You’re having a bad day. You’re angry or sad or just feeling out of sorts. What’s the answer? Listen to some sad music. But why does this tend to make us feel better? That’s been a psychological mystery until now.
Rather than making us sadder, sad music actually cheers up our brains. How? By triggering positive memories. We gain comfort from knowing that the singer of the song is just as sad as us. Or we feel better because the person in the song is sadder and worse off than we are.
Or we could get all neurochemical about this. Sad music causes our brains to secrete a hormone called prolactin, which helps us deal with grief. The hormone preps us for a genuine traumatic event and when it doesn’t happen, we’re left with the pleasurable effects of a bunch of naturally-generated opiates in our bodies.
Whatever the case, keep listening to sad music when you need a pick-me-up.