The connection between music and motivation

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why doesn't it work sometimes!

If you usually listen to music while exercising then am sure you already know that good music can result in increased performance. One day i was in the gym listening to tracks that were extremely motivating. A friend came and asked me about the tracks am listening to and so i handed him the earphones to listen but to my surprise nothing happened!

The guy didn't find the tracks motivating and instead he replied saying that he prefers a different type of music. Now the question is why would a motivating song fail to make someone motivated?

Few days later i went to the gym while listening to the same song only to discover that it failed to motivate me this time. And no it wasn't anything related to being bored of the song because it was on Ipod for few days only.

Why did the same song that motivated me so much have no effect that day?

The connection between music and motivation

In order to understand what's going on you first need to know why music can sometimes be motivating. What do you think will happen if a friend of yours kept telling you that you are really a smart person?

You will certainly feel good unless you believe that you are not smart and that he is complimenting you. So the things people tell us only affect us if we believed in them or if they matched our beliefs.

In other words your belief system determines the extent with which you get affected by people's words. (see also How to change negative beliefs)

So what does all this have to do with music and motivation?

Your subconscious mind can't really tell the difference between listening to words coming from a person or words coming from a song. If the words the you are receiving through your ears matched your positive beliefs you will certainly get motivated.

The extent of motivation will depend on the extent with which the song matches your beliefs. Now i am sure you are asking yourself why do some sound tracks (that have no vocals) motivate you so much.

Its because the way your mind interprets those sound tracks results in an output that perfectly matches your belief system. Your mind will always try to give a meaning to the music you are listening to and if those meanings were very close to your positive beliefs then you will get motivated.

Why can the same song motivate you one day but not the other?

Do you know that some of your beliefs are extremely volatile and can change overnight?

Here is a very popular example: You went to a job interview and did really well so you believed you will get accepted. 3 days passed and you got no phone call from the employer so you started to believe that you won't get the job. Then one day later you got a phone call asking you to come for another interview.

Did you notice how your beliefs changed in such a case?

Day 1: I did so well, i will get accepted
Day 2,3: Looks like i did something wrong
Day 5: i will get the job

This is why listening to a song that talks about hope on the first day might make you motivated while on day 3 it might seem like nonsense and fail to motivate you.

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Want to know more?

Why do we get bored of songs?

How music affects people moods

Everything you need to know about music psychology

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