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The Soundtrack of Your Life

By Michael Neill

What was your favorite song when you were seventeen?

Are you able to think of it now without becoming seventeen again, at least a little bit?

The experience of a song making us feel a certain way is what Neuro-Linguistic Programmers call an “anchor” – a reliable connection between, in this case, a song, and an associated set of feelings and experiences.

Moviemakers use this phenomenon when they painstakingly design soundtracks to accompany and enhance the images on the screen.

Ask people to think of the movie Star Wars, or any of the Rocky or James Bond films, and you can rest assured the music from those films will be playing in their heads within a heartbeat.

On the other hand, the soundtracks of our lives tend to be accidental – we either choose songs that reflect, rather than enhance our mood, or we become accidentally “anchored” to whatever music happens to be popular during significant periods in our lives.

What would happen if we put as much thought into designing the ideal soundtrack for our own lives as the moviemakers put into their movies?

Today’s Experiment:

Today’s experiment is worth taking some extra time with, and it was inspired by an exercise in Bob Arnot’s book, The Biology of Success

1. Go out and buy a blank audio-cassette tape.

2. Think of an important upcoming event. Imagine how you would like to feel at that event.

Now choose the perfect song or piece of music that best evokes that feeling in you. Write down the feeling and the song or piece of music.

Example: I am going to be giving a talk to 400 people. I want to feel supercharged, and I choose what is a real feel-good song for me – “Mystery Dance” by Elvis Costello.

3. How do you tend to feel before an event like this?

Choose the song or piece of music that best reflects that feeling and once again, write them down.

Example: I normally feel depressed – defeated before I start. I choose the Funeral March.

4. What is a feeling that is halfway between your feelings from steps 2 and 3?

Choose an evocative song or piece of music, and write the feeling and the music down.
Example: For me, halfway between depressed and supercharged is calm. I choose Pachelbel’s Canon.

5. Repeat the last step, this time choosing a feeling and a piece of music halfway between 2 and 4, and halfway between 4 and 3.

Example: Halfway between depressed and calm is “a bit down”. I choose “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen!

Halfway between calm and happily energised is playful. I choose Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.

6. You should now have a list of five feelings and five songs or pieces of music. Write them out in order.

Depressed -> A bit down -> Calm -> Playful -> Supercharged!

Funeral March -> Everybody Knows -> Pachelbel’s Canon -> Don’t Worry, Be Happy -> Mystery Dance

7. You are now going to make a tape, linking these five pieces of music, in order, to help you build an emotional chain from where you are to where you want to be.

Have fun at your local library or record store picking out the right music.

Once you’ve made it, you’ll be able to play this tape whenever you are thinking about the upcoming event, and immediately before it. Soon, you may find that you start to automatically “slide” into your desired way of feeling just by thinking about the music on your tape!

Bonus Tip:
You might want to make a “mini-tape” featuring excerpts from your chosen music. If you do this, make sure that you let the last “empowering” song play in full!

Congratulations, and have a great day!

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Video: Michael Neill – Grounding and Coaching

Michael Neill is “an internationally renowned success coach and the best-selling author of books including Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life. He has spent the past 20 years as a coach, adviser, friend, mentor and creative spark plug to celebrities, CEO’s, royalty, and people who want to get more out of their lives. His books have been translated into 10 languages, and his public talks and seminars have been well received at the United Nations and around the world.”

See list of Michael Neill books.

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