re not just listening, you’re remembering and being influenced, I challenge you to listen to positive music only for 30 days straight. Set yourself up for success by diligently choosing music that will be the soundtrack for your life and success.

Featured photo credit: Karolina Grabowska.STAFFAGE via pexels.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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