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Do You Have What it Takes to Work from Home?

Photo courtesy of Megan Ann

These days, more people are leading a more independent work life because many start-ups and even some older and larger corporations are allowing a number of their employees to work out of their homes for part of the work week. Some companies have even gone a step further by adopting some form of virtual office structure – which allows them to save money on rent and utilities while maintaining a flourishing business.

For entrepreneurs and freelance workers like myself, working from home means less hours away from family (I have a zero minute commute, each way), virtually no wear and tear on a vehicle, possibly maintaining only one family car, and flexible hours. Rearranging my schedule can happen when I need to, even if it means working into the wee hours of the morning. I can then immediately slide right into bed – because it’s fifteen feet away.

In case I’ve made it sound like a life of luxury and leisure, let me reassure you that working from home presents plenty of challenges. Most of us in the working world today grew up thinking that eventually we’d be working anywhere but inside our own homes, so it’s a different way of thinking about employment. Besides making changes to your mental image of what a work day looks like, anyone considering self-employment or telecommuting will also have to prepare themselves for a whole new way of working.

Firstly, there are no distractions in a home office, and yet there are a million, depending on your point of view. There won’t be any coworkers sidling up to chat with you every morning at 10 AM on the dot.  However, with a simple flick of the eye, your laundry pile’s in view, and, “What would it hurt to throw in one load?” That line of thinking can lead you to a spotless house…and no paycheck to show for it.

Working from home requires that you set your own boundaries and take your own breaks. Your best bet is to set up a home office and close the door while you’re working, to stay focused on your daily tasks. Since the only water cooler excitement occuring at your home involves trying out your new Brita filter, set specific times to stop working for a few minutes. Do some yoga or other exercise during these breaks.  You’ll need to get your blood flowing throughout the day, just as you would if you worked in a traditional office setting.

It’s easy to feel isolated from others when you don’t leave your house all day.  A few times a week, call up a friend who is free to talk for a few minutes.  Perhaps you’ll be Skype chatting with your in-office team as part of your job description, which will help you feel in the loop. Take a walk every day with a neighbor or have regular lunch dates with a family member who lives nearby. Finding small ways to stay connected to others is essential to your sanity and will ultimately make you more productive, too.

As much as possible, stick to a schedule that works for you. While you will probably be able to set your own hours, if there is no rhyme or reason to them, you’ll never settle into a routine. Routines allow us to form good habits, and good habits mean working more effectively.

In my opinion, the pros definitely outweigh the cons of working from home, but it’s a delicate balancing act that requires a certain level of restraint and self-control. If you possess neither of those two qualities, you might be better off clocking in at a job where someone else can set your boundaries for you. However, if you think you have what it takes, nothing’s stopping you from exploring a career that lets you work outside the box.

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Should You Use Your Connections to Get Ahead?

Photo courtesy of Tiare Scott

I recently had a conversation with one of my doctors in which he discussed the phenomenon of having the letters M.D. after his name. He expressed amazement at his ability to get the best seats at the opera, being shuffled to the front of the line at the DMV and getting his daughter an appointment with a busy specialist when no appointments were available for 6 months. We both wondered out loud whether or it was right for him to take advantage of his status as a medical doctor, and it really got me thinking. Should you use your connections to get ahead?

The old saying goes, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” and the sentiment behind that saying used to be that if you knew the right people and used them to your advantage, you were most likely a jerk.

When I was younger, I agreed with that sentiment. I felt that if you were talented, intelligent and resourceful that you would eventually live the life you wanted based on your merits alone. Today I believe that using your connections wisely is a huge testament to precisely how talented, intelligent and resourceful you are.

What follows is a list of helpful ways to use who you know (and who they know) to get you closer to many of your goals and to make life more enjoyable along the way.

