When I started writing my book Life in Five Senses, I knew that, for me, one of my neglected senses was my sense of hearing. I wanted to learn more to tune in to my hearing—and to do that, music seemed like the obvious place to begin.
All human societies have music, and music plays an important role in activities as varied as dancing, physical work, military exercises, and religious observances. Music can help us stay calm, manage pain, stay focused, and feel energized. It can make exertion seem less strenuous—which is why so many people listen to music when they exercise.
Despite these reasons, and despite the fact that music is so universally popular, I almost never listened to music. However, because I knew that listening to an upbeat song was an easy way to get a quick hit of energy and cheer, I decided to create an “Audio Apothecary,” a special playlist of songs that gave me a boost.
For inspiration, I went to YouTube to listen to Dolly Parton singing “Mule Skinner Blues.” It made me so happy to hear this cheerful, yodeling song—hey, hey! That song was my first addition to my Audio Apothecary. Over time, I added more songs, such as:
It’s fun to create a playlist to create whatever mood you want evoke, such as…
- Happy and energetic
- Confident and powerful
- Nostalgic—check out the Nostalgia Machine for ideas
Listening to a favorite song gives us a hit of dopamine—just like winning a bet or biting into a chocolate bar. Even better, we can indulge in music as much as we want. Unlike many treats, music is healthy even in large doses (as long as the volume isn’t turned up too loud).
If you want to listen to my “Audio Apothecary,” it’s available on Spotify. You can listen for free.
- Open Spotify
- Click on “Search” to search for “gretchenrubin” (no space)
- Click the “Profiles” button on the top bar
- Click on “gretchenrubin” and then “Gretchen Rubin’s Audio Apothecary”
To create your own Audio Apothecary, first identify the mood you want to evoke. If you listen to music often, pay attention to how each song makes you feel, and add songs to your playlist over time.
If you don’t listen to music regularly, start with one song—it might be a favorite from high school, a track from a movie, or something you heard on the radio—and look for similar or “suggested” songs on whichever audio player you use. Download a song identification app to help you make note of songs you hear out in the wild.
If you’d like to learn more about tuning in to your five senses for energy, calm, creativity, luck, and love, take a look at my book Life in Five Senses.