happiness doesn't just happen
how to love your life's path

the positive power of music

"Without music, life would be a mistake."

Friedrich Nietzsche

I love music and, for that reason, I couldn't agree with Nietzsche's quote more. (I was thrilled, in fact, when I stumbled across it!) If my life was void of music, I don't think it would a life worth living. Dramatic? Yes. Untrue? No. I really do believe that music has a profound effect on my existence. Music transforms my mood, my personality, my life in many ways. For me, what drives my love of music, what really moves me most, are the lyrics. Just hearing one great line can transform my entire day. The first time I hear a song that moves me it's like falling in love. And falling hard.

I cannot get enough of music and lyrics, the way they ebb and flow to create sounds that stay with me for days and days. I'm one of those people who plays a song I love over and over (and over and over) again. I was the type of kid that the would press record on my tape player (ahh, that sounds so old!) with the radio going all day while I was at school with the hope of catching my favorite song so I'd have it on tape. (I'm sure my parents, who worked from home, loved this.) I was the type of kid that would buy CD after CD at $20 a pop for one, single, amazing song (thank god for iTunes!). I don't know when my love for music really began. Perhaps there was never a beginning point; perhaps it was always there. All I know for sure is that without music my life would not be remotely what it is today.

I do the best I can to listen to music whenever I can. I try to listen to CDs or Pandora at work. The second I get in the car, I turn on the radio or my iPod. When I'm in a store, I'm aware of the music they are playing. (Sometimes I even walk around with headphones on, but that's only when I'm really feeling a new song and just can't bear to leave it in the car while I shop.) When I'm watching a film, a good soundtrack can take over (watch Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist if you don't know what I'm talking about). A good soundtrack can make the movie, the actors and the scenes, seem like an afterthought. Music grabs me. It sucks me in. It moves me in ways that nothing else really can.

Not everyone is that into music, I know. For some it's just background noise or something to dance to at a club. It's not that they don't like it; it's just that they don't really think much about it. And that's cool. That's just not me. For those who aren't super music-focused, you might not quite understand why I'm dedicating an entire post to music. It might seem strange or excessive. However, I'm going to take some time to explain what music is to me and maybe you'll be able to relate it to something in your life, something that has such a profoundly positive effect on your life that you can hardly put it accurately into words.

Music is so many things to me. A list of what music means to me would be endless, because, in odd ways, music effects almost everything in my life. To save us all a little time, I've chosen to highlight a few of the reasons music has had such a powerfully positive effect on my life. For me, music is many things, but here are a few of my favorites:


Music is... a best friend.

No matter what I'm going through, there is always a song to match my mood. Like a good friend, there is a song that speaks to me when I'm feeling up or down. Like a good friend, there is always a song to cheer me up or sulk with me in my (now much rarer) times of misery. Music, just like a friend, moves me and does what it can to relate to what I'm going through. While music can certainly never take the place of a real friend (no hugs, no situation-specific words of wisdom...), it's a pretty good substitute when times are tough. It's a great feeling to be able to turn on a song and find comfort in familiar words or to gain a fresh perspective from new tunes. Odd as it might sound, music is definitely a friend of mine. 


Music is... a motivator.

When I just don't feel like doing something -- going to that party or talking my dog for a walk -- music pushes me along. The right songs can push me in new directions and remind me that I can do it, no matter what my sluggish brain is telling. Music -- the right kind of music -- can be deeply inspiring and can offer me words of encouragement when I feel like giving up (or not even trying). When I'm feeling listless and unmotivated, turning to an upbeat tune on my iPod can work miracles. Suddenly I'm energized, revived, ready to take on whatever challenge might come my way. Music can get inside of me and pump me up. It can get me excited about even the most mundane situations, motivating me to realize that there is always something to look forward to. 


Music is... a stress reliever.

The first thing I do when I get in my car, day or night, is put on music. When I forget my iPod, it's the radio I switch on. When I can't find a good song on the radio, I pop on a favorite CD. I would have a very, very hard time driving without music, especially after a long day at work. After work, I actually appreciate the time I spend in the car on the way home, just jammin' out to some tunes. It's a great way to for me to relax and unwind. When I feel stressed, I can just close the door to my bedroom, put on some relaxing music, and just wait for the stress of the day to fade away. At times, music is even so relaxing that I use it to help me get to sleep during particularly anxious times in my life. Music, the calm kind, soothes me and puts me at ease, in a place outside of my cares and concerns.


