Music and Empathy
With every passing day, I’m becoming more and more convinced that listening to music increases empathy. Being exposed to ideas from cultures all over the world is an extremely valuable experience in a lot of different ways.
It only makes sense that exposure to different types of music and ideas can help someone grow into a more empathetic being that’s more capable of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Listening to Music Increases Empathy
First of all, when you throw on your favorite pair of headphones to sit back and relax there’s obviously a reason you chose to do that rather than something else.
Sometimes anecdotal evidence proves to be a pretty valuable way of looking at certain things. If you get stressed out to the point of a mental breakdown and listening to music is one of your ways to cope with it, by all means, keep doing it.
Whether or not this method of stress relief works for someone else shouldn’t really matter. As long as it’s helping you deal with whatever it is you’re going through at the time I support you in your decision.
Different Types of Music
As we all know, there are tons of different types of music out there so the key is finding the type that you vibe with the most. Especially when it comes to using music to cope with stress. If you get home after sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for two hours straight you probably don’t wanna increase your stress levels even more than they already are.
So turning on a fast, heavy punk or metal album might not help you in that instance. But if you can find something in the middle between super aggressive and too mellow, that’s the sweet spot that’ll do the trick.
Connection Between Stress Relief and Empathy
Now, you might be wondering why I brought up using music for stress relief. If you’ve thought of an idea, chances are someone else out of the 7 billion on the planet has also thought of that idea at least once.
Imagine 100 people out of 1 million using music as a coping mechanism. Already it would be safe to assume that you’d probably get along with someone in that group of 100 more than you would with someone who chooses to kick their dog and crack open a beer when they get home after a stressful day.
This illustrates a couple of things. One, you’re not alone in using music as a healthy way to deal with stress and other negativity that creeps into all of our minds. Two, that since other people are doing it that means they’re getting good results too, which shows that it works. Anecdotal or not.
Peace of Mind, One Piece at a Time
Once it becomes easier for you to experience momentary peace of mind, it becomes easier for you to be able to look at the guy who kicks his dog in a different way. You start to see that maybe there’s something deeper happening inside of that person that makes them feel justified in lashing out.
The Guy Who Kicks His Dog
The guy who kicks his dog didn’t come out of the womb kicking dogs. There were a lot of events that took place leading up to the first time he decided that was the best solution to his anger.
Once you start to trace back the events of that person’s life you start to see that it’s definitely not a short chain of events. The key here is to do your best to break the long chain of dealing with things that way. Trust me, I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been turning to music for a long time now as a way of dealing with stresses and such.
Inner vs. Outer Energy
Not only until recently did I start to realize that there was actually a reason other than “jamming out” that I was turning to music over and over again. Meditation is also a great practice for diving inward to sort out the turmoil that’s boiling up and over into the physical realm.
You might have heard the saying where “only once you’ve begun to help yourself, then you are in a position to start helping others.” It might sound selfish at first but when you look a little deeper you’ll see that it makes perfect sense.
If I’m unhappy with myself or position in life for whatever reason it’s harder to give my genuine self to those around me. On the other hand, if I’m at peace with myself more than not, I can more authentically move through life and spread positive energy rather than a half-ass disgruntled version of generosity.
If You Can Feel, You Can Empathize
This also extends into being able to empathize with those that you haven’t even met or ever been around on a regular basis. For example, a song about depression could resonate with you because you’ve experienced depression or because you know someone struggling with depression and therefore empathize with the despair.
You don’t have to have crippling depression to be able to recognize how much turmoil that could cause a person to have in their everyday life. If you listen to 17 by XXXtentacion, you can not only hear but feel the pain of loneliness and hopelessness. If that feeling resonates with you in any way, you’re capable of feeling.
If you’re capable of feeling, that means you’re capable of empathizing. My hope is that more people start to realize the importance of music bridging cultural gaps, mental differences, and overall just the value in being able to experience that whenever you press play on a song or album.
The Picture of the Puzzle Begins to Emerge
Don’t get me wrong, some music comes off as singling out a certain group of people in an angry and even violent way sometimes. Sometimes that is the case. Just like in the example of the guy who kicks his dog, this type of music was made by someone that’s expressing a similar sentiment and is also being driven at some level by a deep-seated discomfort or level of unhappiness.
Once you start to put the puzzle together you’ll see patterns like this everywhere. It starts to spark a greater sense of empathy in many different areas of your life. It’s not always gonna be perfect and we all slip up and have momentary slips, but the closer you can get to hold onto this information, the closer you are to keeping a piece of your mind at peace in your mind.
Please comment with any thoughts or questions and I will be sure to respond in a timely manner. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article!
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