Happiness Hacks: Sing

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

In second grade we stood at our desk and sang. EVERY DAY.  The teacher traveled the room, bending down to intently listen to each child.  Those who were out of tune she tapped on the head to sit down.  There were two of us who always got tapped.
From third grade on  I silently mouthed the words anytime, anywhere there was singing, terrified someone would hear me.   

Now the science is in. Singing is really good for you and the most recent research suggests that group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

Creating music together evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes sang and danced together to build loyalty, transmit vital information and ward off enemies.  (Since I still can’t carry a tune I figure all my enemies have long ago been warded off.)

Caterwauling beautiful music by Peggy

“What has not been understood until recently is that singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and even synchronises our heart beats.”

“Singing helps people with depression and reduces feelings of loneliness, leaving people feeling relaxed, happy and connected. What’s more, the benefits of singing regularly are cumulative. People who sing have reduced levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.” (The research must have been done on people who could carry a tune.  My cortisol levels still go up when singing)

Now the good news (for me) . . . 

One of the great things about singing is that you can receive the wellbeing benefits even if you aren’t any good. One study showed that:

“Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.”

“The current research into the neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.”

I still can’t carry a tune but at least no one . . . so far . . . has tapped me on the head since second grade.


Read the entire article:  The Neuroscience of Singing

9 comments on “Happiness Hacks: Sing

  1. I really enjoyed this post about singing for a number of reasons.

    The tapping on the head… I experienced that in high school when our singing teacher would tap those with good voices on the head indicating they could be in the choir! Guess who did NOT get tapped on the head. I was definitely traumatized by that, but no matter I still love singing. Recently I rectified it all by taking Indian singing lessons when I found a teacher when we were in Pushkar India for an extended time and he worked with me on the ragas which are the Indian version of the scales. He was inordinately patient, bless him!!

    And yes, in my research on the topic discovered that it is the vibrations of sound, any sound which brings healing to the body and relaxation. In yoga we learnt to block your ears and make a humming sound like a buzzing bee. The feeling of relaxation is immediate.

    So interesting with regards to group singing. It so makes sense. I really enjoyed reading about the heart beats get synchronized etc. and am forwarding to my mother who used to sing in a choir and to my sister who works with a youth choir. I am quite sure they will both enjoy this post too. Looking forward to your book.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I could write an entire post about music enhancing life, but I won’t hijack your blog. Just one story: you may know that my mom spent the last 18 years of her life locked inside Alzheimer’s. She couldn’t carry a note if you put it in a bucket and strapped it to her shoulders. But did she love music. When the residence where she lived had any kind of muscical performance, there she would sit, waving her hands, tapping her feet, and singing. Loudly. Off key. And with wild abandonment and great joy. She made everyone around her smile at her exuberance.

    As for that second grade teacher – shame shame shame. You come sing with me – we’ll bring the house down.


  3. Great, even with my off-key voice, I find singing along to the radio while driving allows me to accept and/or ignore the lousy drivers who seem bent on destroying themselves and anyone else observing road etiquette and right of way. Does it also work if one “sings” along in their head (if it’s a nice day and the car windows are open) to avoid frightening – or amusing – other drivers?


    • Rick,
      I am not sure, but I would think so–it seems practicing anything just in imagination activates the neural circuits involved in actual action. I wold think that would apply to singing! However, I suggest you check it out, and see if silently singing with the windows down lifts your mood. Bet it does.

      Liked by 1 person

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