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Happiness Tip: Make a Playlist

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” –Plato

Loads of research shows that music can uplift and restore the spirit — so much so, in fact, that I have a “go-to” playlist of music that makes me feel happy. At the top of my list? “I Can See Clearly Now” by Ray Charles, “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors, “Girl on Fire,” by Alicia Keys, “Life is Beautiful” by Keb Mo’, “Love Don’t Wait” by Michael Franti, “Happy” by Martin Sexton, and “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney.

Take Action: With so many online services offering free music (I like Pandora and Spotify) it is easy to make a go-to happiness playlist. Make yours today. What’s on it? Music preference is highly individual, but knowing what’s on other people’s lists can help us get started.

Join the Discussion: Help others by listing the songs that uplift your spirit and bring you joy in the comment box below. (In addition, please contribute to the discussion on Facebook here.)

Image courtesy of thegirlone



  1. Michele says:

    I have a playlist for grumpy mornings with my kids that includes “Happy” by Pharell, “Brave” by Sara Bareilles and “Roar” by Katie Perry. It really helps pull them out of their grumpies and reminds them to try being brave and confident as they go out into the world.

  2. Brett says:

    Any song on Two Door Cinema Club’s, “Tourist History” album makes me happy and “Reflections” by MisterWives.

  3. johnschinnerer says:

    I have compiled a list of 700+ positive uplifting songs. Here are a few…

    Catch Me (Short) Ali Tabatabaee/Krebitz/Riemann Bandits [1999 Sire]

    You Can’t Stop the Beat Hairspray (Collector’s Edition Soundtrack) Soundtrack

    Never Gonna Break My Faith Aretha Franklin & Mary J. Blige Bobby Soundtrack

    Hakuna Matata Baha Men Disneymania Children’s

    Fun, Fun, Fun The Beach Boys The Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 Rock

    Good Vibrations The Beach Boys The Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 Rock

    Yellow Submarine The Beatles 1962-1966 [Disc 2] Pop

    All You Need Is Love The Beatles 1967-1970 Pop

    Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da The Beatles 1967-1970 Pop

    With My Own Two Hands Ben Harper Diamonds On The Inside Other

    Three Little Birds Bob Marley Africa Unite – The Singles Co Reggae

    One Love Bob Marley One Love: The Best of Bob Reggae

    Get Up, Stand Up Bob Marley Africa Unite Reggae

    Closer to Free The BoDeans Best of Bodeans: Slash & Burn Rock

    Bubbly Colbie Caillat Bravo The Hits 2007 Blues

    Darlin` Do Not Fear Brett Dennen So Much More Blues

    Child Of Mine Carole King Folk

    Dreamer Chris Brown Dreamer – Single R&B/Soul

    Forever Chris Brown Forever – Single R&B/Soul

    Shine Collective Soul Hints, Allegations, and Thing Rock

    Push It to the Limit Corbin Bleu Jump In! Soundtrack

    Accidentally In Love Counting Crows Shrek 2 Soundtrack

    I Like It Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way Country

    Pon de Replay Rihanna Music of the Sun Rap & Hip Hop

    You’ll Be Blessed Elton John Made in England Slow Rock

    (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding Elvis Costello & the Attractions The Best of Elvis Costello & the Attractions Rock

    Champion Flipsyde Champion – Single Hip Hop/Rap

    Let’s Live for Today The Grass Roots The Best of the Grass Roots Rock

    Time of Your Life Green Day Punk

    Sweet Escape Gwen Stefani Sweet Escape (Feat. Akon) Pop

    I Am Not My Hair India Arie w/Akon Testimony: Vol. 1 Soul and R&B

    Flashdance (What a Feeling) Irene Cara Flashdance Soundtrack

    Love and Some Verses Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days Rock

    Over The Rainbow 3:32 Iz Kamakawiwo’ole Alone In Iz World World

    Somewhere Over The Rainbow Iz Kamakawiwo’ole Facing Future World

    We’re Going To Be Friends Jack Johnson Sing-A-Longs & Lull. Childrens’

