As soothers are to toddlers, headphones are to anyone who has given up their soother. As someone who’s trying to incorporate as much mindfulness as possible into my life, I was wondering why listening to music is so addictive. Anytime I leave the house I get a little rush – mmm, headphone time! The gym is great for listening to music too. Weights seem lighter and the treadmill moves in slow motion to David Guetta.
Having learnt about the rush on dopamine that’s associated with anticipation and how it makes our daydreams addictive, I’ve become intrigues as to what behaviours of mine are affected by this. I think my craving for the bass to drop is the same.
It all began when I started exercising. As well as being phenomenally good for me, it has turned into an exercise in escapism. When I hear my favourite tracks, my mind always wonders to the good times I had with my friends and all those associated daydreams. Essentially, listening to music has become an augmented day dream for me.
It seemed near impossible to leave my phone behind as I went for my evening walk. It genuinely felt like saying goodbye at the airport as your best friend is leaving for Australia (that would be a remote location relative to me!) I did. And it was a very nice walk. I noticed the shops that I passed by, I noticed some cool constellation – still no idea what it is – and I even helped someone with directions. Most of all, however, I was able to think more clearly.
My yearning for the headphones is a case of classical conditioning. Once the music is on, my thoughts are off to a nice place – away from here. They go in a circle and never reach anything. This time – walking without headphones was different – I was more aware of what was around me – and in my own head. I came home and wrote some interesting notes down about a question that had been bothering me before hand. All of these occurred while I was walking – in relative silence.
I would argue that it is good to give up the headphones once in a while. Maybe even most of the time. Listening to music is different for different people, but for me it is a way to run away from my current state into a safe place. It’s necessary sometimes, but most of us probably overdo it.