Is It Time to Change the Playlist of Your Life?

FMLMBD, 2017
Neon mounted to powder-coated aluminum
60 x 40 x 3 inches

Given that music is such an integral part of our culture in the U.S. — and since I understand that language shapes reality— I got curious about how music impacts me. Does music influence how I interpret the world, aka “reality?”

If including two little pronouns, i.e., they/them, can spawn a national conversation and influence a cultural shift to recognize and accept non-binary identities, then what impact does music, which many of us listen to all day, every day, have on how we perceive the world?

It’s worth thinking about, right?

What songs would be on the playlist to represent your life? Do you see your life as The Police’s “King of Pain,” the Jonas Brothers, “Sucker,” or are you living closer to KYGO’s “Happy Now?”

The reason I ask is this: what we listen to matters.


Every song tells a story. What is the story that the music you listen to tells?

Just like we grow up hearing and internalizing the messages from our family of origin, school and friends, the music we listen to can create a similar impact. If every song you listen to is about “how s/he done me wrong,” it colors your perception of the world.

How conscious are you of messages you’re feeding your brain? Since the 1990s, research on the impact of music on intelligence has shown ample benefits to listening to classical music.

According to

Duke University’s Dr. Kevin Labar says that classical music can improve your intellectual performance, but not by raising your IQ. Classical music can produce a calming effect by releasing pleasure-inducing dopamine and inhibiting the release of stress hormones, all of which generates a pleasant mood,” which clarifies thinking and makes it easier to focus.

So, if music that doesn’t even have words can produce a calming effect, doesn’t it stand to reason that the opposite is true, too?

When I was in 7th grade, every morning the radio station played Pink Floyd’s “We Don’t Need No Education” while I was getting ready for school. Let me tell you, it did not motivate me to go to school. It definitely influenced me to consider breaking the rules and to question authority. As a good little rule follower back then, I didn’t start skipping school, but something about that song got me thinking about government control.

Think about it. When you sing along, what are the lyrics? The words you repeat to yourself, whether conscious or not, matter. The messages sink in. If your words create your reality, does the music you listen to support the life you want for yourself?

Imagine you could change the trajectory of your life by simply switching up your musical selections. How easy is that?

Wanna try an experiment?

Thanks to Pam Grout and an experiment in her book, E-Cubed, I just started a new morning routine that includes listening to these two upbeat songs while I walk the dog: “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors and “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black-Eyed Peas.

It’s super fun. I start my day with dancing. I bounce around the block while taking my dog out and then continue my 80s dance moves while I’m making coffee in the kitchen, and so far, I haven’t injured myself. Has it changed my life? Not yet, but it’s way more fun to walk the dog and make coffee.

What songs do you want on your the playlist of your life?

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