    With My Own Two Hands Jack Johnson Sing-A-Longs & Lull. Childrens’

    Supposed To Be Jack Johnson Sing-A-Longs & Lull. Childrens’

    Good Mother Jan Arden Living Under June Pop

    Thank yous Janis Ian Stars Rock

    Molly Smiles Jesse Spencer Uptown Girls Soundtrack

    I’ve Just Seen a Face Jim Sturgess Across the Universe Soundtrack

    Margaritaville Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads Pop

    Brown Eyed Girl Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads Pop

    The Middle Jimmy Eat World Jimmy Eat World Alternative

    Imagine John Lennon The John Lennon Collection Rock

    Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) John Lennon The John Lennon Collection Rock

    Smile Like You Mean It The Killers

    I Believe In You Kylie Minogue Ultimate Kylie Dance

    Just Dance Lady GaGa & Colby O’Donis The Fame Pop

    Cannibals Mark Knopfler Golden Heart Other

    Martina McBride Happy Girl Martina McBride Country

    Love Wins Every Time McMaster and James

    I Will Never Be the Same Melissa Etheridge Yes I Am Rock

    Dream On Aerosmith Gold Rock

    Joy Mick Jagger Goddess In the Doorway Rock

    Don’t Look Back Mick Jagger/Peter Tosh Inna Reggae Stylee Reggae

    Live For Today Natalie Grant Deeper Life Religious

    Legacy Nicole Nordeman Woven and Spun

  4. Mike says:

    Dear Christine your “Free Weekly Happiness Tips” pop up acts like a browser hijacker. It keeps the close X out of range. Can’t read your page.

  5. 51jjm . says:

    a dear friend sent me this post of your’s christine. a shameless plug first!

    we are both greek. of the 7 ancient arts the ancient greeks believed that music brought you ‘closest’ to the gods. a very powerful medium it is indeed. i’m glad you posted that plato quote at the start. 😉

    not to be a sour-puss…i was a music history teacher for almost 3 decades. music was a very very big part of my life. then, i went into a very severe depression. one of the most strangest/bizarre aspects of depression is a condition known as anhedonia. it is something a person would not understand unless they experience it. to listen to my beloved mozart, beatles, miles, marvin gaye, etc and not feel the positive energy/spritual uplifting is downright life-changing and scary. i really dislike the word ‘triggering’, but the reality is that sometimes ‘upbeat’ music can actually make a depressed person feel worse. just something to think about. anhedonia is most associated with schizophrenia and autism. but, is also a core characteristic of severe depression. and, sometimes positive psychology can backfire i think.

    it can be the equivalent in someways to the classic ‘just snap out of it’ statement when dealing with someone who has depression.

    still! there is hope. 😉 as i said i rarely listen to music anymore, but i am having ‘windows’ of recovery; last night, by rare chance, i was blaring ‘sweet emotion’ by aerosmith on my car radio. kind of surprised me. in a very good way. my depression has been ongoing for 4 years now. wild, right?

    i’m hoping to get my mind/soul back. i believe music will be part of that journey.

    thanks for your article and reminding me. i appreciate that very much.

    ps have you ever heard of the ‘mozart effect?’

    pss would love to talk more about this very western concept of ‘happiness’ versus true ‘joy.’ i believe, for me, thru my experience w/depression, that one of the several reasons depression (especially among the young) is growing is our societies idea that life is all about ‘happiness.’ just my opinion, no disrespect, but this is a fool’s journey. let me know if you want to talk about that… thnx again.

  6. 51jjm . says:


    since i was such a grump. try a listen to this one. w/headphones. 🙂

    thnx for getting me to listen to it. been a long time…

    • 51jjm . says:

      sorry christine, trying to post a link. can you delete the above post. again, sorry. i want to find you a song i think you’ll dig…

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