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This Is Why Classical Music Lovers Are Smarter

This Is Why Classical Music Lovers Are Smarter

Everyone has heard of that parent who makes their infant child listen to Mozart out of the hope that he will be smarter and thinks it is absurd. But the reality is that scientific studies show that music, and particularly classical music, could really help improve our brains and learning.

Unfortunately, people have a tendency to misunderstand the actual science, which results in two problematic results. Either you pop in a CD of Mozart’s songs and listen to it for a few hours hoping to be a genius, which is absurd. Or you look at that absurd scenario and conclude that music does not help improve your brain at all, which is also incorrect in a different way. A proper look at the mental benefits of classical music gives a much more nuanced picture.

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No, listening to Mozart for hours upon hours will not mean the difference between a child being a dunce or the next Einstein. But if you understand what classical music does to our brains, you will understand that it can make a small, if noticeable difference.

Nothing Happens Overnight. Benefits Accumulate over Time.

As the BBC notes[1] the idea that listening to Mozart improves intelligence has been around since 1991 in response to a study published from the University of California. But as so often happens in science, a researcher makes a modest discovery only for journalists and the common people to wildly blow those small claims out of proportion. All the researchers found was that for a short period of about 15 minutes after listening to Mozart, young adults performed menial spatial tasks better.

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But after that study, scientists took a further look at the effects of music in general and classical music in particular on our brains. Some studies found that individuals memorized objects better or performed better on learning tests after listening to classical music. And in 2004, a study which examined rats’ [2] brain activity after listening to Mozart found that “had increased gene expression of BDNF, a neural growth factor, CREB, a learning and memory compound, and synapsin I, a synaptic growth protein.” In laymen’s terms, the brain created chemicals in response to the stimulation of Mozart’s music.

Not Only Does It Make You Smarter, But Also Feel Better.

In addition to boosting intelligence, further studies have shown that listening to classical music can have other benefits. Classical music can help relieve anxiety as shown by how doctors today use music therapy to help treat disorders such as dementia and poor sleeping. While music is obviously only one aspect of the overall treatment, it is clear that even if you are not convinced that listening to music makes you smarter, there is no doubt that it can help improve your health in other areas.

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Choose the Right Music for Yourself. It Works Only When You Enjoy It.

Everything listed above should make it clear that listening to classical music is beneficial. But does it necessarily have to be classical music or even just Mozart’s music? Will listening to Brahms or Tchaikovsky or even rock music create the same effect?

The answer, to some degree, is yes. In general, music acts as a stimulant on the brain. According to Inc., listening to music causes [3] your brain to build a path between your memory and emotional center, keeping your brain active. But the distinguishing factor is not any particular form of music, but what kind of music you like. If you find classical music boring, it is not going to be much of a stimulant.

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There are some unique qualities of classical music which do make it more effective all other things being equal, but that principle can also apply to 15-minute manifestation [4] or some other similar technique. Classical music is more musically complex compared to rock or pop songs, which means that the stimulant effect is greater as your brain processes these songs. It also is a better relaxant, which is an underrated aspects of how music can help improve learning. Rather than directly boosting your brain’s power, classical music can create a more soothing environment which is more conducive to thinking.

But do not take this to mean that you should force yourself to listen to classical music if you find it boring and uninteresting. Music, no matter from whom or where it was created, is always enervating and beneficial to your brain. Forcing yourself to listen to uninteresting music will eventually turn yourself off from doing it completely, especially as the benefits and only accumulate over time. If you would rather listen to death metal than Mozart, do not feel ashamed and turn up the volume.

The debate over how music affects the brain will not end with a few studies, but the research shows that classical music can benefit your brain and overall health. But don’t take this to mean that listening to one symphony will permanently boost your IQ by 10 points or that you should confine yourself to classical music. Music is meant to be enjoyed and loved, not treated as the equivalent of a vitamin supplement.

Reference

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Last Updated on January 6, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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