What’s on your playlist?

I once had to sit in my office, waiting for the members of my congregation’s personnel committee to invite me into what was sure to be a difficult discussion. A misunderstanding with the wrong person had quickly spiraled out of control, and I was finally going to have the opportunity to engage in a solution-focused conversation. I was excited and anxious and angry and terrified, and I couldn’t go into the room with all those emotions roiling just below the surface. So I made a playlist on my phone, which included “Freebird,” “I Will Survive,” the title song from the musical Rent, and other high-energy, tail-kicking songs. I sang them LOUDLY. I punched the air. The music gave me an emotional workout, after which the endorphins were pumping and my feelings were more defined.

Creative Commons "Trolley and Daniel" by Rudi Riet is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Creative Commons “Trolley and Daniel” by Rudi Riet is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

As the mother of a preschooler, these days my playlist is mostly comprised of Daniel Tiger songs. But I have found Daniel’s short, simple ditties very helpful at times: “When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back and ask for help.” “It’s ok to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again.” “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a step back and count to four.”

Music can be a powerful motivator, a calming agent, and an empathetic expression of our grief, not to mention a community facilitator and even a force for social change. What needs to be on your playlist when you’re headed into a dreaded meeting, when you’re having trouble focusing, when your heart is weighed down with sadness? How can music help you feel connected and prepared and alive?

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