The lift-my-spirits playlist

Most of us have experienced how music can turn our mood around in a matter of seconds. Usually we’re talking bad mood and happy music, but equally, most of us will also remember how we as heartbroken teenagers – or thirty-somethings – would dive into sentimental ballads so we could feel even sorrier for ourselves and get an even better and longer cry.

Now, this intuitive mood-boosting method has been scientifically proven – well basically the bad mood/happy music idea – in a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

Psychologists from the University of Missouri, USA, asked a number of people to focus on improving their mood while listening to music for 12 minutes. Which they were indeed capable of, but only when listening to joyous music by Aaron Copland (American composer, 1900 – 1990). Stravinsky on the other hand seems to be no good in this respect, leaving the listeners with their “spirits in their socks” as the French would say. A second group did several sessions in a laboratory listening to positive music, effectively lifting their spirits way above sock-level over a longer period of time.

Researchers believe that, even though we don’t normally go around focusing on our mood like the participants in these studies did, the results still show that it is indeed possible to work intentionally on feeling happier.

This is Aaron Copland’s The Promise of Living. If the music won’t boost your mood, then the accompanying pictures will. Then go make your very own lift-my-spirits playlist.



By Unni Holtedahl, May 2013

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