  •  Use your network only when necessary. If you tap your connections all the time, it will become clear that you cannot accomplish anything without their help.
  •  When you do ask your network of friends or professional connections for help, try to limit it to asking for information, phone numbers, submission   guidelines, or tips about who you can get in touch with to accomplish the goal at hand.
  •  Make sure that you follow through and actually use the information that you have been given.  Remember that the person you asked for information will most likely find out if you did nothing with the tips he gave you, and the next time you ask, he probably won’t be so forthcoming.
  •  Never forget to say thank you to anyone who does offer you help, whether it is in the form of a job interview, the phone number of a contractor who will work at half-price if you mention the name of your connection, or, in the case of my physician, better seats at the opera.  Send a thank you card if you think it would be appreciated, but make sure that your thanks are graciously given in some way.  People generally enjoy helping others – but only if they get something out of it too.  Usually, they feel pretty good about helping someone who is extremely grateful.
  •  Try to vary who you reach out to.  Repeatedly asking the same person or small group of people for favors is definitely going to get old quickly. If your network is small, make a point of growing your connections daily.  One great way to do that is through the use of social media networks.  Outside of the virtual world, go to the right social gatherings, and, if you’re invited to dinner with someone who might potentially be able to help you in the future, make every effort to show up.

Of course, using your connections in life will only get you so far, and the real work (putting those connections to use) has to be done by you, and you alone.  With that being said, networking, and the benefits that come from it if done correctly, can benefit you greatly.  The next time you need help with something that might be made easier by someone you know – remember this: the worst they can say is no.

 

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Make Fear Less of a Factor in Your Life Equation

Photo courtesy of epsos.de

You know those long e-mail questionnaires we all used to send around to our friends under the guise of getting to know people better? Loaded with questions about our physical characteristics, likes, dislikes, and aspirations – they presented us with the perfect opportunity to talk about our favorite subjects – ourselves.

With changes in technology happening faster than the blink of an eye, email surveys quickly became yesterday’s news. Personally, I found them tiring pretty much from their inception, and I had a reason for my dislike. It was simple, really. I used to be uncomfortable in any situation where I didn’t have all of the answers.

I suppose you might ask why I wouldn’t have all of the answers to an email survey about my height, hair color, and whether I’d rather be a pirate or a ninja. Obviously, those weren’t the questions that tripped me up (ninja, naturally.) It was the deeper questions I never felt like answering, like whether I was in a happy relationship or what I hoped my life would look like in five years.

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in avoiding harsh realities about my life.  In actuality, there are thousands of people trying to avoid facing feelings of discontentment and many other disappointing realities in their lives, and for most of us, the driving force behind our avoidance is the four-letter f-word.

FEAR.

Every day, countless people bury themselves in avoidance because they fear that facing the problem could cause them to experience failure of some type.  Fear is a very powerful emotion that can keep us from shooting for the stars and achieving our ultimate goals that would skyrocket our happiness level.   Allowing our fears to control us prevents us from living the lives we really want.

Fears of abandonment, job loss, going into debt, rejection, intimacy, not measuring up, and even a fear of success itself are all common and natural. Usually, feeling scared keeps us safe and prevents us from doing things that often might end up causing us harm. There are times, though, when it’s in our best interest to feel afraid of something and to pursue it anyway.  The hard part is knowing when to listen to our fears and when to challenge them.

It’s quite possible that, unless you feel quite substantially miserable in your current life circumstances, you’ll be less likely to pursue your dreams due to a fear of the unknown. Even if your life as you know it is far from your ideal life, it’s familiar and safe. Many people have a desire to live a different kind of life, work in a different field, or be married to someone different, but the fear of what it would take to get there is simply too strong.

I’m a prime example of a person who faced a great deal of fear in order to live the life I really wanted. The life I had before wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my ideal existence. It was SO SCARY taking that first step in the journey to where I am now! But once I took the first step, the momentum kept me moving in the direction I should’ve been heading all along.

Will you let fear control your decisions or can you handle feeling afraid of the fall but taking the leap anyway?

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The Friendship Test: What’s Your Score?

Photo courtesy of Kiran Koduru

As I started thinking about Thanksgiving this week and all that I have to be thankful for, my family members naturally sit at the top of my list. However, my friends are a close second, and for many people, they tie for first. As we think about why we are thankful for the amazing friends we have, let’s take a moment to reverse it and think about what our friends want and need from us. After all, this Thanksgiving day, those same friends are going to be sitting around a table (maybe yours), thinking about why you  make their lives more enjoyable.

