Everything around us affects us. Our experiences, the experiences of others, and everything that is captured by our senses affects us. Let’s call these the external stimuli. Now, let’s say for reasons known or unknown you’re really sad (market crashing is a good enough reason for me). What can you do about it? I have found one solution that seems to work for me. I use the external stimuli to my advantage. Since I know that I’m affected by everything around me, I change something to affect me in a way that I can benefit. In the case of being really sad, I take advantage of the feedback loop in music. After listening to happy music for some time, I invariably become less sad.
This principle has been used for ages by rulers of all types. For example, there are many patriotic songs (in cultures I know) about the homeland. Although they may have been created because of people’s urge to express their love toward their country, I believe it is also likely that they were created to inspire and influence rather than express at least in some cases. I call this music with an agenda. The same applies to every other form of art. Knowing this why not take advantage of it? Let’s say you’re really tired and haven’t slept all night and are barely moving around. Try a few nice happy, fast songs that make you want to get up and dance and notice if that makes any difference. The opposite is also true (classical or quiet music for relaxing). Because of the feedback loops, I have stopped watching TV because I recognized that there is little positive stimuli coming out of the TV box.
The examples are endless and even though you may be tempted to feed your mood, take a moment and think about it. In my first few years away from home, I missed my family very much in some cases feeling physical pain from homesickness. One day my friend sent me a CD of sad songs all related to longing. For a few weeks I could not stop listening to these songs and missing my family and friends even more. This is not constructive and not something I would do today.
One final note is that creative work also has a feedback loop. This is a lesson I’m learning as I write my humble little articles for this blog. Thinking about them is also a form of stimuli and in this case I’m using it to my advantage to improve who I am.