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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book review – the art of asking by amanda palmer

this week amanda palmer’s the art of asking was released in paperback. like when it first came out last year, she asked her fans to spread the word about it. i was already meaning to do a review on it, so here it is.

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i have been following amanda palmer & her work for years & years now. from the dresden dolls, to her solo album, evelyn evelyn, the grand theft orchestra, ukelele madness, ted talk… she has done so many wonderful things. i don’t love everything that she’s done, but this book is definitely one of the many things that i do.

the art of asking is basically about amanda’s experiences with asking & what she has learned from those experiences. it could be categorised as a self-help book, but it is so much more. it is also a meditation on human relationships, vulnerability, trust & art & all its facets. then it is partially a memoir of one of the greatest artists of our time.

in the art of asking amanda questions a lot of notions that most of us in the western world probably grew up with. like how we are supposed to be independent & never need help & distrust everyone else. how we think artists are supposed to earn money. fundamentally, how we are supposed to be embarrassed by asking for help. she shows that there is another way. she shows a glimpse of a better, more open & loving world.

the whole book filled me with such inspiration. it made me want to be better to other people, allow myself to be vulnerable, create more art. it changed my views on certain things, for the better. i would recommend everyone to read this.

some of the passages that i highlighted while reading the book:

Everybody struggles with asking.
From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one.
It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.
American culture in particular has instilled in us the bizarre notion that to ask for help amounts to an admission of failure. But some of the most powerful, successful, admired people in the world seem, to me, to have something in common: they ask constantly, creatively, compassionately, and gracefully.”

“Those who can ask without shame are viewing themselves in collaboration with-rather than in competition with–the world.
Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.”

“Seeing each other is hard.
But I think when we truly see each other, we want to help each other.
I think human beings are fundamentally generous, but our instinct to be generous gets broken down.”

“I think the real risk is the choice to disconnect. To be afraid of one another.
We make countless choices every day whether to ask or to turn away from one another. Wondering whether it’s too much to ask the neighbor to feed the cat. The decision to turn away from a partner, to turn off the light instead of asking what’s wrong.
Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.
Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing:
I deserve to ask
and
You are welcome to say no.
Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.”

i think i need to go re-read this…

if you want to read it too, you can buy the paperback at amazon, barnes & noble, books-a-million, indiebound or porter square books. you can find a bunch of links for the hardcover, audiobook & ebook here.