What makes you a good friend? Do you know? Take a look at this list of traits that people treasure most in their nearest and dearest companions, and see how you measure up :

  •  Trustworthiness – This personality trait covers a lot of bases and, when it comes to friendships, most people are looking for someone who will keep their secrets and keep their promises to be there when times are tough.
  •  The ability to forgive – Of course it is important that friends don’t do wrong to each other on purpose, but when you are friends to the end, you’ll be going through many life events together and mistakes are unavoidable. True friends forgive easily because they have a solid foundation based on a connection that goes beyond trying to be perfect. A good friend understands your faults and flaws and loves you anyway.
  • Self confidence - While this may not seem like a necessary component of being a good friend, a person with a high level of self-confidence is more likely to be giving, loving, and generally more fun to be around.
  • Reliability – If you’re showing up for your friends late all the time, you’re sending them a message loud and clear: Their time is less important than yours. Make the effort to be on time more often, and let your amigos know they’re worth it.
  • Willingness to give slack – Long-lasting friendships can span lifetimes if you treat them right. As we know, time brings struggles of all shapes and sizes. When your friend is facing something challenging and asks for a little slack – give it.
  • Going above and beyond - Friends will go to the limit and beyond when a friend is in need. Are you willing to go to extraordinary lengths to help, even if it inconveniences you greatly?
  • Taking one for the friendship – Sometimes you might be called on to take the fall – or the blame – in order to save a friend’s hide (or reputation.) Are you willing to put a friend’s reputation before yours in times when it might really make a difference?

Of course there are about a hundred other good qualities that lead to great friendships, like having things in common, having fun together, and having similar goals and aspirations. This Thanksgiving, let your friends have one more thing to be thankful for by making sure you ace the friendship test. If you don’t ace it, at least put forth the effort to make sure you consistently do the best you can. Your true friends will be willing to cut you some slack.

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Afraid to be Alone? Learn Why and What Can Help

Photo courtesy of Matt Janicki

My old dog used to get so upset when I left the house that he’d start crying and howling if I so much as touched my shoes or looked at my keys. Admittedly, I thought he was being more than a bit dramatic about things.

Then I had children, and I learned that babies do it too! Infants go through a very distinct phase of not wanting to be away from their parents when they develop the concept of object permanence - the knowledge that objects and people don’t disappear when out of sight. Infants from age 10 months to 3 years may put up quite a fight any time they are asked to separate from Mommy or Daddy. I experienced this with both of my children; however, one was much more anxious than the other.

Traditionally, diagnosed cases of separation anxiety have been limited to young children, pre-teens, and pets (usually dogs).  A dog is a pack animal and it goes against its nature to be left alone. Human infants are learning object permanence, and adolescents are going through a lot of transitions, during which anxiety is common.

But what if you don’t fall into any of the above categories and you’re still extremely distressed when faced with being apart from a loved one? In the 1990s, Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder became recognized as a specific mental disorder because of psychology pioneer Vijaya Manicavasagar.

If you’re suffering from Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder, you’ll exhibit some of the following symptoms:

  • Major feelings of distress when thinking about being apart from an attachment figure (usually this is a spouse or friend)
  • Excessive worry about this person when you are apart
  • Extreme fear of being alone
  • Fear of going to sleep alone or inability to sleep away from home; insomnia
  • Nightmares about being alone or being separated
  • Headaches, stomach pains, vomiting or dizziness when anticipating separation from the person to whom you are most attached

In your efforts to make small but significant changes in your life, the stress and fear of being alone is definitely something that you should address. Being overly attached to someone as an adult is hard on relationships and individuals.

I’ve recently met several people who were really struggling with being alone, and the suffering of their partner was what was I noticed first.  Most spouses simply can’t deal with such neediness and many turn away from the relationship. Ironically, many people with Separation Anxiety have trouble forming lasting relationships.

Any type of anxiety is something that can be treated successfully. If you or a loved one is suffering from feelings of excessive fear and nervousness that are out of proportion to the situation at hand, don’t be afraid to turn to a professional for help.

I did, and it made a major difference in my life. The right medication combined with talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy eased my anxiety and helped me start functioning normally again. In your journey to take control of your life and get on the right track, remember that asking for help is a very courageous thing to do, and  in the case of a mental disorder, it will make all the difference.

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The Vote is in: Strangers Often Nicer than Friends

Photo courtesy of Susan Babbitt

I’ve been totally awestruck by the plethora of good samaritans who have been helping people recover after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. I became more and more interested in the situation as rescue teams from all over the country came to our aid. As I sat at a red light one day, my jaw dropped as a fleet of Mississippi patrol cars and rescue vehicles went past, speeding north, where the damage was the worst.

