March 31, 2016

Joy Playlist: Music for Reclaiming our Smiles.

Matthew Wiebe/Unsplash

How many times have you thought, “that song reminds me of the time I/we [fill in the blank]?”

As a life coach, personal trainer, mother, friend and human being, I hear about the suffering of those around me. Whether or not I would find their struggles attention- or tear-worthy, they do.

Their experience matters to them, and so their pain matters to me.

I have learned that it is not my job to fix things for other people, but I do try to remind them of the tools they have available to alleviate some of their torment. Sometimes all it takes to get us out of affliction mode is a moment to disconnect from it, and reconnect to lighter times.

Music has a unique way of transporting us and transforming our mood, so I encourage people to make a Joy Playlist.

These are the songs that are guaranteed to bring a smile to our faces, if only for a short time. They may remind us of old memories, such as first love, achievements or a special person in our life, or they may just be songs that have a good beat and raise our spirits. They are not necessarily happy or meaningful songs; sad songs can remind us of happy times, too.

So that my tribe will know I follow my own suggestions, here are some of the songs on my Joy Playlist. It is a mixture of the sappy, sad, silly and sublime, and rarely does it fail to change my state to one of cheer and gratitude for the music and the emotions it evokes.


Although this is ostensibly a love song, I hear it as a call to be amazing and resilient. “But we’ve learned no matter what they dish out, It’s nothing, we can take it.” I drove my daughter crazy listening to this on our drive to compete in a World Powerlifting Meet two years ago. She hears the first two notes and screams, “No!”


Nothing meaningful here, folks, but this is one of my oldest daughter’s favorites. I can picture her doing this silly exaggerated dance every time I hear it.


Not upbeat at all, but some sad songs anchor you to happy memories, like the first slow sad song you danced to with your crush. This song reminds me of hours spent listening to my youngest learn to play this on the guitar, because we both think the acoustic version is beautiful.

I rewind back to the days of high school. Hairbrush microphone in hand singing at the top of my lungs with my best friend, Jenny. Making grandiose plans to have the “party of the century” on New Year’s Eve 1999.


“You’re my survival, you’re my living proof my love is alive and not dead.” Anyone who has been through a breakup or a loss and threatened never to love again can appreciate this feeling—no matter how fleeting. It also prompts me to engage in another spirit-lifting activity for me: dance. I could certainly elicit a laugh from most that might happen to walk in while I waltz solo around my gym to this song.


As is often the case with the Butthole Surfers, the lyrics make little sense, but make me laugh. Who can hear “And there were girls pettin’ squirrels, and there were squirrels smokin’ crack” and not at least smile? Don’t overthink it.


Odd that none of the love songs on my list remind me of lovers. I used to sing this one to my daughters when I was rocking her as an infant. I was filled with such an overwhelming sense of adoration and desire to be someone they would be proud of and respect. I can almost remember how they felt in my arms, even though the youngest is 16.


The lesson is that it’s time to come to your own rescue, but it also reminds me of all the love and support that surrounds me.


Another seemingly glum song, but it takes me back to visits to my grandmother’s apartment where she and I listened to music, sang and talked about life—and how much we wished we looked and sounded like Stevie Nicks.


I am not sure I should have admitted to this one, but here it is. If this does not bring a smile to my face, it is time for some drastic measures. I somehow regret I never mastered the dance.


As you can see, my playlist isn’t hip, but it works for me. Your playlist is for your benefit, so if you want to have the Frozen theme song on it, add it! Nobody is going to judge or edit when they see the smile it brings.

Music is an amazing anchor to great memories, and a quick boost for spirit. Add some physical movement and multiply the effect.

What songs do you want on your Joy Playlist?


Relephant Read:

Songs that Lift Me Up in My Darkest Hours: My Bouncing Forward Playlist.


Author: Lisa Foreman

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Matthew Wiebe/Unsplash

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