Connect with us

Community

Why Words Matter: The Power of Lyrics

Published

on

I had the pleasure to see artist and friend Ziggy Marley perform a sold-out tribute to his father, the legendary Bob Marley, at the Hollywood Bowl last year. That show was the first time Ziggy toured performing a full tribute to his father, whose spirit was alive and singing with all 14,000 of us on that starry night in the Hollywood Hills. It was also the first time Ziggy had ever performed live with an orchestra. The sound and show were nothing short of amazing.

What resonated most with me during the performance were those timeless and unforgettable words scribed by one of the most important musical prophets of our time, Bob Marley. It was hard to create anything but a sense of unity and euphoria when 14,000 people sang “One Love” together, or to remain focused on the stresses of the day when chanting along to the refrain of “Three Little Birds.”

There have been countless debates of how important lyrics are to the popularity of a song. While many songs have topped the charts without great consideration for the quality of the lyrical content, some of the songs we love most were penned by the great storytellers of our time. In the end, I can’t say whether the public is becoming more or less conscious of the quality and messages contained in the words of the songs they listen to. 

I was filled with hope , however, when modern-day musical prophet, Bob Dylan, received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 for his lyrics — a historical first. On the other hand, I was a bit discouraged a few weeks later when I heard an NPR music reporter claim that his favorite artist at the influential SXSW Music Festival was a rising star who used gibberish in place of words and lyrics.

Some people listen closely to lyrics, even singing along with them, while others have little idea or care for what is being said in the words of their favorite songs. A song with a great beat, that we love to play to get us pumped up at the gym, may have expressions of profanity, prejudice or more subtle negative messages that defy the mood and state of consciousness we are seeking to obtain, not to mention our own beliefs and value systems.

Words, like thoughts, harmonies and melodies, can deeply affect us. When combined with music, words and the energy they carry can resonate even more deeply.

Adding music (melody and accompaniment) to a lyrical statement or message activates more areas of the human brain than words alone and can make that message “stickier” — triggering our emotions and memory. One of the most powerful ways to influence emotions and consciousness is to set words to memorable music. Add engaging images to this mix and you have what holders of ancient wisdom have known for thousands of years as the ultimate power over the populace.

It is not just the quality of the writing that we should care about, but also the messages carried in the lyrics and embedded in our subconscious programming. Great songs have long been used to inspire hope, create a sense of unity, galvanize beliefs and move people to action. Songs of this nature are powerful and useful tools for our lives.

In the wrong hands, however, the combined power of music and words can be used to influence people to act in less than desirable ways. Think of the jingle used to convince us to eat unhealthy food, the lyrics of a popular artist promoting violence and chauvinism, or the anthems used by Hitler to unite the masses behind his mission. 

As Nathaniel Hawthorne reminds us, “Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” The messages combined with music shape the thoughts and beliefs across generations and cultures, for better or worse.

It is extremely important for us to be mindful of the messages and lyrical content we receive through the music we listen to, and to choose wisely when we put together our playlists. I’m not saying that every song we listen to has to have a moral story or deep meaning, or qualify for a Nobel Prize in Literature. Songs, like stories, can play many roles and express a wide range of ideas and emotions. One of the greatest gifts music can bring us is joy. A harmless, somewhat shallow lyrical chant that gets everyone up and dancing joyfully can have great benefit, too. 

Think of the music that you listen to as part of your sonic diet. The content of that music affects your system just as the choice of food you eat does. Eat junk food or sugar on a regular basis, or repeatedly subject yourself to negative programming through your musical diet, and you will find it more challenging to create and maintain the mindset and energy you need to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

The key is to be aware of how words are affecting our internal programming.

As with most mindfulness practices, a mindful music practice starts with awareness — being present to how your sonic environment is affecting you on more subtle levels. Even young children, when made aware of how to do so, are able to recognize these influences and can apply the discernment to their musical and life choices. 

My dear friend and colleague Nicole Dreiske, founder of the International Children’s Media Center, has tested this process with hundreds of kids on the South Side of Chicago. As part of her work, Nicole teaches children as young as 5 years old to recognize how the music and lyrics in the songs and film soundtracks they listen to affect their emotions and beliefs. They take to it so well that many of the kids help teach their parents to apply the same levels of sonic awareness and discretion.

Lyrics can influence our beliefs and behaviors as much as books or the evening news. Fela Kuti used to say that it was an artist’s responsibility to use the power of their music to consciously create a better world. Unfortunately, not all artists agree with Kuti. While I support artistic freedom and freedom of speech, I don’t believe we should rely on artists to choose the music we ingest. We have to take that power into our own hands. The upside is that we can harness the power of lyrics to shape our own thoughts and well-being.

This excerpt is adapted from my bestselling book Amplified, available online or at a bookstore near you. 
Continue Reading

Community

Is Crypto Safe? What You Need to Know

Published

on

Is Crypto Safe? What You Need to Know

What You Need to Know About Crypto Security

The cryptocurrency market is booming with more new coins and startups than ever, but they’re not all created equal. Cryptocurrency is a trailblazing technology that could overhaul the financial systems of the future. However, it’s wise to do your homework before actively trading or investing in cryptocurrencies with price volatility and privacy concerns.