On top of what I read and witnessed about those highly damaged areas - people continued to ask if I needed any help, asking what they could do if my home or family had suffered any damage.

Thankfully, although we were right on the edge of disaster, my town was barely affected by the storm at all.  I did what I could to help those who were greatly affected by Sandy, but continued to be genuinely astonished by the simply Herculean efforts put forth by some of the volunteers.

One thing that seemed noteworthy to me was that a huge percentage of the people reaching out to me - offering help, prayers, good will?  Were complete strangers.

Now – don’t misunderstand me here – friends and family checked in too – but I was literally inundated with a huge number of concerned people that I simply didn’t know.  I found that interesting and confusing, and I wanted to learn more about this – the kindness of strangers.

Most of us have heard a friend complain that her spouse or significant other takes her for granted, ignores her, or pays more quality attention to other people.  On a related note – many times people talk so poorly about a family member that you’d think they were discussing a mortal enemy. Avoiding phone calls, skipping out on family events, screaming matches, name calling and blatant disrespect are all common behaviors among some families. What amazes me is that these very same people are more than willing to go above and beyond for people they don’t (or barely) know.

The main psychology working behind this behavior is the belief that family members and spouses can’t reject us, no matter how poorly we treat them. Of course, this isn’t necessarily true – especially when it comes to married couples, as evidenced by the divorce rate.

But what else is at play here?  During my research on the topic, I learned that the ‘kindness of strangers’ phenomenon occurs more often in people who were taught as young children to treat strangers with a high level of respect.  These same people also often view their spouse or significant other as a virtual extension of themselves – and those with low self-esteem consequently end up treating their spouses as poorly as they treat themselves.

There’s also something known as the ‘closeness-communication bias’. Psychologists have found that, although partners usually think they are communicating their wants and needs well - the truth is that many couples are interacting at or below the level of people who have just met.  This communication breakdown occurs when people spend so much time together that they stop taking the perspective of “the other person.” When couples and close friends talk, they often have an unfortunate ‘illusion of insight’ which leads them to leave out critical details that would not get left out while talking to a stranger. In short: we end up explaining ourselves and behaving ourselves better with strangers, because we make so many assumptions with those closest to us.

There is so much to be gained from the kindness of strangers. I’ve been completely fascinated to learn what motivates us to help people we barely know more readily than we’ll help our own family members and our husbands and wives. While the kindness of strangers has literally helped millions of people who were left devastated by Hurricane Sandy, what we can learn from their kindness and their behaviors can even help us in our close relationships. Since we’re all working to be as happy as possible, naturally we want our loved ones to reap the benefits of our happiness, too.

And maybe the best way to do that –  is to treat them like complete strangers.

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The #1 Secret to a Successful Relationship

Photo courtesy of Pedro Simoes

The custom of the bridal shower originated in 16th or 17th century Netherlands, and began in the United States in the 1890s. Since that time, brides-to-be across the nation have been receiving advice from their shower guests about just what makes a marriage last. Ranging from silly suggestions and recipe recommendations to counsel about cooperating and helpful hints in the bedroom, there has never been a lack of advice for the soon-to-be wed.

What follows is a compilation of some of the best advice that most successful (and happy) couples have taken to heart:

  • Overlook imperfections, flaws and shortcomings - In three words: Pick your battles.
  • Have an active sex life – Sex, cuddling, kissing, holding hands – all of these are a definite ‘must have’ in a healthy relationship.  Don’t feel like having sex but your partner does? Do it anyway. It’s worth it, trust me.  Physical intimacy brings emotional intimacy and a deeper closeness.
  • Listen. Healthy relationships include a lot of conversation.  Not much is more empowering than feeling listened to. By taking the time to listen intently to your partner, you validate what he or she has to say and you show that you are willing to accept another point of view without attacking or interrupting. After you listen carefully, make sure to talk openly yourself!
  • Take care of eachother – Find out what your significant other finds nurturing and do it regularly.  Maybe he or she loves to have back rubs after a long day at work.  An easy way to discover the best ways to nurture eachother is to make lists and then exchange them. Small, simple expressions of love like doing the chore that he/she hates the most can go a long way in a long-term relationship!
  • Fight fair – While you need to be honest and open about what bothers you about your partner, it is of the utmost importance that you learn to control your anger while expressing yourself.  Never resort to name calling, accusations, or generalizations, and don’t dig up past mistakes.  Being mad at your significant other can be normal at times, but to express your anger by yelling, storming out, or being direspectful can do permanent damage to any relationship. (SEE BELOW)
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  It’s more than just a song, you know. Being in a relationship guarantees that conflict will arise. It comes with the territory when two people begin interacting so closely every day. From day-to-day annoyances to child discipline strategies, conflict is a necessary element of being in a relationship. When that conflict arises, a successful couple will find ways to talk it out as calmly as possible. Happy couples never disrespect eachother.
  • Forgive eachother – If one of you slips up and doesn’t follow one of the above relationship rules, the other must find a way to forgive (relatively) quickly so that less significant mistakes aren’t the cause of relationship demise.