Music is... a gift.

I'm the type of person that spends hours and hours carefully crafting CDs for my friends and family members, taking joy in writing down all of the titles and artists when the final product comes together. As much as I love listening to music, I love sharing it even more. There is nothing like hearing a great song and thinking, "Hey! I know someone who will love this song!" Likewise, there's nothing quite like when a friend says to me, "Hey, you've gotta hear this. You'll love it!" and turns up the stereo. Sharing music is one of my favorite things to do. It's a great way for me to bond with other people and to find out about new songs that I might not have otherwise discovered. As an ex of mine knows well, the way to my heart isn't flowers or candy -- it's a thoughtfully made CD.


Music is... a party starter.

One of the best ways to get any party started is to play some great music.No matter what kind of party you're having -- a low-key night with friends, a college-style rager -- you need good music. There is something about putting on music that changes the dynamic of almost any situation. It livens things up and encourages people to start moving. As someone who loves to dance (even though I'm not all that good at it!), I firmly believe that a party hasn't really started until there's some sort of music working its way through the crowd. People like music. It spices things up. It makes life -- and parties in particular -- that much more fun!


Music is... a teacher.

Everything I've learned in life, I've learned from music. Okay, that's not entirely true, but, honestly, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I've learned from music. Before I knew what love was, music taught me about it. Music taught me about pain, heartache, joy, and happiness. Lately, music has taught me to be positive, to embrace happiness, and to see the good in life. Music has inspired new ideas in me and made me think about life from new perspectives. Just like when I read a profound book, certain songs have the ability to teach me new things, to think about the world and other people in new ways. This, for me, is one of the most amazing things about music and the thing I am most grateful for. Without music, I know I wouldn't know all that I do today.


As I was writing this post, I came across some great articles about how music affects our minds. If you're interested in the topic, I'd definitely suggest checking these out to learn more:

How Music Improves Health

How Music Affects Us

Physical and Mental Benefits of Music

Effects of Music on the Mind

Music Matters Blog

Music on the Mind

And if you're interested in seeing what music I like to listen to, you can check out Positively Present on Blip (like Twitter, but for music!) or check out my Smile-Worthy Songs list on my site (click on the link here or on the link in the column on the right). If you're interested in a soundtrack that I created for Positively Present, you can check out the interview I did with The Sassy Minx awhile back. As you can tell, the topic of music and how it impacts our lives has always been fascinating to me. Music is so integrated into life, especially into media, and most of us (myself included) don't even realize how much music has the ability to impact what we think and do. I know how music impacts me personally, but I'd love to learn more about how music impacts YOU.

What does music mean to you? Can't live without it? Take it or leave it?
Have you noticed music's impact in your own life? If so, what has the impact been?


Photo Credit: Something Monumental


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I listen to music more for the sound and the way the words mesh with the rhythm and beats. I have a favorite song that I play everyday and it always gets me motivated.

Great post, Dani. It's great to think about music and how it great impacts our lives.

I've always loved music too but it wasn't until going through divorce that I realised just how important it is. My brother pretty much lives for music and is my "go to" guy for finding out new bands, artists and songs. His way of helping me deal with the divorce was to buy me CDs, spend time with me listening to music and introduce me to new artists and styles. While I was in a LOT of pain at the time, I look back on those moments with him very fondly. Music was a huge part of my healing.

Ironically, it was also through music that my current partner and I got to know each other and start to bond.

They should change the quote to "Love AND MUSIC make the world go around".

I have an ever changing sound track that runs through my head (my daughter is the same way). I note that I can often tell how I am feeling at a deeper level by the songs that come to mind. That said, a good song can lift me and bring hope in ways that nothing else can. I recently saw The Color Purple. The entire show was amazing for the music and the message - but some of the song lines hit home "Too beautiful for words"... is one while "what about love" is another. I felt the lines reach in and grab my soul reminding me, in no uncertain terms, that I need to lift my head high and look people in the eye because beauty courses through me from my spirit out - as it does in all of us.

All that from a line of a song!!

Great post!

Hi Dani .. I love music - but it's just not in my blood .. so it's there .. it's gone .. I have to say it's a frustration, but if that's the way it is .. I canna do nothing about it .. just enjoy the music I hear.

I'm about to get my ipod going .. so I'll be back to look at your sites and pick up some things .. I do hear songs and make a note of them .. and sometimes got to buy the CD .. now perhaps I can do a little more - they just do not sink in & to cap it off .. I have no sense of rythm ... despite playing the piano (badly) for many years .. still I enjoyed it - but it definitely didn't enjoy me!!

