I created a playlist for my brain, and it changed my life

I’m a developer. I listen to music every day. I listen to random playlists or recommendations from Spotify.

I’m also a runner, but I do not listen to music while I’m running. It gets repetitive. And I don’t like to fiddle with my phone to find better music while I’m running.

One day I run out of podcasts to listen to whilst I was running. I was already on my way home. It was a long run, about 30k, so I was quite tired and my energy level was pretty low.

I run without anything for a while and then I decided to put some Led Zeppelin on. When the first notes of “Whole Lotta Love” kicked in my energy level picked up. I speeded up and felt pretty good almost immediately. A few songs later I arrived home. I still felt tired, but my mood was better.

That whole episode made me think. Let’s create a playlist for the upcoming ultra (100k). Every time I felt low I would play something from the playlist. Long story short it worked.

Every time I felt the low energy I played a few songs. I still remember my last 1k or so. We were finishing at the race track in Brighton. There was a long stretch of grass track that leads to the finish line. I picked up my phone and find the Maniac song from Flashdance, don’t judge me :).

I was sprinting to finish. No kidding. It was the best finish of any race so far. Maybe because of the relief that the long day was over. But most likely because I had a great tune to listen to whilst I was finishing.

Back in normal life when I commute to the office, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts in the morning. But before I step out from the Tube I play myself a few songs from my “Morning cheer up” playlist. The music wakes me up and changes my mood. It’s a great start to the day. I fell like this:

Demolition | ‘Swinging Through’ | Official HD Clip 2016

Demolition in UK cinemas now Subscribe to Fox Searchlight: http://smarturl.it/FoxSearchlightUK For more information please visit, https://www.facebook.com/FoxSearchlightUK Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father in law Phil (Chris Cooper) to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel.

I didn’t stop at the cheer up playlists though. I noticed that when I need to focus and I have to concentrate fast I play the Beaucoup Fish album by Underworld. My brain is so used to this association between this music and focus that I focus much faster and I get into the zone.

There is a pretty good book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. It explains why the deep work is good and how to achieve it.

I’m still experimenting with this. But so far I have my morning cheer up, running, deep focus, thinking about the staff and relax playlists.

But why does it work this way? There are two parts to this answer.

Conditioning

You might have heard about Pavlov’s dog or Classical conditioning.

Pavlov finds out that you can create an association between a stimulus (sound, light) and action. He turned the light on and then gave food to a dog. Few repetitions later, the dog started to salivate when the light went on.

So, if you play yourself the same album every-time while you are in deep focus, you will concentrate easier.

It works on almost any activity that you want to do. Do you want to relax faster and easier? Choose music that fits your mood. Do it few times. After a while, you will relax by listening to that music.

Pitch

In the book This is your brain on music, Daniel Levitin is talking about the pitch.

“Pitch is one of the primary means by which musical emotions is conveyed. Mood, excitement, calm, romance and danger are signalled by a number of factors, but pitch is among the most decisive. A single high note can convey excitement, a single low note sadness.”

So, if I play music that should cheer me up, it has lots of high notes.

7. Jackson 5 – I Want You Back

Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Vol. 1 track 7 The 1:1 aspect ratio is deliberate and gives the same size when watching on your phone regardless if you hare holding it horizontal or vertical. Do you like the square video or do you prefer standard widescreen 16:9?

Or, If I want music that will make me more relaxed I could listen to this.

Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata (FULL)

Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata (FULL) – Piano Sonata No. 14 http://www.facebook.com/9Beethoven https://twitter.com/YtAndrearomano6 The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor “Quasi una fantasia”, op. 27, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven The sonata has three movements: 1 mvt: Adagio sostenuto. 2 mvt: Allegretto (click to go at 6:00 min).

The concept is little more complex than single notes. When notes are strung together we get melodies.

“Melodies are defined by the pattern or relation of successive pitches across time.”

Music written in the West has certain conventions. “Certain sequences of pitches evoke calm, others, excitement.”

The brain learns reaction to this. It’s like speech when rising intonation indicates a question.

“Pitch is so important that the brain represents it directly. If I put electrodes in your auditory cortex and play a pure tone in your ears at 440Hz, there are neurones in your auditory cortex that will fire at precisely that frequency. What goes into the ear comes out of the brain!”

That means that you are directly affecting your brain with music.

How you are going to use this information is up to you. I would suggest experimenting. Create different playlist to fit your needs during the day.

You can start with the morning cheer up playlist :)

No attitude

Have you ever said yes to something, only to dread the obligation when it comes due? I have, many-many times. I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin on saying “no.” Here are his thoughts (republished with permission):

Seth Godin: On saying “no”
– If you’re not proud of it, don’t serve it.
– If you can’t do a good job, don’t take it on.
– If it’s going to distract you from the work that truly matters, pass.
– If you don’t know why they want you to do this, ask.
– If you need to hide it from your mom, reconsider.
– If it benefits you but not the people you care about, decline.
– If you’re going along with the crowd, that’s not enough.
– If it creates a habit that costs you in the long run, don’t start.
– If it doesn’t move you forward, hesitate then walk away.

Thanks, Seth. I’ll respectfully add a couple of my own to your list:
– If you’re going to say no, do it now. “Maybe” is not fair to the asker.
– If you’re saying yes out of fear of offending the asker, say no, you’ll grow stronger.
– If you’re unsure, sleep on it, then say no in the morning.

 

Copy and pasted from:

The Journal, a monthly newsletter from Kevin Rose.

CarrierWave file exists?

If you ever wondered how to check for file if exist while you were using carrierwave gem with storage on amazon S3 here is how.

Assuming you have User class:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  mount_uploader :avatar, AvatarUploader
end

and uploader class
class AvatarUploader < CarrierWave::Uploader::Base
  storage :fog
end

then only thing that you have to do is this

user = User.first
user.avatar.file.exists?

thats it. I kind of assumed that it should be simple avatar.exist? but you have to get fog instance of file to be able to access exists? method.

Remindcast – my latest project

I had conversation with @mattwilliams about weather and how it would be great to have some tools that will tell you if it will be warmer / colder than yesterday. So you can decide what to wear or what to bring (like umbrella) with you to work. So I build it and you can try it here. Let me know what do you think.

From developer point of view:

Whole thing is build in latest rails. I’m using Google API (that have no documentation) for weather feed, Twitter for messaging and for authentication. The whole thing is hosted on Heroku.

Miles Davis and his wit

Davis was a man of few words. When he did speak, his words often had a similar effect to a hand grenade being lobbed into the room. In 1987, he was invited to a White House dinner by Ronald Reagan. Few of the guests appeared to know who he was. During dinner, Nancy Reagan turned to him and asked what he’d done with his life to merit an invitation. Straight-faced, Davis replied: “Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the president?”

via Miles Davis: his wardrobe, his wit, his way with a basketball … | Music | guardian.co.uk.