Music is one of the great and mysterious things on this Earth. Everyone likes it, and everyone has his or her own distinctive perspective on what makes it good, bad, powerful or trashy. In college, we seem to embrace it more wholeheartedly than any other time in our life. Greek life seems to have its staple pop songs you always hear blaring from Jordan Avenue houses on spring days. Black Audis pour the latest Future from cracked open windows while sitting on 10th street. Jordan Avenue houses only ever seem to blare pop music and Future is all I ever hear playing from Audi cars. We as college students and people seem to pick one genre or type of music and stick with it.
Music has a powerful effect on our daily lives. The average American listens to music four hours a day, according to Spin. Music is used to help Alzheimer’s patients fight the symptoms of the disease. It is the primary thing we use to get to know one another for the first weeks of most any relationship. Studies show that music will even subconsciously affect our behavior. In stores that sell primarily wine, customers were more likely to buy more expensive wine when classical music was playing than when top 40 was playing.
Subsequently, music also has a powerful effect on our brains. When mapping brain activity of patients while listening to music, the parts of the brain associated with emotions were consistently activated. Studies show our brains tend to mirror the things we give attention to, so when a song is portraying sadness, the neurons in our brain will mirror that sadness. This is true universally. When people never exposed to western culture heard western music for the first time, they still responded the same way emotionally to the songs that others did.
We should utilize its power to make us more self aware and emotionally intelligent people.
Emotional intelligence has been talked a lot about in the last few years. The term was coined in 1990, and refers to one’s ability to understand their own and others’ emotions in a way that allows them to make better decisions. It has been widely acclaimed as one of the most valuable tools in communicating, making decisions, and dealing with the stresses of everyday life.
The first and perhaps the biggest thing you can do to develop such an important skill is understand your own feelings. Being able to identify and consciously pick out the feeling you have allows you to see how they affect your decisions and what causes you to have them. The majority of our ability to interpret our feelings comes from whether we were allowed to understand and come to terms with those feelings in our childhoods.
If music can allow us to feel emotions we don’t have conscious access to otherwise, listening to music that triggers those feelings could be a huge tool in better understanding ourselves and why we react to the world the way we do. The more we are in tune with what we feel in all of its diversity, the better we can decide what is best for us and respond to our feelings in the most positive way possible.
So if you only love the deep bass beats of Future, try listening to a little acoustic Ben Howard. If you are obsessed with the pop sound of Katy Perry, open your world to the eclectic sounds of Twenty One Pilots. The more types of music you really allow yourself to listen to, the more parts of yourself you’re going to feel.