I'll be back to pick up your music tips .. wish I had it!! You just know when you don't.

All the best .. Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

I feel 100% exactly the same way about music. It's an integral part of my life. In college, I wrote an essay about how music has a positive impact on health and can increase intelligence (it enhances both critical and creative thinking). Sometimes, it's hard for me to understand people who don't appreciate music, and I feel like they're missing out on something that could enhance their lives, but what can you do? I just make sure there's music playing whenever possible, especially at parties and other gatherings.

John - Thank you! Glad you liked the post. That's great that you listen to a favorite song every day. What a great way to stay motivated!

Sami - Music can really help us through the tough times. There's something about it that I just connect with when I'm really going through a tough time. Bonding with others over music is so great. I completely agree with your change to that classic quote. So true!

The Exception - That's so interesting! I definitely feel like the songs I choose to listen to are very different depending on my mood. It's amazing what the line of a song can do, isn't it? The Color Purple sounds fantastic! I'll have to see it sometime.

Hilary - It's okay not to be obsessed with music. You should get out your iPod and come back and check out my "Smile-Worthy Songs" list. I bet you'll find some that hit home with you!

Melissa - So glad you could relate to the post! I've read a lot of interesting things about the benefits of music and, like you, sometimes I wonder how those who aren't as into music as I am get by. I cannot imagine driving in my car without music playing, for example. I'm guessing that there is something for those people that they feel similarly about, but I really love being in love with music!

Absolutely brilliant post. I often forget the power that music has had on my own life, across all of the genres that I listen to. I like how you included the other link references as well. Thanks for this!

Laura - Thank you! I'm so glad you liked the post. For many people, music does really have a great impact on many people's lives. I hope you enjoy checking out the links. They're pretty interesting!

Dani, i'm a lover of silence AND music is what shifts me when i need to make a shift. i begin my day in silence and THEN i have specific music i play for specific tasks. blues guitar helps me create. classic motown helps me do housework. acoustic helps me surf the web. and Van Morrison helps me cook.
thanks for helping me pinpoint these important shifters.
may the tunes be with you!

"The first thing I do when I get in my car, day or night, is put on music." I do the same. I can't drive in silence, but I also can't listen to people talking on the radio. It makes me feel tense while music makes me feel relaxed.

Isn't that funny that we were both on the topic of music today? Maybe you've already done this, but you might have fun doing a Soundtrack Story. I loved doing this!


"Everybody dance now- rock, this party, dance everybody make it hot, this party"

Music is totally deliciously awesome!

Me and my friends always used to joke that it would be cool if life had its own sound effects like in the movies when something is about to happen that certain music would start playing. Now wouldn't THAT be cool:)

I love music, both playing it and listening, and its so amazing how there are different kinds of music for each mood and situation you have. :)

Great post Dani!
Let's hear your favourite song right now, add it as a youtube clip:)))


Hi Dani

Music is magical, it can change how a person's state of mind in a heartbeat. And it is so amazing to watch my kid, as a baby he will move side to side with the music all on his own. He didn't learn it from anyone, he just felt it.
Music do move people young and old.

Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hi Dani .. yes I thought I would .. I just need to get it sorted out for me .. tonight I hope .. so I'll be back to check the sites out .. thanks ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Music really is all that and a bag of chips.

My iPod is always with me, wherever I go, and my favorite Summer day is the top down on my Jeep, blasting my favorite songs.

Now matter what's gone on in my life, music is always there. I especially like your point on how the music can make or break the movie. Music really is a mood maker.

Love this post! It should have a soundtrack to it, as well! (smile)

My brother started me off listening to music - and appreciating it - at the ripe old age of 4, when he started buying and playing records nonstop. By age 6, I was a Bruce Springsteen fan (pre-Born in the USA), Beatles fan, Styx & REO Speedwagon fan, the list goes on. (By the way, I used to do the same thing as you with the cassette recorder and radio!)

Certain songs will always take me right back to what was happening the very first time I heard them. Mazzy Star's "Hallah," Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye," and Poi Dog Pondering's "Pulling Touch" come to mind immediately.

I noticed on iTunes the other day that I'd spent close to $500 on music in the past couple years. Probably not that significant compared to others, but it made me grin nonetheless.

