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5 reasons why classical music should be part of your music diet

5 reasons why classical music should be part of your music diet

If you thought that classical music was something you got around to only when you reached 60, then you may be missing out on some of the most stimulating and uplifting experiences known to man. But you shake your head with certainty and remind yourself that symphonies equate to sleep medication and concert halls are solely for the lost!

But give it a fair go, and you may be pleasantly surprised. After all, you would do your research on a prospective school for your child, the suburb you plan to move into or the company that you are hoping to find a job in. And you swear by the fact that such research helps you make more informed decisions. So, indulge me for a moment and let us apply that same approach to what could be a potential life changer: classical music.

Let us put aside the obvious benefits that classical music brings to the table – stimulating the brain, improving memory power, exercising the imagination and reducing stress.

Let us instead focus on specific life lessons that classical music can teach us:

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1. Tradition

Classical music celebrates tradition. Brahms owed much of his approach to composition to his idol, Beethoven. Beethoven, in his time, expanded and transformed the musical language that his predecessors, Mozart and Haydn had developed. They in turn, were inspired by the work of Bach and Handel. So this is music that is not ashamed of its roots. This is music that is unapologetic about its heritage. Even contemporary classical music pays homage to the past. In fact, the modern day orchestra still uses for the most part, instruments that had their origins in the 16th century!

Unfortunately, the obsession with the latest fads can often make people cynical about the past. Being “on trend” today becomes such an obsession that we often miss out on the rewards of yesterday’s experiences. Unfortunately, the young are very often suspicious and wary of every institution from the past. Classical music, on the other hand, reminds us that we are all part of a great continuum and we are what we are because of what came before us.

2. Patience and focus

Just as the mystic repeats the sacred chant to reach greater communion with his God, repeated listening to unfamiliar classical music pieces will get us closer to the nirvana they can deliver. But this calls for patience and focus. Classical music is not the trailer; it’s the full feature-length film. It is not the highlights of the Twenty-20 cricket match, but the full five-day test. It is not the comic strip; its the unabridged novel.

We give wine the time it needs to age into that exquisite drink we relish so much; so why not stretch our attentiveness when listening to classical music so we give ourselves the best possible chance to be touched by something truly sublime? Why not develop such an open-minded approach to everything; so we can contend with some of the more unfamiliar and challenging experiences we must all face in life itself!

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3. Symphonic thinking

Classical music helps us achieve what I term ‘symphonic thinking’. While the typical pop song is around 3-4 minutes long, the typical symphony is around 25-40 minutes. And it is not only about the duration. The composers and performers of classical music are dealers in subtleties. There is in this music an emotional and intellectual complexity that is demanding, but also deeply rewarding.

Very rarely is the expression in a symphony in simple ‘black and white’. Very rarely is the experience of a symphony one-dimensional. Symphonies, by their sheer depth and breadth, encourage us to widen our view, expand our consciousness and develop an ‘abundance mentality’. By encouraging ‘big picture’ thinking, they help us extend ourselves to encompass more of life, as it were.

At a time when the media seeks to dumb down every concept and cater to the briefest of attention spans, symphonies challenge us to reach for a richer scope that we are all capable of, if we would only stretch ourselves to discern and enjoy a wider range of emotion and thinking.

4. True collaboration

Listen to any orchestra, choir or chamber music ensemble and one of the most arresting impressions is that of true teamwork. To achieve a unified expression, while playing different instruments (or singing in different voices), with different melodies and at different rhythms, is not a easy task. And beyond the mere notes, there are also potential differences in style and interpretation that each member of the group could have.

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To subsume all of those differences (across extremely passionate and strong-minded musicians) and achieve a unique oneness of utterance is a staggering undertaking! Can this everyday miracle in classical music concert halls teach us to learn true collaboration at work, at home and at play?

5. Discipline and application

To compose or perform classical music requires a level of technical skill that typically demands years of learning and practice. To achieve that, musicians – even the amateurs – must exercise discipline in practice, which is the only way to master their craft. There are no short cuts and any compromise will show up the musician very quickly.

Can we learn to apply ourselves with greater dedication to all those pursuits we believe are worth our devotion?

In the final analysis, classical music is not some fossilized relic or elitist pastime. It has been nurtured by passionate and creative individuals and groups who have often dedicated their lives to creating enduring sound worlds. It can bring us new insights and new thinking if we would only approach it with open-mindedness and enthusiasm. It can stimulate a richer engagement with life. It can help us transcend our limitations. It can help us find true fulfillment.

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Featured photo credit: Piano Keys, Ivan Fernandez

Featured photo credit: Ivan Fernandez via changelessfriend.blogspot.com.au

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5 reasons why classical music should be part of your music diet

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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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