With all of that being said, the number one secret to a successful relationship is actually quite simple: there is no secret. Although there are some general guidelines to follow that will definitely lead you and your partner in the right direction, every couple is different and will have slightly different needs. What’s important is that you take the time to find out what your relationship requires to stay happy and healthy, for as long as you both shall live.

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Clean Your Windows for a Better Outlook

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed recently, it’s that negativity seems to be a trend that’s quickly rising in popularity. I see it daily on the Internet, I hear it at my local grocery store, I listen to it on the radio and watch it on television. I rarely even turn on my TV, but when I do, I want to watch something funny and lighthearted at the end of my work day. Instead, I click from channel to channel, only to find more and more men and women berating eachother, talking badly about themselves, and having repeated pity parties.

I’ve been mulling this over for awhile, but I am finally able to put it into words: Precisely when did it become cool to be a drag?

When I check to see what’s new on Facebook, I’m bombarded with negative and self-depricating status updates that are filled with unfulfilled dreams, complaints about traffic, sarcastic and bitter comments about parenthood.

I see the same things in my real life, too.  I regularly tell my family and close friends to speak more highly of themselves. What we say and think about ourselves becomes our truth.

If you’re looking out at the world through dirty windows, nothing looks pretty, but if you take some time and make those windows shine, suddenly everything will sparkle.

If your view of yourself is distorted, put on a pair of rose-colored glasses from the Dollar Store for awhile and see if they help.  At the very least, they’ll make you giggle when you look in the mirror.

Here are a few other things you can do to try to make a shift toward a better outlook in your everyday interactions:

  • Take an honest look at your negativity. Own up to it, and see if you can figure out where it is coming from.
  • Try to recognize that being negative can have a real impact on those around you. You may be making yourself unlikeable.
  • Write down your negative thoughts, like, “Now that she did that, she is dead to me.” Turn it around into something like “All friends have disagreements.  I’m sure we can work it out.”
  • When you have a negative thought, turn the images in your head into a funny cartoon. Make it absurdly over-the-top so that you can’t help but recognize how silly your original negative thought was.
  • Any time a negative thought enters your mind, close your eyes for a moment and imagine that thought inside of a giant bubble.  Exhale, blowing that bubble, and the negative thought, far away.
  • Practice positive self-talk every day. Do this by reminding yourself what you are good at, what you do like about yourself, and repeating a positive mantra while you look in the mirror.
  • Smile at strangers. Say thank you more often. Being friendly and smiling are easy ways to make you feel better about yourself and your life.
  • Do your best not to spend too much time with other people who live in houses with dirty windows (especially if they refuse to clean them).

Taking a fresh look at life (and yourself) can be so uplifting that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.  I guarantee you’ll keep your windows streak-free once you realize how great the world looks without all of that unsightly dirt getting in the way.

 

 

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How to Turn off Auto-Pilot and Live Your Life to the Fullest

Photo courtesy of Bing Ramos

On the journey toward living with mindfulness and balance, it’s important not to slip into auto-pilot too often.  Much like arriving at a familiar destination in your car and having no idea how you got there, living life on auto-pilot steals moments right out from under you. It’s so easy to zone out, and it’s ok to let it happen once in awhile, but for the most part, living mindfully means paying attention to every moment we are lucky enough to experience.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time creating effectual habits in order to become more productive, and that type of automated thinking, in the appropriate settings, is actually good for my brain and allows me to function better professionally. Habitual thinking occurs when the brain becomes so accustomed to certain tasks that performing them becomes automatic, leaving us able to concentrate on more important things. Examples of beneficial habits include exercising, flossing your teeth, and taking your vitamins every day.

