Change Your Playlist, Change Your Life

Playlist is a neologism (new word) from the era of mp3 electronic music players. It refers to a sequence of tracks selected from amongst available music, that are grouped together as a listener choice. This is not the same as an album, where the associated tracks are chosen by the music publisher or the artist concerned.

Thus a personal playlist can include Beatles, along with Beethoven, if desired. There are no restrictions. Imagination and taste is the only guide.

Now a new book has pointed out that by choosing your playlist tracks carefully, your music can have an enormous benefit on your moods, efficiency and energy.

The book is called Your Playlist Can Change Your Life by Galina Mindlin, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, and founder of Brain Music Therapy; Don DuRousseau, founder of Human Bionics; and Joseph Cardillo, a top-selling author in holistic psychology and mind-body medicine.

The authors argue that music’s benefits hold for everyone and that if we queue up our tunes with care they’ll lift our mood, reduce anxiety, raise motivation, help us work out better and even fight off depression and insomnia.

Like sex, drugs or really good food, music causes the brain to release dopamine, a brain feel-good chemical. Choose your tracks carefully and you really can control your mood.

Slow, serene music calms and soothes; it reduces stress. You might want to do that when you are stressed or to tone down and tune out the day, before sleeping.

Jaunty, upbeat music lifts energy and enhances alertness. You might find that valuable before a big exam or giving that presentation you’re hoping will impress the suits.

Musicologist Julius Portnoy found that not only can music, “change metabolism, affect muscular energy, raise or lower blood pressure, and influence digestion,” but “It may be able to do all these things more successfully … than any other stimulants that produce those changes in our bodies.” (Tame, David, The Secret Power of Music, Destiny Books, 1984, p. 138).

Clinical researchers at the U.C.L.A. School of Nursing in Los Angeles, and at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta, found that premature babies gained weight faster and were able to use oxygen more efficiently when they listened to soothing music.

At Baltimore’s St. Agnes Hospital, classical music was provided in the critical-care units. “Half an hour of music produced the same effect as ten milligrams of Valium,” says Dr. Raymond Bahr, head of the coronary-care unit.

It doesn’t have to be music. Even listening to the rhythmic sounds of the ocean, either for real or recorded and through earphones, can relax you and allow you to reach what the authors of Your Playlist Can Change Your Life call a state of “flow,” a somewhat hard-to-define state of mind that’s akin to “being in the zone” — focused on the task but still at ease, able to perform at your best.

I have a set I call “Spiritual”; it contains things like Twilight and Shadow from the soundtrack of the movie Lord Of The Rings. It’s wonderfully haunting and etheric.

Another set I call “Caffeine” and it includes bouncy tracks like Din Din Wo (Little Child) by Senegalese singer Habib Koite (you can sample either of these tracks on YouTube).

Don’t forget the important words of sound researcher and philosopher Alfred Tomatis: a frequency of 5,000 hertz can be as stimulating as two cups of coffee in the morning.

My friend Gary Malkin, an Emmy Award-winning composer, points out the importance of music in our conscious lives. It is a brain entrainment tool, able to cultivate peoples’ emotional experience. A good soundtrack will completely alter your response to the visual images in a film. Gary said to me, “Go to a movie and try to be at the edge of your seat without music! Forget it!”

Gary asserts absolutely that music can awaken consciousness and reengage our hearts and spirits. His desire is to leave a musical legacy that becomes a new genre for people who require condensed, efficient ways of delivering consciousness in a five-minute gulp. He calls it “neuro-imaginal wisdom”; something to awaken your core heart and spirit to full attention. Let Gary challenge you: listen to the right music for 21 days, every day, five minutes a day, and it will cultivate the soul muscle for your capacity for basic human strength, such as the art of forgiveness and the art of gratitude and the art of presence.

“Neuro-imaginal wisdom could be an important genre,” says Gary, “For people who think they have no time for a weekend workshop or a book or even an hour long teleseminar.” You can find Gary’s work and that of other musicians and artists under his new non-profit: www.

A Word Of Warning: Just as the right music is a great force for good, bad music can be disastrous, mentally and physiologically.

You will have heard of the researches of Dorothy Retallack in the 1970s. She investigated the effects of music on plants.

Different types of music were utilized in her experiments. What she found was that acid rock music by Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, and Hendrix was extremely detrimental to the plants.

The other genres of music she experimented with: were classical music (Debussy), jazz (she use Louis Armstrong among others), and Indian (Ravi Shankar). The plants grew large and healthy, with the plants actually growing towards the radio for each of these three forms of music, just like they bend towards sunlight.

So do not underestimate the power of music to influence how you think and feel.

Make sure you choose only the good sort. Bad music is like bad food and bad water: it will make you sick!

2 thoughts on “Change Your Playlist, Change Your Life

  1. My playlist is mainly classical, I add to it all the time and I have been listening to it for a couple of years now; over the last few months I have been reading more and more articles on this subject; some friends don’t believe it can change your mood, but I have been proved right on many occasions…!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly! After nearly 18 years on Radio, with
    good contemporary christian music, mainly rock, pop, dance, I have always felt empowered through the music when on Air! I chose my own playlist’s, which is a term that has been around a long time in Radio, in Australia, well before the invention of MP3’s.
    My experience is that I was never tired, down, or negative in any way, I was always inspired, motivated, and had clarity, self assurance, confidence, creativivity, and was always planning how to better the world of my listeners, even in small ways, that is why I am going back to it this year, after a break, due some family illness. Thanks for your great article Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby, bless you!! Diana VC

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