How To Build A Playlist That Actually Makes Your Life Better

An expert shares a detailed roadmap for choosing the right songs for an inspiring playlist.

Last updated on Nov 17, 2023

woman listing to music with headphones on MixMedia, Karolina Grabowska | Canva

You already know music makes you feel good, and research explains why — studies show that music can regulate breathing, lower heart rates, decrease cortisol stress responses, and more.

The most astounding recent evidence shows we alter our genes when we listen to music, with increases occurring in the area of the brain responsible for improving mood, memory, learning, and brain function. These are also genes we share with songbirds!


Creating a "life soundtrack" actually improves your happiness, energy, outlook, and resilience.

For this, I believe each song should be chosen for a specific reason, with a specific intent. To get you started, I've shared my "recipe" for the perfect playlist below!

RELATED: The Most Feel-Good Song Ever Written, According To Research


How to build the perfect playlist to inspire you

1. Choose a life anthem.

Find a song that makes a bold, defining statement and declares to the world who you are.

2. Choose a "making things happen" tune.

This is the motivating song that gets you off the sofa and out the door for your daily exercise, or for following through on steps that move you closer to your goals.

3. Select a "soothe me" song.

This includes lyrics that calm and center you when you're headed to the dentist, need help falling asleep, or calm you after disagreements with loved ones (or anyone).

RELATED: How To Use Music To Calm Down When Fear & Anxiety Hit

4. Settle on a "true to myself" tune!

What lyrics elevate your energy when you need to shine your brightest? Surrounded by work, things to do, and other people, it's easy to lose sight of who you are at your most basic. This song brings you back to you every time.


5. Pick a "haters will hate" track.

Some days are just hard, and people bring you down. This is your go-to song that lets you feel the hurt, but also rise above it.

RELATED: The Most Relaxing Song In The World, According To Research

Tune into your mood before turning up the volume on your favorite playlist to maximize the full impact of music therapy.



I love music, and not only do I rely on it to boost my mood, but I've learned to trust song lyrics that find their way to me randomly. I'm not referring to the lyrics of favorite tunes, but rather songs that pop into our minds, or we happen upon (on the radio, etc.) even when we don't truly like them!


All of a sudden you hear a song (or snippet of one) and something about its lyrics just ... resonates.

Take full advantage of the healthy, healing influence (and guidance) music offers by adding music to parts of your day — when waking up, showering, driving, exercising, or simply walking … often when our body is occupied by routine or habitual motion, the creative mind receives the message and recognizes an invitation to act. Why? Because the subconscious mind focuses on images and metaphors, which songs bring to life vividly.

Our subconscious latches onto concepts the conscious mind passes right over in the hustle of daily routine — so whatever the subconscious notices warrants pausing and listening to.


We all need a little help to keep our energy positive and rebound from a challenging moment. Songwriters and musicians share their inspiration and talent with us to create a common message for us to share collectively and personalize.

You can, without a doubt, find the exact right words you need. So, utilize the wealth of music available and start strategically sound-tracking your life experience!

RELATED: Why Waking Up To Love Songs Can Make Or Break Your Day

Jan L. Bowen is an author, keynote speaker, thought leader, and facilitator with over 25 years of successful corporate leadership who specializes in helping leaders find their balance.