Song Therapy to Get Out of a Rut

I developed a strategy yesterday for mentally returning to a good place. I didn’t know I was doing it, but in the morning before work (I didn’t work until 3pm) I was very high on life, having a recent reference point from an amazing festival all last week, and found myself enjoying the moment, when 2 weeks ago work would have loomed over me negatively. And I have a pretty upbeat job selling running shoes; retail though it is, I would categorize it as generally enjoyable.

So anyway I went for a run in the high noon heat and danced to the music, sang along a few lines because thats what I wanted to do, when I would normally be like, “but what if someone sees me and thinks I’m weird?” (Though I’ve probably been holding myself back for no reason; I’m sure some people already think I’m a bit odd).

When I felt a pulse of energy or excitement, I raised my arms to the sky, breathed in deep and took it all in. I passed an older gentleman running and would have kept my head straight forward two weeks ago, but yesterday I turned, smiled, and waved. He took out his earbuds and joked, “I was young once too”, and I laughed and told him if he keeps it up he’ll stay young. I ungracefully hurdled over a lawn sign.

Afterwards I’m happy, feeling accomplished (from the run), excited about my new blog! I just so happen to love this song “Rewind” by the Rascal Flatts right now, and I inadvertently bumped it at my highest moment (keep in mind I am not talking about drugs when I say high). Here’s the song:

And I was still quite happy well into work, and it was not so much negativity as it was tiredness that hit me around 5 or 6pm. I was like, damn being happy takes a lot of energy… or running 5 miles during the hottest part of the day. One of the two.

At points throughout the day pangs of fear would rise in me, as if its scary to be excited about life. The higher you fly, the further you can fall, so what—just stay neutral? I don’t think that is the answer, I think perpetual happiness is a better goal. So I tried to ignore the negatively.

What if my blog fails: who cares, what have I lost? And worrying about it doesn’t help anyway. What if at my happiest moment, it all comes crashing down? Well, at least I was happy before. What if I am judged for what I post? I am sure I am! And the best feeling is not caring at all and doing it for me.

But sometimes just rationalizing things is not enough, because then I engage in a conversation with myself, and in doing so, allow a platform for the negativity. Okay long setup, but back to the strategy I stumbled upon. Every time I started to whistle the tune to “Rewind” I would return mentally to my happy state of mind, from the best part of my day. Singing the lyrics had an even better effect (though not wanting to scare away repressed Massachusetts customers, I limited that to the back room amidst the shoe box audience).

I don’t know, maybe there’s a psychological basis for my observation, if I have any Psychologists reading (or maybe a freshman year pschology major who knows it all, and just needs to complete the other 6 years of study as a formality). But anyway, try it out and let me know if it works for you.

It does, however, take energy to be happy, and at points yesterday I had to let myself relax, perhaps slipping into neutral. I’m expecting as I train myself it will become default to be excited about life instead of having to coax myself back into position.

I’ve never really been an unhappy person, I’ve just found that I tend to fall into a routine, and not enjoy life as much as I could. It is cool to look for opportunities to have fun in a normally mundane situation. And really there is infinite amounts of things to be excited about.

So maybe no day should be normal. If we expect our days to be the same old drudgery, they will be. But two seemingly uniform days where I write, run, then work do not have to be identical; in fact it is impossible for them to be identical. Yet it is easy to feel like you are Bill Murray stuck in Punxsutawney indefinitely. But if you look for opportunities to be excited about “the same old stuff”, I am pretty sure you’ll find them.

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2 thoughts on “Song Therapy to Get Out of a Rut

  1. I like this a lot Joe! I think the song therapy really works. I have a theory that it does because the exact opposite of it works and we all know it. Example, I’ve been in a rut for a while now where my life took a deep turn and my future and dreams were basically shut down. I’m sure we all go through situations in life that kicks us in the face with a very spiky cleat. So we can all relate to being in a car or anywhere really, as a song comes on that we experienced in another happy or sad time in our lives. The song happens to ruin my day if the thought of it is negative, if I heard it during tough times or with somebody who isn’t there for us anymore. It can really take my day 180 degrees the other way in a matter of seconds. So I like your reversed psychology, I do have a lot of things right now that I love doing and I’m passionate about. Maybe if I associate the action with the music, I will eventually be able to turn a gloomy day into a memorable one 🙂

    • That’s a great point Andrea, I hadn’t thought of it in reverse, and there’s always that “I hate this song!” feeling… especially when you once loved it for particular reasons. Yea, I just stumbled across the effect when I was reenergized after listening to a song I loved, that I had also listened to earlier while at the peak of my happiness. You could start everyday off with the right song, like a jolt of coffee! haha

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