For over one and a half years now I have used a Happiness Playlist almost every day and I can quite confidently say that it has boosted the quality of my life immensely. I have used a simple playlist to improve my creative output on what otherwise would have been "off-days", to get to a state of "flow" when writing, to unwind after stressfull days, and to improve my mood anytime, any day.
Here's how you can do the same.
What is a Happiness Playlist?
I don't have any sources to back this up, but I think most of us would agree that music can amplify or alter how we feel (as an example see here).
From experience, we might know that listening to sad songs when we are sad can amplify the emotion, and similarly, we might put on fast-paced music when we go running or heavy metal when going for particularly heavy workouts in the gym.
A happiness playlist is nothing more than a playlist designed specifically to make you happy (or at the very least improve your mood). Despite the simplicity of the idea, it can be quite powerful when used right.
I was introduced to the idea, by a family member who works in creative advertising. Her job is to show up to work and each day deliver new, creative campaigns. If she has a bad morning, her whole day is ruined as her creative output is halted.
To combat this she came up with pre-making a playlist to cheer her up, and then systematically putting it on whenever she didn't feel on top of her game. She has been doing it for much much longer than I and can attest to its success.
How to Make a Happiness Playlist
The most important thing is that you make it yourself. The secret to success is that the playlist is hyper-personalised. It is yours and yours only. Showing you my playlist would be pointless, as you are not going to like the same songs as I do.
Here's how you can make your own:
- Open up your streaming/music service of choice.
- Create a new playlist called Happiness Playlist
- Add as many songs you can think of that really lift your mood. Here are 5 prompts to help you get started:
- Which songs never fail to make you dance?
- Which songs are your guilty pleasures?
- What were your favourite songs when you were a teenager?
- Are there any songs you associate with great memories?
- Which songs make you feel on top of the world?
- The playlist is a never-ending work in progress, so keep adding songs that make you happy to the playlist, and don't feel afraid of removing the ones that you get tired of. The whole purpose of the playlist is to make you happy, so if there are songs in there that don't serve that purpose you have to get rid of them.
- Sort the playlist by 'date added' so the newest songs play first. This is great for when the playlist starts to get long. Your taste and what makes you happy is likely to change, so this also helps keep the playlist 'fresh'.
How Should You Use Your Happiness Playlist?
Use it regularly and make it easy to find when you need it.
I like to listen to my playlist in the shower in the morning to help me get the day started, while I am cooking in the evening to unwind after a long day, usually accompanied by a glass of wine.
It is not so important when exactly you listen to your playlist - the important part is that you recognise when you need to use it, and then listen to it subsequently.
That could be after particularly long days at work, or on mornings where it seems to be impossible to get out of bed, or in any other situation where your mental state prevents you from performing optimally.
To make using it a proper habit, you need to make it as easy as possible for yourself to use your playlist. Personally, I use Spotify, for my playlist and I store a shortcut to the playlist on the home screen of my phone so I can access the playlist directly from the home screen.
The same could also be achieved by creating a bookmark for your playlist or re-ordering your playlists so this one shows up as the first one.
- Make it personal. The playlist is for your happiness only.
- Make it easy to access.
- Recognise when you need to use it - and make sure do.
- Keep it fresh by adding new songs and removing old ones.