iPod Out Of Order

Breaking a Habit: One Month Without Music

“You cannot understand a system until you try to change it”

For the next four weeks I will not put on any music whatsoever as a kind of personal challenge. However, it’s not just about challenging myself, it is about breaking a habit and learning from it. The German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin once said “You cannot understand a system until you try to change it”. And that is what breaking a habit is about, about experiencing ‘the other side’ of something and, thus, expanding your reality-bubble.

In the past year I have learned that it can be an enriching experience to every once in a while radically change certain persistent behaviours or to suddenly include a new behaviour. In the last couple of weeks it struck me how often people around me in the office put on music, for fun or to assist them in their work, and also how often I put on music to ‘forget’ about my immediate environment and enter a work mode.

“Music should never be used as a distraction, as a means to not be bored”

What I find troubling is that the music that brought me so much joy when I listened to it with my full attention was now being reduced to a means for productivity and I noticed that the more I listened to it while working the more the enjoyment would wear off. One thing I am convinced of for a longer time now is that music should never be used as a distraction, as a means to not be bored, because then you’re depriving yourself of 1) the potential of music to create a state of bliss and 2) the beauty of everyday life, which can only be experienced unmediated by tuning all the senses to the here and now.

Of course I cannot demand from others in the office to not put on music, but there is a big difference between listening to the music preferences of others and listening to mine. The most important thing is that I’m not listening to the music that I love so much. So, until the 6th of April no masterpieces from “The Nice”, “Emerson, Lake & Palmer”, “Ekseption”, “Jimi Hendrix”, “The Beatles” and “Chet Baker” (my favourites lately).


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