My hands down favorite vacation would have be my trip to Disney World with my boyfriend back in 2013.
I knew I wanted a memento from that fantastic week, our first real vacation together.
I could have bought a t-shirt, but I knew that it would just end up where all old t-shirts go to die: the workout clothes pile.
A stuffed animal would end up high on a closet shelf, just waiting to creep me out every time I turned on the light.
A keyring would chip off, leaving Mickey Mouse with half an ear.
No, I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a song.
Because I knew of one of the most powerful ways to capture a moment in time was through the memory of music .
So I came home and scoured the internet for the soundtrack to one of my favorite songs: the theme music from the ride Soarin’ .
Here’s the music, in case you are unfamiliar or can’t remember. It still sends a chill of excitement up my spine every time I hear it:
It was the best 99 cents I’ve ever spent.
Every time that song plays, I’m flushed with the memory of that trip.
I remember my boyfriend and I holding hands walking down Main Street USA. Of us lounging at the hotel, laughing because I accidentally held down the button on my camera, and ended up taking 93 pictures of him swimming in the pool. The deep shade of red he turned when Philomena, the lady checking us into the hotel, gave me a pin saying, “Congratulations”, just in case he decided to pop the question sometime on our trip. I remember the exhilaration of Soarin’ , and the meaning behind it. At the time I was filled with dreams of moving to California, and the ride felt like peek into a future life. (In fact, that dream just came true a few months ago – here’s the full story )
Music has the magical ability to capture memory and emotion, like a time capsule you can reopen again and again.
When I first met my boyfriend, I knew he was something special.
But the moment I started to spend more time with him, I was hooked. He bewildered me. It felt like time moved faster when I was around him. And I never wanted the feeling to end.
So I made a small mixtape of 4 of my favorite love songs and I played them over and over again. They were the songs that made me feel like love was not only possible, but eminent. They put a big doofy grin on my face every time they came up on my Itunes. They made me feel like I was already in love, even before our very first date.
Here’s the magic line-up:
People All Get Ready by The Frames
Fool Says by M. Ward
If I Fall by Aqualung
The Perpetual Self, or “What Would Saul Alinsky Do? by Sufjan Stevens
And now, over 5 years later, I play these songs and I blush. Just a few notes and I’m transported into the world of falling in love.
Lorde released her album Pure Heroine when I was building Soultiply. I coded the website rockin’ out to those songs; they remind me of my strength and ability to persevere.
Sufjan Steven’s newest albumn Carrie and Lowell was the anthem of our move from New York to LA ; an album filled with uncertainty, and the release of painful memories. A catharsis for us both.
We all have songs like these, right? There is a reason why us millennials love blaring our 90’s Pandora station ; The Counting Crows and Matchbox Twenty were our childhood. They transport us to a world of simpler times.
But what if we could leverage the power of music for our greater good? What if we recognized and harnessed this power? How can we maximize this incredible memory-capturing potential?
I earned my college degree in the recollection of memories.
If you are unfamiliar with Method Acting, the Lee Strasberg Studio defines it as, “the creative play of the affective memory in the actor’s imagination as the foundation for (re)experiencing on stage”.
(Re)experiencing is when an actor calls upon a visceral memory that elicits an emotional response to inform a performance. It creates honesty in the work because the emotions are rooted in real-life circumstance. It’s a skill that takes a lifetime to develop and has created some of the most truthful and iconic performances known to man.
But through my studies, I discovered that The Method wasn’t limited to the stage or screen.
It is a powerful mental tool, which if used carefully and correctly, can be used positively in real life. Sense Memory allows you to recall emotions by focusing on the sight, sound, taste, smell and touch of the experience. And sound is a tremendous component of sense memory, hence why music is so powerful in the (re)experience of emotions. The moment that you allow yourself to physically relax and focus on the recollection of your five senses from a specific memory, real emotion will surface.
It might take some time and practice to recognize which emotions typically correspond with specific memories. One memory might make you cry one time, and laugh the next. While the uncertainty is thrilling to watch in the theatre, for the purpose of our positive well being it’s especially useful to focus on memories that you know already have positive associations in your mind. Remember – we are looking to maximize the good, not stumble into the dark holes of our past. We write our own stories.
Not all memories are created equal. We all have songs that remind us of our pain and our loss. Remember the song Wherever You Will Go by The Calling? This song seemed to play non-stop during the period of time following my grandmother’s passing. I wasn’t particularly close with my grandmother, but that song seemed to follow me wherever I went. (Appropriate I assume, hence the name…) Whenever I hear that song, I am transported to that moment in time as a scared middle schooler, reckoning with my first memories of loss.
But now that we understand the power of music and memory, we can use these tools to our advantage. During our times of success and happiness, we can pair music with the appropriate memories to access this strength when we need it most. Here are a few ideas on how you can leverage positive musical associations for the future:
1. Use Music to Reignite Positive Relationships
Do you have your own set of “falling in love” songs like I listed before? Use them to strengthen your relationship!
Relationships are not always puppies and sunshine – they require dedicated time and care.
But if you find yourself losing that special spark with your partner, listen to the songs that you heard when you first fell in love. Let your mind be transported to that time.
Remember his shy smile. Remember the way that he looked at you, the way that your heart raced. Look at him now. Can you access those feelings again? If not, what issues need to be addressed, what healing needs to occur?
This method can put small spats and disagreements in perspective and remind you both why you have chosen each other. Because each day IS a choice – a choice to renew, strengthen and grow in love.
2. Use Music to Remind you of your Strength
What music did you listen to when you accomplished something that you were very proud of?
If the answer doesn’t seem immediately apparent, think long and hard. Try to remember some of the other senses associated with that moment in time (sight, taste, touch, smell) to unlock your musical memory.
Once you have identified the song, it’s time to put it to work!
Anytime you are feeling stuck or feeling a dip in your self-confidence, listen to those songs . Let them seep into your bones; let them remind you of your tremendous capability and potential for power. You did it once, you can do it again. Let the melody fuel your strength.
3. Use Music as an Instant Mood Boost
Create a playlist with 20 of your favorite happy memory songs and blare them loud and proud when you are feeling down.
Ask yourself to rate your mood on a scale of 1-10 before you start listening to the music. At the end of the 20 song playlist, rate your mood again.
I have yet to find someone who hasn’t raised their mood by listening to their Happiness Playlist! It’s that good.
Emotion is infectious!
Are you aware of certain times of the day where your mood usually dips? Try to integrate your Happiness Playlist into your routine, to ward off any foul feelings.
When I used to live in New York, I hated riding the Subway home during rush hour. But once I put on my head phones and listened to my Happiness Playlist, the ride was much more enjoyable.
An emotion is a state of mind that can be repeated and reused. There are no quotas, no limits and no price tags on positive emotions. The trick is learning how to access them on command and use them to your benefit.
Allow music to do the work for you and you’ll be singing a happy tune in no time.
Does anyone even use Google+? Seriously, I’m wondering. I want the Google Gods to love Soultiply, so you can .