Listening To (Or Singing) Sad Songs Can Help Us Feel…Better
A few months ago, I was sitting on the porch with my ear buds in listening to music. I had it set to shuffle through the many songs I enjoy--some of which are quite melancholy or heartbreaking in nature. Now often, depending on my mood or the activity I'm engaging in, I'll skip through the songs with a sadder message in an effort to try and avoid feeling...well, sadder.
For some reason, though, I felt compelled to let the sad songs that shuffled up play through. Yeah, initially I felt a bit more wistful. The music and lyrics worked their magic and I became more dreamy and melancholy. However, after a few songs, I found I was actually feeling better. Why?
So maybe it is simply coincidence, but I ran across an article on Medium.com that was exploring this very phenomenon. Isn't life strange sometimes? The author, Markham Heid, was exploring some of the science behind how listening to sad music can help us feel better. In fact, Reba McIntyre once said that for her, "singing sad songs 'has a way of healing a situation' and tends to 'get the hurt our in the open into the light, out of the darkness.'"
"Studies on what some researchers call 'pleasurable sadness' suggest that different people enjoy sad art of different reasons." For people who struggle with depression, it can give the listener a feeling of having been "moved or touched," according to Jonna Vuoskoski, a professor at the University of Oslo in Norway.
Another benefit? The listener may receive a great deal of solace from sad music, or art generally-speaking, without having to deal with some of the complex ramifications involved with feeling this deeply with an actual other human, which may be fraught with even more negative experiences.
Regardless, it's clear that for some people "a sad song, film, or other piece of art may provide a unique kind of catharsis as it holds a special place in a person's heart." Read more from that article here where you'll also find links to a more detailed look at the various studies involved.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find a good song to cry to so I can stop crying. Oh, how I love paradox.