Filtering by Tag: music

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' new song "Kevin" hits the proverbial nail on the head.

As a mental health and personal growth professional, I was shocked and impressed by the profundity of Macklemore's and Ryan Lewis’ commentary on the “medicalization of normal life” in America with their new song ‘Kevin’. Since I’m not used to seeing the truth as I see it laid out so clearly, yet in a poignantly emotional way, my attention was immediately captured and my heart was racing as I listened to his words.

Although I’m under no pretense that the endemic lies just within our borders (nor are the artists, surely), their lyrics presented in context at the American Music Awards pushed the envelope at a time when the world recovers from the shock of recent, well-televised terrorist attacks. I can imagine, as with any emotionally traumatic event, people turn to whatever coping mechanisms allow them to continue their life as normal, not wanting to rock the boat for fear of losing the delicate balance of their existence, maybe so they can retire someday and then, truly start to enjoy the life they put off for so long. Some of those coping mechanisms are prescribed drugs that people take whenever their experience of life overwhelms, and in times of crisis that are global, regional, or personal. 

Yet Macklemore and Lewis challenge us, not to completely throw away the drugs that keep us sane, but to question the ubiquity of their influence on ourselves, our relationships, and our lives. Ask yourself, what DID humans do before prescription drugs to process the effects of stress and trauma on their bodies, and on their psyches? Far be it for anyone to say what is ‘normal,’ so let’s really clear the slate and ask ourselves what is really needed, versus what enables us to continue an unsustainable trajectory of growth and consumption. 

What’s the solution? I don’t know. But I think the conversation is valuable, and I encourage my community to keep it alive until we’ve rebuilt the healthy social supports that enliven us, rather than treat symptoms in ways that kill us.

Thanks @macklemore and @ryanlewis. You are leaders, and an inspiration for a higher standard of living.

For more research and reading on drug-free therapies for emotional support:

All the links on this page:

NB: The referenced links above do not represent my perspective on these issues, they are just resources to keep reading on this issue.

Oooh, Listen to the Music!

We're giving you an excuse to listen to your playlist at work - it helps you be productive!

Do you have any tasks that are repetitive and grueling? Checking emails might be one thing many people grunt about. What about data entry? Paperwork? Editing and review? If you've done a specific task for a long enough time, your brain starts to yawn and you might lag. But studies are showing that music can have a great effect on your work.  The University of Windsor, Canada released the results of an experiment which "indicated that state positive affect and quality-of-work were lowest with no music, while time-on-task was longest when music was removed." In other words, music can help you be more efficient.

The benefits aren't just in efficiency. The right song can also spur your creativity - if it's not too loud! The Journal of Consumer Research announces that "results from five experiments demonstrate that a moderate (70 dB) versus low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products." It's probably something we've all suspected, but the data brings it home. Adapt your music for the mood most appropriate to the work at hand (energetic or contemplative?) and keep the volume at a moderate level - neither too low or too high. 

As a general rule, if you need to focus (and the task is not repetitive and requires more mental exertion) avoid an abundance of lyrics and stick to music you're familiar with. This limits the distractor factor while still stimulating you. 

As a last note, some people talk about the "Mozart Effect," a phenomenon that supposedly increased the IQs and learning potential of young children when they listened to Mozart. There was a lot of controversy over this, and what it is really based on are studies showing temporary learning improvement in adult brains. However, further studies have indicated that Mozart's music isn't the only kind that can help peak your brain - it seems that many different kinds of music that strongly resonate with you can help your cognition. 

Take these tips, and experiment with them in the workplace. With a little rhythm and beat, your "engine" should run more smoothly. 

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