Several mornings ago I was driving to work in a horrible mood. The kind of morning that started off with a late wake up, coffee spilled down the front of your shirt and stubbing of two toes with two kids in the background complaining that they don’t want the breakfast you made, they want the super sugary, good for nothing, marketed directly to children kind of cereal that I don’t even buy. What’s wrong with homemade oatmeal? Honestly!

So we finally get to the car and I’m ready to make a left handed turn onto HWY 95 from my residential street. I figured I had less than 2 seconds to get in front of a major group of vehicles that were likely coming from Lake Havasu City. Yes, I was the jerk that pulled out in front of you all. And yes, Mike from the Health Department, I saw you too (thanks for the scary honk). There I was trying to keep up with the monstrous wolf pack, cranky as can be and wishing I had more coffee. That’s when something awe-inspiring happened. My daughter turned on the music.

Instantly, I felt better. My face relaxed, my hands opened their death grip on the steering wheel and I slowed down to a modest 60MPH, letting the wolf pack pass me by. My head nodded and I started singing along to the dulcet tones of Iron and Wine.

“I should get a Tajine to cook in,” thought I. “What an inspiring thought,” I replied… to myself.

That is the exact moment it hit me. Right as I was passing the outrageously large sign for the casino… Inspiration is better with a soundtrack! The music that I was listening too had calmed me and my negative emotions gave way to creative ones. Instantly flashes of the best musicals popped into my head. It makes sense doesn’t it? When a character in a musical experiences an emotion (like inspiration), they suddenly break out in song and dance. Don’t pretend like you never wanted to do it. Just last week radio DJ Josh Savino erupted in dance when he realized he had the power to host the Miss La Paz County Scholarship Pageant. In fact, I will be the first to admit that I occasionally sing “I Feel Pretty” or “Seventy-Six Trombones” and most often “Good Morning” when the mood strikes.

So why music? That morning I got into work and checked Facebook (disclaimer: I run all social media accounts for work so that is part of my everyday job) and saw that someone had posted this:

A recent study reveals something I’ve believed for a long time…listening to your favorite songs increases optimism and joy while squashing negativity and sadness. That’s because hearing tunes you love triggers the release of feel-good endorphins in the brain.”  

Reeeaaahhee he he heeaaaly? I did some research and sure enough, there is a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center that shows a relationship between music and the cardiovascular system. It seems as though the blood vessels dilate (expand) when participants of the study listened to certain types of music. The article went on to say that endorphins likely played a role in the overall good feeling we get when listening to certain types of music. Also interesting was the fact that when participants listened to country music, they experienced the most dilation of blood vessels but when they listened to heavy metal, the blood vessels constricted.

My experience that morning was excellent. I decided that I wanted to play around with different songs and see which had the most calming and inspiring effect on me. In short, what would be my ultimate inspiration soundtrack? I came up with this short list:

  1. Great Heights, Iron and Wine
  2. Cinder and Smoke, Iron and Wine
  3. Love and Some Verses, Iron and Wine
  4. The Shrine, Fleet Foxes
  5. Grown Ocean, Fleet Foxes
  6. Battery Kinzie, Fleet Foxes
  7. Bedouin Dress, Fleet Foxes
  8. Skinny Love, Bon Iver
  9. Lovers in Love, Portugal. The Man
  10. The Sun, Portugal. The Man
  11. Got it all, Portugal. The Man
  12. So American, Portugal. The Man
  13. Home, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  14. Scarbough Fair, Simon and Garfunkel

Is this an odd list to you? I’m super curious to know what you would put on your list. What would be your top inspiring song? Let me know in the comments below and keeping being inspired.