I spent the weekend thinking about and listening to a lot of music. I was basically listening to different genres and really taking note of how each affected my mood.
Music has been on my mind after I read one of Scott Adam’s books the other week – it’s a self-helpy book which I don’t normally like, but he’s an interesting guy and has a lot to say. He talks a bit about his journey (failure failure failure CREATOR OF DILBERT failure failure) and tips for living well.
Adams rips on the notion of passion as the proper motivating force for life and instead focuses on personal energy. As someone who is interested in a ton of things, this makes a lot of sense to me. The “pursue your passion” thinking can be a trap in many different ways: obscuring vision/ debilitating effective decision making, inhibiting efforts towards important but cheese-grater-on-the-soul kind of tasks, and creating unnecessary emotional roller coasters to name a few. Anyways, Adams is a trained hypnotist and knows a fair amount about psychology. He emphasizes listening to happy music as a way to manage mood and increase personal energy (which then boosts things like positive attitude, health, and social performance).
If you know me well, you know that I love listening to sad music. Although I’m not religious, I think I’ve absorbed a lot of thinking from Buddhist/ Stoic/ Eastern philosophies over the years. So much of it is about embracing and taking ownership of suffering as an inevitability of life – welcoming the sad for the sad, not necessarily because it is followed by the happy. You’ve probably heard me say something like “I love being sad because it means I’m alive. I’m grateful to just be able to feel the whole range of human emotion.” There’s beauty in sadness. Maybe it sounds naive – or wise – but it probably just sounds strange and masochistic.
The week after I read the book, I found myself playing a mix of sad classical music and Korean ballads on the commute home. The first three days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday), I straight up cried the whole ride home. This is extremely dangerous, especially since there are no lights on the highway between Menlo Park and San Francisco. Then on Thursday, I remembered what Scott Adams wrote and played what I thought would be happy music, Colbie Caillat. Apparently this is common knowledge, but I didn’t know that a lot of her songs are sad as hell too. If you’re like me at all, you know that once you get sad, you kind of like it and keep the mood going. I cried again.
By Friday I’m realizing this is super weird. I’m a healthy, thriving young man living in sunny California and I’ve just cried Monday-Thursday for 45 minutes per day. It forced me to turn the weekend into a testing period, during which I listened to everything from Marvin Gaye to Migos to Maroon 5, taking meticulous note of every Pandora Station (I’m a Pandora Guy), how I felt directly after, and how I spent my time the next hour. Long story short, I found that the happiest music is by Natasha Bedingfield. She helped me get some sh*t done.
So that’s basically what this entire post is about. Me recommending Natasha Bedingfield. My favorite is Love Like This; check it out!