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Listening To Upbeat Music Can Actually Make You Feel Happier, Science Says

Like most kids, I had a mix of good and bad childhood experiences.

But when I took a quick peek into my childhood diary, I was surprised to discover I had experienced way more teasing than I had remembered.

While humans' negativity bias has long been reported on, some new research sheds light on how to combat it.

It turns out, listening to happy music brings up positive memories, while listening to sad music brings up negative ones.

Advice I'd Give My Younger Self

Recent research conducted by Signy Sheldon and Julia Donahue of McGill University in Canada proved that when people listen to happy, upbeat music (instead of emotionally scary or sad music), they can recall happy memories within a shorter amount of time.

In the experiment, the researchers had participants listen to four different genres of original music they had never heard before: happy (positive, high arousal), peaceful (positive, low arousal), scary (negative, high arousal) and sad (negative, low arousal).

After listening to the piece of music, they had 30 seconds to think of a memory that personally involved them, that had a specific time and place and that didn't last for longer than a day.

As soon as something came to mind, they pressed a computer key and typed in the details of their memory.

The researchers marked down how long it took participants to remember an event from their past, how clear the memory was and the emotions they felt when experiencing it.

The researchers found that when the participants listened to happy, upbeat music, it brought about happy memories.

And when they listened to emotionally scary or sad music, it brought about negative memories.

Meaning, listening to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams will literally make you happy!

What the researchers were surprised to find was that after listening to scary or sad and slow-paced music, it took people longer to recall any kind of memory at all.

Adulting: 20s vs 30s

They also observed that the higher the tempo (along with positive notes), the faster a memory came to surface. 

For example, if you were to listen to “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, you would remember something happy more quickly than if you were to listen to “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga.

In that case, you would probably just remember a time when someone broke your heart.

Not only did the positivity of the music help them recall a memory faster, but it also actually helped them remember more details.

So, instead of only remembering getting your first dog, you would remember the weather, where you picked it up and how you found your furry friend.

This could explain why pop songs are played so often. They tend to be upbeat and make people feel good.

How Your Emotions Can Impact Your Physical Health

This leads to the conclusion that when you get stuck in a cycle of negative thought, don't listen to songs like Adele's “Hello” or “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna, even if you love them.

To change up your mood and put a positive spin on your perspective, listen to songs like “Confident” by Demi Lovato or “24k Magic” by Bruno Mars.

And if you can't think of the perfect song, try listening to our Happy Jams playlist:

Now go and get happy, people!

Citations: Happy notes, happy memories (Science Daily)

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Camille Theobald

Freelance Contributor

Camille is a health and fitness nut by day and Stand Up Comedian by night. She hosts the weekly podcast HealthyAF where everyone from Personal Trainers to recovering Chocoholics talk about their journey to health. Her love for green juice and f ...
Camille is a health and fitness nut by day and Stand Up Comedian by night. She hosts the weekly podcast HealthyAF where everyone from Personal Trainers to recovering Chocoholics talk about their journey to health. Her love for green juice and f ...

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