For the study, researchers Signy Sheldon and Julia Donahue played different types of music and asked participants to signal the moment they had a memory and then rate how recent the memory was, whether it involved other people, and its intensity.
As they explain in the peer-reviewed journal Memory and Cognition:
“Memories were accessed most quickly in response to musical cues that were highly arousing and positive in emotion.”
Apparently listening to music that’s positive and upbeat causes you to remember positive and upbeat memories. Since memories create emotions, there’s a direct connect between listening to such music and feeling happier.
But wait, there’s more. The study also reveal that quieter and sadder music (even when the sad music was intense) conjured up fewer memories and those memories less intense.
In other words, the part of your brain that reacts to music is already pre-programmed to make you feel happier. It’s in your DNA!
This is a huge deal because according to the neuroscientist Malini Mohana:
“Music is a common phenomenon that crosses all borders of nationality, race, and culture. A tool for arousing emotions and feelings, music is far more powerful than language.”
So, next time you feel you need a joy-boost, don’t reach for those motivational tapes or trot out your positive affirmations. Just put on some music that makes you feel good and, well, crank it up!
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.