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(my original post for this was on SoulTrain.com)

It was the last mile of my first ten-mile run; my legs felt like a combination of jello and dead wood. Everything in my heart and mind told me that there was no way that I could finish the race. I wanted to quit. But that was until J-Ivy spoke to me during his verse of Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down:”

“Determination, dedication, motivation/I’m talking to you, my many inspirations/When I say I can’t let you or self down/If I were on the highest cliff on the highest riff/ And you slipped off the side and clenched on to your life in my grip/I would never, ever let you down.”

I turned the volume up on my I-pod and let his message soak in. He said that he was speaking directly to me in order to let me know that he could not let himself or me down. He said that all I needed to overcome this obstacle was a little determination, dedication, and motivation.  With sweat stinging my eyes, I started to think and feel differently, “If he is pushing for me, there is no reason why I should not be pushing just as hard for myself.”

I took what I had left in my spirit and energy and crossed that finish line emotionally blurred by both the hysteria of fatigue and the mania of joy. It was clear, however, that I finished that race a complete and utter believer in the power of music.

My testimony is not unique, though.

Within each one of us resides a story where music influenced our emotions. Music, by design, has the power to overwhelm, to anger, to provide solace, and to empower. We can pinpoint instances where music made us feel things we did not want to feel at times and places that we did not want to feel them. Imagine driving home and being so moved by a song that you are forced to pull over so you can cry, call your mom, or pray. We can also credit music to transforming us into more confident happy, and courageous people.

Research in the fields of neuroscience and neurology explains this link— the marriage of music to emotion. Music has been found to affect levels of various hormones in our bodies and brain, including cortisol and testosterone, which are involved in stress and aggression, respectively. Music has also been linked to triggering the release of oxytocin a hormone associated with nurturing behavior and endorphins, the “happy hormone.”

What this research implies, then, is that, as listeners, we can play an active role in controlling how we feel, at any given time, if we create playlists with a particular emotional goal or mood in mind.  Try using the following steps to begin to leverage music to your emotional advantage:

Experiment with music

Create an artist and/or genre station on sites like Pandora and pay close attention to how an artist’s repertoire or genre makes you feel.  Also ask your friends for suggestions as to their favorite songs. Be sure to ask them how those songs make them feel.

Create playlists based on the emotion that you want to feel

Instead of categorizing your music by year, artist, or genre, consider creating playlists based on the emotions that the songs evoke. (i.e. power, peace, confidence, assertiveness, melancholy).

Match your goals with an appropriate playlist

If you are trying to start a business or preparing to ask for a raise, pull out those “fight songs” to get in the mindset to win. On the other hand, if you are looking to increase your patience, forgiveness, and understanding, tune into the melodies and lyrics of your “empathy songs” to prep you to navigate hard conversations.

Decide on the playlist logistics

Think about how often you need to play these songs (i.e. weekly, daily), where you want to play them (i.e. in the car, in the bathroom, at your desk), and when you want to play them (i.e. right before a big meeting, the night before a performance)

Confidence, like happiness, is a choice and decision. So decide on your strategy and give yourself every support and tool to win.

[info_box type=”alert_box”]Caring for yourself including takes care of your finances.  I encourage all ladies who are serious about self-care to go on The Happy Finances Challenge. In 42 days you can learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness. [/info_box]

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