Kickstart My Heart – The Influence of the Music in Our Lives

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I’ve had a realisation last year. A realisation that I keep having lately. It’s about the music, and media in general, we consume and how it influences our mood. I have already written a blog post about my experience, but it felt necessary to revisit.

Over the past few months I have almost exclusively been listening to music that makes me feel good. As much as I love my angst-ridden metalcore, nihilistic doom metal and gloomy goth music, I know that it’s not particularly helpful to listen to on a daily basis. Continually listening to negative music inevitably leads to dwelling on things that make me unhappy. There is a time and place for it and that time and place is not every day.

Instead of Bring Me the Horizon I’ve been listening to Four Year Strong, instead of Cult of Luna I’ve been listening to Mötley Crüe, instead of Lana del Rey I’ve been listening to Elvis, all the pop punk, and so on. Of course I’ve still been listening to Every Time I Die, but more their newer, more positive music, rather than say, Ex-Lives.

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These little tweaks have made a huge difference in my life. It’s so simple and so effective. The simplicity and the effectiveness still baffle me. I’ve been singing and dancing through my apartment all day. I’ve been a lot more motivated to do things. I’ve been more creative. I’ve been more social. I’ve gradually been watching less series that don’t directly add to my sense of wellbeing; instead of horror or drama series I’ve been drawn more to stand-up comedy, documentaries about nature or inspiring people, and magical girl anime shows (of which singing along to the theme songs is an absolute necessity). I’ve also been reading more non-fiction books about spirituality and people who fascinate me. These other media have been enriching my life in turn.

This is just scratching the surface. So many positive experiences stem from putting on upbeat music as early as possible in the day. Once you’re in that positive place, so many more positive things will start happening. And then I think of my mom and how she turns on her radio first thing in the morning and cheerfully sings along. She’s been doing this for as long as I can remember. I used to find it insufferable, but now it’s like Mom! All along you knew this secret to happiness and you didn’t tell me!*

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Well, my friend, I’m here to let you in on this secret. There are a lot of things that I’ve been doing over the past few months to consciously get into a positive mindset (or into THE VORTEX as Gala Darling and Abraham-Hicks call it) and listening to uplifting music as much as possible is unquestionably one of the most powerful. And unlike I used to think, uplifting music doesn’t have to mean only modern radio pop. There is so much uplifting music in alternative genres: pop punk, punk rock, horror punk, glam metal, glam rock, ebm,  synthpop, 50s rock and roll. You just have to weed it out.

If you’re interested in the sort of music that makes me feel really good, I’ve made a playlist on Youtube (NSFW). It starts with Avril Lavigne, naturally. I’ve tried to keep it somewhat cohesive, but hey, I listen to a lot of different music.

 

I don’t know if all this is obvious to anyone else, but it was mind-blowing to me. Once you become conscious of the media you consume on a daily basis and how much it informs your experience, you can change your world.

*Then again, I probably wouldn’t have been in such a receptive mode as I am now. It’s something that I’ve had to grow towards.

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Lessons learned in a clothing distribution centre

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For the past five months I worked full-time in a clothing distribution centre of a fairly big Dutch clothing brand. I packaged orders at the webshop, threw products onto a conveyor belt, unpacked and put products in storage, etc. It wasn’t my first choice of jobs, but, you know, writers also have bills to pay.

I learned a lot from my experience there though. Here are some of the things I took away from it:

  • ANY job is better than no job. Even if all you do is sticker price tags all day, it’s still better than sitting at home useless and parasitically living off other people.
  • Any work can be fulfilling if you’re continually learning new things and getting better at it.
  • If you have nice, fun colleagues it vastly improves your general experience. They are invaluable in this kind of repetitive work.
  • Repetitive actions, like folding and storing clothes, can be meditative and calming; they also give you an excellent opportunity to come up with solutions to problems in your creative projects.
  • Any attempt to wear cute clothes and chunky jewellery when you do physical work is futile.
  • Learn from others who have been at the job longer. Try methods that you see others use, even if it seems illogical to you. It will help you in the long run.
  • Make tasks as easy on yourself as possible. Doing something the hard way won’t impress anyone.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask men for help for something that requires physical strength. You may think you’re strong and tough and can totally do all the things the boys can, but sometimes you’ll just unnecessarily injure yourself if you lift something that’s too heavy for you.
  • A lot more clothes can fit in a box than you expect. Sometimes, you’ll think no, it’s way too much, there’s too big a pile sticking out at the top, it’ll never fit. Just close the box; it’ll fit.
  • Always wash new clothes.
  • The best way to wake up on a work morning is by putting on some cheerful music and singing along loudly. At work, cheerful music is also great to keep motivated.
  • Speaking of music, what the Dutch call fout (‘wrong’, meaning something like guilty pleasure) music is significantly more enjoyable than the modern pop shit on the radio.
  • A positive mindset improves every experience (one of those lessons that you have to learn over and over again).

Picture by Jim Killock

My #1 tool to instantly get myself into a good mood

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Lately I’ve been having a lot of bad days. Days when I feel completely unmotivated to do any of the things I have to do. From the moment my alarm goes off at the absurd hour of 4:30, I’ll be cranky. I won’t want to shower, dress in my boring jeans and shirt uniform, cycle the half hour to my shit job with the wind against me, and especially not spend the great majority of the day doing intense physical labour that does nothing to help me achieve my personal work goals.

I’ll get so frustrated before I even get out of bed. I’ll hate having obligations and so little time or energy to spend on the things I actually enjoy. I’ll hate being a slave to money and hate the whole capitalist system and hate my life in general.

When this happens, I know that I have a choice. I can choose to stay miserable and hate everything, or I can actively cheer myself up and transform my day into a nice one.

I tend to choose the latter. How I do this when it seems like there is no good in sight?

Pop punk.

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Yes, pop punk.

Specifically, the good old pop punk spawned in the 90s and early 2000s: Good Charlotte, Blink-182, Green Day, Avril Lavigne and so forth.

It sounds ridiculously easy, but for me it makes a world of difference. It’s impossible to stay in a sour mood when I hear something as fun and familiar like ‘The Anthem’ or ‘All the Small Things’. And I don’t ever wanna, I don’t ever wanna be you…

So in the morning I’ll put on my pop punk playlist at too loud a volume and inevitably sing along louder. (Both at home and while I cycle the long way. Singing while cycling makes the road infinitely more fun) Before long I’ll be happy to be alive again. Able to laugh at my misery. Completely capable of handling whatever the day will throw at me. With pop punk at my side, I’ll show up at my shit job grinning like an idiot.

Of course, I won’t want to listen to such cheerful music at first. When I’m in a sour mood I only want angry music to justify my anger. It’s always an effort to put on something that will make me happy instead. And always worth that effort a thousand times over.

Some of my favourites:

Long live pop punk!