Staring blankly into the face of the new year poses interesting complications for anyone looking for a way to be smarter, happier, better. Self-imposed limitations and excuses get in the way of progress, but in the midst of this uphill battle known as the “The New Year’s Resolution,” there is one ally that can help move self-improvement forward, and that is music. Music is powerful. Music can make you better.

Music Can Increase Concentration:

You have a thirteen page term paper due tomorrow, and you, like me, waited until the last possible minute to conjure some disassembled excuse for a piece of writing. You look up Mozart on Spotify because you read a neat article somewhere about the effects of music on the brain and how classical music can trigger acute concentration. “Serenade No. 13 in G Major” begins to play through your computer speakers, and, somehow, your fingers begin to type out perfection on the screen.

The “Mozart Effect,” as it is known among Music Psychology practitioners, is a theory that states that cognitive tasks will improve after listening to Mozart for fifteen minutes. It helps the brain. And listening to classical music is like taking a vacation. Emotions and visualizations stem from minutes of listening to a piece of orchestral music. It also provides a pretty brainy topic of party conversation, and who doesn’t want to be smarter? It’s attractive. You can’t say I’ve never helped you.

Source: Music Psychology (Wikipedia)

Music Can Make You Happy:

Your boyfriend or girlfriend of two years decides it’s over. After all you’ve done for her! You once went to three grocery stores to find the ingredients for vegan carob chip cookies for him! You watched every terrible chick flick on Netflix until your eyes bled for her! How could this happen?! It’s okay. First of all, you’re probably better off, etc. etc. Now listen to your favorite song. It will make you feel better.

According to Music Therapy studies, people who listen to music experience a decrease in a stress hormone known as cortisol. Activity in the frontal lobe of the brain also occurs, which helps in the increasing of positive attitudes. Music also discharges dopamine in the brain, a reward hormone that releases when you eat something delicious or smell something good. Turn on the tunes to turn off the bad mood. I highly recommend “San Francisco” by The Mowgli’s to start.

Source: Music Therapy (Wikipedia) & “The Power of Music, Tapped in a Cubicle” (The New York Times)

Music Can Make You More Creative:

In the days after the holidays, you assess your gift bundle acquired from friends, relatives, and coworkers. Grandma June decided to skip the handmade scarf this year and uncharacteristically gave you canvas paper and paint brushes. To avoid the uncomfortable conversation with your Grandma June about your inability to draw anything more than a stick figure, you silently take the gift and hide it in the closet. But curiosity combined with a rainy day somehow possesses you to bring out the paper and brushes. But where do you start? Where does the creativity spawn?

Music can produce a happy and positive effect on the brain, which in turn will make the mind sharper, more organized, and ready for creativity. Music can expand the mind and allow free thinking. Putting brush to canvas while listening to music can bring out your inner Rembrandt, or at least make you a little less intimidated to draw that stick figure with flare. Try listening to Cloud Nothings’ new album Attack on Memory for creative inspiration.

Source: “The Effect of Music Listening on Work Performance” (Psychology of Music)

Music Can Help You Sell Things:

Remember that commercial in the early-nineties that featured some strange flavored Mountain Dew and the four-part harmony of the iconic classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen? I’m sure you have a vivid picture in your brain, but it’s not your astute memory for anything trivial that is recalling this thought. It’s the perfectly executed song and product pairing that the advertisers brilliantly concocted to, undoubtedly, sell millions of bottles of the sugary drink.

Emotional and cognitive connections to music can provide a strong link between the product and the consumer. Sure, it seems like a dirty, low-down trick to use emotions to push product, but without music and the personal weight it carries, that trash bag or brand of gum would be a harder sell, if not a more unfulfilling one. We’ve all been subject to music persuasion. At your next garage sale, play a little John Williams’ Indiana Jones score or Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future theme music while you’re modeling last year’s jeans for the unsuspecting customer. If the sewn on checkerboard patches on the knees won’t drive the sale, the music will.

Source: Music Psychology – Music In Marketing (Wikipedia)

Music Can Motivate Exercise:

That treadmill you got last holiday will be used someday. It’s just not the right time. You had a long day. Those holiday cookies in the office have your name all over them. Maybe next week. Maybe next year. You’ll start using it then. No more excuses. Your iPod is waiting to be used. It wants to feel the rush of wind on its LCD screen. It longs to be used for long periods of physical strain. Your music is ready to push you. Admit it, you want it to.

Working out to music is so much more motivating than running in silence. Music allows you to concentrate on the good, upbeat rhythms of Ke$ha’s new album, Warrior, for instance, and less on the excruciating pain surging through your legs. It’s a powerful tool to increase the stamina and decrease the stress. It’s also a nice way to shut off the world and ward off all the gym rats who will want your number after you trim down your hot bod. Again, you can’t say I’ve never helped you.

Source: “Tuning Up Your Workout: Music Can Motivate You To Take It Up a Notch” (