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Is Your Playlist Due For Some Detoxification?

I was on the bus to work one morning, when a man boarded a couple of stops later. It did not take long to realise that he was mentally unsound from the way he was mumbling and shouting vulgarities to himself incessantly, for a whole dreaded – what seemed like eternity – 45 minutes journey. By the time I alighted, my head was heavy and antagonised from the verbal abuse (though not directed at me). Stepping into the office, I struggled with the keys, rattled the doorknob, and slammed the door open, causing a colleague to jump where she was sitting. Even the seconds and minutes following it, I did not think of my behaviour to be significantly deviant enough to apologise or to reflect on.

My perception of the aggressiveness of my actions was diminished and perhaps even numbed in the state of mind I was in. It was only hours later that I realised how inappropriate, not to mention unprofessional, my behaviour was.

From this episode, I experienced a huge contrast in what I perceived as an acceptable level of standard of behaviour and sensibility, albeit temporary, that was caused by what was being fed through my ears. It made me reflect on the effect the contents that enter my ears have on my mind,  and its potential of silently shaping it with long-term exposure.

Till today, I get reminded of this lesson when I add music to my playlist.

It is almost appealing to listen to sob songs that glorifies love woes, heartaches, brokeness, rejection, disappointments and all other similarly depressing issues, especially when you are downcast and perhaps mistakenly trying to find comfort in listening to such songs that your emotions can relate to. But how often do we walk away feeling worse instead of better?

Then we have those songs that have been welcome with open arms into mainstream, filled with expletives, damning values and behaviour that encourages violence, abuse, revenge, disloyalty – just to name a fraction. While some have lyrics that if you really listen to, are just…completely ridiculous (cuing knowing looks all around). Unlike books and movies which by and large we give one-time attention to, a song, by its nature of entertainment, is not only on repeat but also verbally regurgitated, in the process possessing the abilty to keep reinforcing its message in our minds.

Studies have proven that constant exposure to such negative music have the potential to increase aggressiveness and desensitize the listener to unhealthy values. While the former is more distinctive and identifiable, the latter victimizes the unsuspecting listener –  even those who are able to discern that the messages are unhealthy – who is just innocently enjoying his daily music. This victim represents an entire generation and generations to come.

Earlier this year, I was tuned in to the K-LOVE radio station that I downloaded as a mobile app (here I disclaim that I have no affiliation with this radio station). The station launched a 30-day challenge to listen to only positive and encouraging music and to share with them the difference it made. I thought that was wonderful! Yes, we can take an active role in choosing the kind of songs we listen to, as opposed to being passive about it. This does not necessitate forsaking the genre you are partial to; most genres, like many things in life, comes in a mix of good and bad. So why not take up this challenge?

While I still do have appreciation for mainstream music, I consciously choose to avoid music that will give fuel to my negative emotions by removing the toxic ones in my playlist and replacing them with mind-nourishing and soul-lifting ones that are in fact aplenty if we look for them in the right places!

Have a look at your playlist, perhaps it is due for some detoxification?


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