Happiness Tip: Listen to Your Favorite Songs | Dr. Christine Carter

Happiness Tip: Listen to Your Favorite Songs


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“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” –Plato

Loads of research shows that music can uplift and restore the spirit–so much so, in fact, that I have a “go-to” playlist of music that makes me feel happy. At the top of my list? Ray Charles’s “I Can See Clearly Now”; Luce’s “Good Day,” Martin Sexton’s “Happy,” Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and Van Morrison’s “Full Force Gale.”

Take Action: With so many online services offering free music (I like Pandora and Spotify) it is easy to make a go-to happiness playlist. Make yours today. What’s on it? Music preference is highly individual, but knowing what’s on other people’s lists can help us get started.

Help others by listing the songs that uplift your spirit and bring you joy in the comment box below. (In addition, please contribute to the discussion on Facebook here.)

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  • http://www.raisinghappiness.com Dr. Christine Carter

    Hi Everyone! Here is the Spotify list of as many of your entries as possible – FREE! http://open.spotify.com/user/1242930644/playlist/13K650n8tRuuesYjEu5z6O

  • http://www.sixsimplerules.com/ David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Something happens when a song I already love is in a movie; somehow it becomes even more special for me. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty (Jerry Maguire); Tiny Dancer by Elton John (Almost Famous); Mr. Blue Sky by ELO (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); Best of My Love by the Emotions (Boogie Nights); In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel (Say Anything). Years ago I saw a commercial with for a baseball team with my favorite player and U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For was playing. It caused the song to jump from one I loved to become one of my all-time handful of favorites.
    Thanks for your usual, great tips.
    Best regards,

  • Postit33

    “Happy” by the Rolling Stones

  • Michelle Fannon

    Sometimes, songs that make me happy do so because of their melody and beat, but not so much because of the lyrics.  Two songs in that category that never fail to lift my spirits are: “Holiday” by Green Day and “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay.   
    One other song that has a permanent place on my playlist, but where the lyrics fit the theme is  “Happy Together” by The Turtles.

  • ccc

    Thank you. I’m so pleased to see listening to your favourite music as a tip for happiness!

    Your readers (or teenagers you know) might be interested in http://www.tuneinnotout.com/music/  
    a youth health website that features an innovative music page to connect with young people where they’re mostly at – music. This page is based on my present PhD research about how young people with mental health struggles engage with music. I also use music to work with the young people. AND dont forget to download the factsheet too!

    You cannot imagine how excited I am that we’re all tuning into our fav songs!

  • Dr. Patricia Downes

    Just recently, the song “I whistle a happy tune” came to mind. I started singing it and noted that it is  an incredibly positive song. I also like ” I love you,tomorrow’ .I am not sure that is the name of the song but I find it a wonderful song as sung by Annie.
    I  also like  the catchy and up tempo song ” Do you remember”(september) by Earth,Wind and Fire  

  • Michelle Chappel

    Thank you so much for this article!  I have a PHD in psychology from Princeton, but left academics to pursue a career writing/performing positive music.  In case anyone would like to hear a new song that will inspire you to follow your heart, here’s A LIttle Bit of Heaven: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLXfMlGGRBc&feature=plcp

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      wonderful! thanks for sharing!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AQZFPNSXTUMK75F4N37S7ZXMNQ Joely

    Carol King’s Jazz Man. LOUDLY.

  • SlyGirl

    Sly and the Family Stone always pick me up with “Life,” “I Want to Take You Higher,” and Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again” among others.

  • Ellen Cavanaugh


    Great advice!  Let me know if you ever assemble a happiness music playlist on youtube – I would definitely subscribe!  

    Your readers may also be interested in http://www.yamahainstitute.org/ that uses state of the art scientific investigations to explore recreational music making as an effective lifestyle enhancement strategy.  

    Dr. Bittman is one of the collaborators on the upcoming Grow a Generation Blog on Musically Gifted Children.

  • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

    I love all of these suggestions! Keep them coming. I’ll compile a spotify playlist of these songs, and the ones that people are posting on Facebook to share with everyone…

  • M Mender

    The song for me and my beautiful grand daughter is The Promise by When in Rome we know the words and we sing it to each other over the phone or when we hear it on the radio we call each other because it is our song!!  Karly is the best grand daughter in the whole world.

  • http://www.50gooddeeds.com/ Lisa Bendall

    I have an entire “HappyMix” playlist on my iPod, so I don’t really know where to start! Some highlights: “Beautiful Life” (Ace of Base), “All I Really Need” (Wilkinsons), “The Best is Yet to Come” (Luba), “Can’t Keep It In” (Cat Stevens), “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Queen), “Here Comes the Sun” (Beatles), “Hold On Tight” (Electric Light Orchestra), “I’ll be There for You” (Rembrandts), “I Gotta Feeling” (Black Eyed Peas), “Learn How to Fall” (Paul Simon),”Life is a Highway” (Tom Cochrane), “One Day” (Matisyahu), “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” (Annie Lennox & Al Green), “Ready” (Cat Stevens), “There Must Be an Angel” (Eurythmics), “What a Wonderful World” (Ramons version!!)

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Nisula

    Allegria from Cique du Soleil

  • Kathydoherty77

    The Land of Make Believe, Chuck Mangione and Esther Satterfield

  • http://twitter.com/midlifemixtape Nancy Davis Kho

    You know I love this post, Ms. Christine. As a firm believer in the playlist, I’m hard pressed to pick a single song…but “Locked Out” by Crowded House, “Breathe (Don’t Stop)” by the Jungle Brothers with Mr Oh, and “Heart Like a Kick Drum” by the Avett Brothers will never steer you wrong…

  • Cmansfields

    “Welcome” by Chris Andrea Guerra (theme song of pursuit of happiness) Great music to wake up to….

  • MLR

    can you list/share your “happiness playlist” for those of us on Pandora and Spotify?  :) Thanks!