A problem arisis when the brain slips into automatic mode too often, leading to lost life experiences. In order to use your inner capacities for awareness and insight, it’s important to focus on “being” rather than “doing.” Living mindfully means letting your mind rest in each moment as it comes, watching your thoughts and reactions to all that life has to offer.

If you’re finding it difficult to shut off auto-pilot and be more present in your life, here are ten simple things you can do to get started:

1. Appreciate the things others do for you. Start taking notice of the small favors people do for you. By telling my husband how much I appreciate what he does, I’m more in tune with how happy he makes me feel.

2. Start listening. Admit it: when your kids (or sometimes your friends) launch into a long story, it’s easy to stop paying attention. Instead of formulating your response, sit back, watch the person’s body language, and listen.

3. Sit with your body; quiet your mind. You can do this at any point during the day. Take a break from what you’re doing, feel the space your body is taking up, and think only of your breathing.

4. Be more aware of your posture. Becoming more attuned to where your body is in space can turn a slouch into a ramrod straight spine. I have personally grown a full inch since posture became a priority.

5. Think of those who are less fortunate. When you’re facing a hurdle, take a moment to imagine how it would feel to be homeless or seriously disabled. Then turn your focus back to your life, and grasp the full greatness of what you do have.

6. Practice progressive relaxation. You can combine this with #3 when you have time. Lie down in a comfortable position. Tighten and then systematically relax each muscle group.

7. Eat slowly. Allow your food to sit on your tongue longer; put your fork down in between bites. Enjoy the way your food tastes, feels, and smells.

8. Drive under the speed limit. By making a concious effort to move more slowly, you’ll realize that life doesn’t have to be so fast paced, leaving you more capable of enjoying the scenery.

9. Recognize that answering your cell phone is a choice. So many people answer calls, text, or read facebook updates while engaging in face-to-face interactions with other people! Put your phone down, turn it off, and focus on the real people around you.

10. Do things that make you feel good. You have the power to say yes and no. Utilize that power according to your happiness requirements. Simply: participate in activities that you enjoy, and avoid situations and people that cause your happiness level to suffer.

Simply because Ford predicts that cars will soon be equipped with nearly complete auto-pilot capabilities doesn’t mean that humans should follow their lead. On the road of life, you’re the one navigating. Choose your destination, feel the wind in your hair, and stop often along the way.

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Sing Goodbye to the Blues: Why Music is Great for Your Mental State

Photo courtesy of JD Hancock

A great appreciation for music is something that many of my family members share – ranging from musical inclinations to having a general love of music. Throughout my life, I’ve often used specific songs to put me into the right frame of mind for certain situations, and I have a sibling who is veritably obsessed with the entire concept of music.

Of course, music has been used for thousands of years to enhance a variety of situations, so I realize that it’s not just my little family that has discovered the amazing benefits of song. Marching bands get fans into the spirit of football games, lullabies tend to soothe and calm fussy babies, and teachers use catchy tunes to help students learn. What I wanted to know was: why?

After doing a little research, I discovered that there appears to be a very real connection in the brain between music and mood. Congratulations to us for being onto something all of these years!

Recent research shows that even the anticipation of your favorite song will give you a rush, but for the full benefits, you’ll have to keep listening until you reach your peak emotional arousal. Sounds worth looking (or listening) into, no?

Dopamine, a neuro-transmitter, is released by nerve cells in response to the feeling of pleasure that we get from external (and usually tangible) rewards like food, money, drugs, sex, and some activities that may signal that one of these rewards is imminent, like falling in love.

However, since listening to music isn’t really thought of as a tangible reward, the brain’s dopamine response to music had not been studied until recently.

The results are impressive.

The levels of dopamine in the brain increased by up to 9% in people who were observed while listening to some of their favorite music.  This is exciting news, because it verifies that “we can release dopamine in anticipation of something abstract, complex and not concrete, such as an aesthetic stimulus,” according to Valorie Salimpoor, co-author of the study.

The study also cemeted the fact that the chills you get during your favorite part of a song are due to the levels of dopamine spiking in your brain.  This moment is also called a musical ‘frisson.’

This tells me that Gloria Estefan was right – eventually, the rhythm is gonna get you – to smile! People have been telling us for years to listen to more music when we’re feeling down. With scientific proof that it works, what’s stopping you?

 

 

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