Hey Dani :)

of all the Nietzsche quotes i've read, that was far and away the funniest :)

since i got a new ipod (crazy girlfriend stole last one) i've been immersed in music land constantly lately.

kinda why i wrote one of the bits in my latest post :)

funny you say not everyon's into music. i think it's just that they've never listened properly. most music is terrible on small speakers or bad headphones...

def a stress reliever and most def a party starter :P always. haha.


keep well

Hi Dani,
Music is so wonderfully connecting for me. Many different styles depending upon my mood or how I'm feeling. And when there's a song whose words resonate deeply with me, the music just becomes that much more meaningful.

Dani, I love this post because music is beautiful. And what a great quote you shared at the start!

Lisa - Great point about silence. I have some trouble with silence (always turning on the TV or my stereo in my apartment) and I bet you I'd find more happiness if I could be okay with the silent times too. May the tunes be with you as well! :)

Vered - Both driving in silence and with talk radio makes me anxious. I know a lot of people who do both and I cannot imagine it. I have to switch on music in order to feel more relaxed and at ease. So glad you can relate!

Whitney - A soundtrack story sounds great! I'm going to have to hop over to your site and see what I need to do to create one (though I kinda have an idea from those two words put together). I'm excited about it already!

Diggy - Hahaha, you cracked me up with that line! Music IS awesome! And what an interesting idea about sound effects. What if we did have that? How funny/awesome/awkward would that be? Hahaha. I'm laughing just thinking of some ideas for that right now! You can check out my favorite songs (some of them at least) on my "Smile-Worthy Songs" list to the right or on http://blip.fm/positivelypresent. Blip is awesome -- like Twitter for music!

Giovanna - Music IS magical. That's a wonderful, beautiful way of putting it. It's amazing what music does to people and it's so interesting to watch how babies and kids react to it because they are just going with the flow, not trying to impress anyone. It's great!

J.D. - Haha, yes it is! Ah, top down on a Jeep with the music blaring...brings me right back to my high school days! My ex-boyfriend had a Jeep and it was such a great, summery ride. There's nothing like the wind blowing through your hair to make the experience of music that much better! Music is definitely a mood maker -- well put!

Megan - You're right! It should have a soundtrack to it as well. I'm going to check out Whitney's idea for a soundtrack story. In the meantime, you can follow me on http://blip.fm/positivelypresent or check out this interview I did with The Sassy Minx: http://www.thesassyminx.com/girls-on-top/blog-love-positively-present/. That's so great that you got started listening to music at a young age. You've mentioned some great songs in your comment. And as for money spent on iTunes...oh man, don't get me started. I spend WAY too much on music, but, you know what? Like books, music is one of those things I never feel guilty about spending money on because it makes me truly happy and I can share it with others!

Alex - That's a pretty great quote, isn't it? Music is definitely something you can totally immerse yourself in and I think it's very interesting what you say about people who haven't heard music properly. Maybe it's not that they haven't really wanted to get that into it... Thanks for the Stumble! You're awesome!

Lance - I'm so glad you liked this post and the quote! :) I thought it was a pretty perfect one for this post. Like you, I feel very connected to music and when I can relate to the words in a song it is so incredibly powerful and moving. I cannot imagine life without it!

I LOVE music. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Love to dance to it, love to relax to it, love to see it live. Just started learning how to play the guitar...LOVE LOVE LOVE Music. I think I got my point across. :-)

If I may quote Madonna "Music makes the people come together"...that's what I love about it. Seems to be a universal language.

Oh Dani, don't even get me started on the power and love I have for music! Music has always been the most powerful art form to me...even since I was a kid, listening to my brothers old vinyl records of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and much more.

I loved this post, what a fantastic thing to write about! A day doesn't pass that I don't listen to music. If you liked that Infinite Playlist movie soundtrack, check out KEXP.org in the mornings. :)

Thanks again!

Stacey - I see that you feel the same way I do! I can't say enough how much I LOVE to listen to music. I once thought about taking up the guitar but that didn't really work out. For now I'll just have to be a listener. I certainly get enough joy out of that! Great quote from Madonna. So true!

Dayne - Yay! Another music lover! Music is just the most amazing thing and it's so great to see that so many readers enjoy music as much as I do. I'll have to check out that site. Sounds like it could be a great fit for my musical tastes!

Congratulations on being quoted in the Washington Post Express Blog Log column! As for music, I love it, can't live without it, but I hate it when other people blast their music from their apartments or cars. I also find that music disrupts my concentration for some tasks, so I don't play it while I'm working.

