Book Review: Your Playlist Can Change Your Life

We’re all aware how powerful music can be. But can a collection of songs really change more than just a moment here and a moment there?

By Heather Camlot

We’re all aware of how powerful music can be:  a toe-tapping song can make the daily commute more bearable; a pounding beat can help push you through your run; a mellow tune can calm you down.

But can a collection of songs really change more than just a moment here and a moment there? According to the new book Your Playlist Can Change Your Life (Sourcebooks, 2012), it most certainly can.

The science behind music and mood

There is much research proving music can be the elixir to physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.  In their new book, authors Galina Mindlin MD, Don DuRousseau and Joseph Cardillo explain how music affects every part of the brain and influences its control systems.

By figuring out which songs trigger certain mental states for you personally, you can rewire your brain to make your mind flow, alleviate anxiety, increase alertness, make you feel happier, sharpen your memory, get organized, improve your mood and live creatively. Not bad, right?

Playlists as wellness trainers

Obviously, musical tastes vary from person to person, and one song can – and most likely will – have a different meaning or associated memory. While there are suggested playlists throughout the book, what the authors really set out to do is guide you in creating your own playlist to nurture your way to personal wellness.

The first step, no matter what the aim of your playlist (boost happiness, reduce anxiety, etc.) is to pick songs that you truly enjoy. From there you must keep track of how a song affects you. Ingrain the ones with a positive effect and ditch the others. As you build your library of influential music, divide the songs into task-oriented playlists, such as “Driving Home” or “Going to Meetings,” and train your brain to send feel-good instructions to your body when you hear them.

Once you grasp the basic set up, delve into the chapter or chapters you’re most interested in to get a clearer understanding of the music-brain connection for those particular situations and to learn how to further fine-tune your playlists for biggest impact.

Admittedly, it’s not easy work to rewire your brain to react in a certain way to a certain song. The authors certainly impress upon readers the fact that it takes a great deal of relentless training to accomplish the end result.  But seeing as that end result could change your life, the effort (of constantly listening to music!) seems worthwhile.

The toughest part may be deciding what personal issue to work on first.

First published February 20, 2012, on

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