Dot - Thank you! I was so excited when I heard about this: http://www.expressnightout.com/content/2009/07/_id_rather_he_remain.php :) I agree with you about music. While I love it to death, I don't like it when other people's music invades my personal space. Playing music too loudly in your home, car, or office is disrespectful and is definitely not a nice way to experience music positively!

For a long, long time I hadn't much care for music. I could do with or without it. That is no longer true! Very recently I've discovered the power of music, and now I always seek out music that speaks specifically to me. When I'm down and lazy, I put on some music and dance around - suddenly I feel like I can do anything! And I really like to sing, I sing both when I'm angry and when I'm in a very happy place. Though I couldn't tell you the name of bands or songs, or even the lyrics, I love music and don't know where I'd be without it.

I cant live without music, but luckily it will always be with me. It reminds me of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, when he is put in the hole for a week and plays Mozart in his head. They couldn't take the music away.

I love doing yoga for lots of reasons. But a good yoga class with the right music is a downright spiritual experience for me which I'm able to carry through the rest of my day.

I agree with Megan's comment that you should have had a soundtrack to this post. I could almost hear the music while reading :-)

Ia - I'm so glad you've hopped on the music bandwagon! It's great to know that you take joy in listening to music and that, like me, you really enjoy songs you can relate to. Music is awesome!

Shannanigans - I've never seen that movie, but it sounds amazing and is a great example of how powerful music is. It really can say with us and impact our lives!

Lori - I've always wanted to try yoga and I can imagine that yoga paired with fitting music is a wonderful experience. I'm going to have to work on the soundtrack idea! :)

Music is a HUGE part of my life. I love discovering new music. I am always listening to music, either my ipod or my favourite rock station. When there is no music, I feel more stressful and less productive. Sometimes, its just a need for some background music so that I can focus more easily, but other times, its really to get into it and feel it almost.

well, since I love music so much, I have to say that this is my favorite post from you yet! I LOVED it, Dani!!

Marie - I feel the same way that you do about music. When I don't have it on, I feel unsettled and it often helps motivate me to get work done and be productive. Music can change everything!

Jay - I'm so glad you liked this one best! I know you're a big fan of music (especially after your last amazing post on your site) and I'm so glad you could relate to this post. :)

Dani, you are truly speaking my language today! Music is my lifeline, my therapy on many days. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is one of my favorite movies. Mostly because they viewed music as I do. Music is vital to mankind and everytime I hear a song, voice or sound that moves me I know that He exists.


I clicked on this in my RSS reader right when I saw it. I'm a HUGE music person, given that I was almost a music major in college. I've been listening to music actively since I was in 5th grade. There was a summer where all I'd do is turn on the radio, listen to songs I like, and call the radio station over and over to play the songs I wanted to here. Music is so powerful to me, and I find that it makes every movie. I loved the Nick and Norrah's soundtrack and downloaded it after my sister made me watch that movie. That was the best thing about that movie.

I love music and the power of music in healing is amazing.

On another note my daughter sang to my grandson the day he was born and several times a day onward. He began singing by cooing right back at her. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.

I don't mean a few noises I'm talking about throughout the song right a long with her!

He's 7 months and teething and his favorite song is one by Jimmy Buffet "Son a Sailor Man." They have it on their Ipod several times and he falls a sleep to it when he's fussy! Great post.

Tabitha - Awesome! I'm glad you can relate to the post! :)I know what you mean about the movie and how they focus on music. It's great that the movie was able to capture how much music can impact life.

Srinivas - That's great! Music is so important to me and I'm so glad you can relate to that. The soundtrack was definitely the best thing about the movie and I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. Music is amazing!

Tess - You're so right about the healing power of music. I love the story you told about your grandson. How adorable! It just goes to show how powerful music can be, even on very young ears. The powers of music are endless!

Great post, Dani!! It is great to find other people who crave music has much as I do. I'm new to your site and I'll definitely will be back!!

Tanya - So glad you found the site and enjoyed this post. It really is great to be able to connect with others on the topic of music. I need to do another post like this soon with some new songs!

I have to agree with Tanya.. this is a truly amazing post as I too am a music mad person & fully agree with everything in your post. Music can make or break a film & the same for my moods. It does inpsire & motivate us as well as being that best friend you so elequently describe. Love it!! Beautiful writing also, Good work ;) x

Trudie - So glad you enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

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