What Is A Cryptocurrency?

Digital money that makes use of cryptography to safeguard transactions and regulate the generation of new units is called Cryptocurrency. It’s called a cryptocurrency because it relies on cryptography’s encrypted form of data. Cryptography also provides anonymity for users by obscuring their identity and, indeed, all aspects of their transactions.

Cryptocurrencies can be mined, traded or used to purchase goods and services. A person would have to rely on already established relationships with merchants or banks to make purchases in the past. 

How Safe Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is more than an idea to create a digital form of currency at its core. Cybercriminals have learned that they can target these digital currencies because they are not regulated and not backed by any government. In theory, it’s tough to track down the source or the location of cryptocurrency transactions.

Cryptocurrencies are a prime target opening for cybercriminals since it’s difficult to trace transactions and identify the individuals involved.

How to Safeguard Your Cryptocurrencies

Cybersecurity in Cryptocurrency is a common issue and one that you should be aware of if considering an investment. Though the concerns are real, these problems can be mitigated mainly through a few simple security steps before trading or investing in Cryptocurrency.

Here are some basics steps to help secure your account from Cryptocurrency transactions:

Password Protection

Enable two-step authentication and password protect your computer when searching for cryptocurrency exchanges. This will prevent anyone from accessing your machines if they are stolen or hacked.

Use a Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network (VPN) is a computer network where you can hide your proper IP address. If a hacker were to try and break into your account, they would see an IP address from the VPN, so it would be impossible to gain access.

Backup Your Wallet

Backup information that includes public address and private keys. This will help you retrieve any lost currency or prevent others from transferring Cryptocurrency from your wallet.

Use Multiple Wallets

Using more than one Cryptocurrency wallet helps protect your investment from theft even if your account is compromised. If you have a cryptocurrency wallet on multiple devices and platforms, it’s easy to keep a backup of your information in case of an account breach.

What Are the Risks Associated with Cryptocurrency?

With all the blockchain talk about decentralization and anonymity, getting swept up in the hype is easy. Cryptocurrency has become a rapidly growing portion of the investing market, and many retail investors are looking to trade or invest in cryptocurrencies.

While the technology behind cryptocurrencies is impressive, risks are rushing, making trading and investing in Cryptocurrency risky for inexperienced traders. 

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams come in many forms, including emails and text messages. These scams can occur on an individual or a more general level, as most commonly happens. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes information on detecting phishing scams. Still, it’s hard to tell the difference between a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange and an imposter because most large cryptocurrency exchanges do not have contact information listed for regulatory reasons.

Volatility

Cryptocurrency is a very volatile market that can swing wildly in either direction in almost no time at all. All cryptocurrencies are responsive to news, which can cause price changes within minutes or hours. There are also several different types of currencies, so you may have a hard time getting used to the volatility of each type. If you see only one digital currency (e.g., Bitcoin), it’s easy to assume stability when it’s still highly volatile.

Online Payments

While using crypto for online payments is a convenient method to pay for products and services, there are significant hazards involved with such transactions. When you pay for anything using bitcoin, you have no way of knowing the seller’s identity or having your payment details validated by a third party. You’re on your own if there’s an issue with the transaction.

With online purchases, you don’t have access to a complaint process, and there is no recourse if something goes wrong. This all results in anonymous transactions that pose risks online. As long as Cryptocurrency continues its rapid growth, this will be an iCryptocurrencyilers and sellers will need to solve.

Conclusion

Cryptocurrency is a highly sought-after currency for investors due to its untraceable nature and ability to exchange value without interference from a third party, such as a bank. However, this feature also makes it an appealing target for cybercriminals.

If you’re considering investing or trading in Cryptocurrency, educate yourself on the processes used to make transactions and invest your money safely and securely with reliable services that vet every transaction before letting it go through. Before diving in headfirst, make sure you research the different types of Cryptocurrency available and what risks are associated with each one. For more information on Cryptocurrency and its different types, visit our blog now!

Continue Reading

Community

Food Is Medicine And What We Eat Is Important

Published

on


Your mental state is a critical component of your physical health. And when you’re under a lot of stress, you might not be eating the healthy food that provides nutrients for fighting anxiety and depression. So when we examine what we’ve been eating, most of us discover that the decisions we’ve been making in the name of simplicity, convenience, or saving time have been damaging to our total health – body, mind, and spirit.

A person’s diet is a direct reflection of their health. When a person does not eat the right foods, their body breaks down. This can lead to an overall decrease in quality of life and many other diseases linked to improper nutrition. In North America, our current diet mainly consists of an excess of grain, sugar, fried and fatty foods. As a result, disorders including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and certain malignancies are becoming increasingly widespread.

The science of food has always been discussed; however, with recent technological innovations in food processing and agriculture, people have enjoyed more convenient foods that are less expensive than ever before. Unfortunately, with every convenience comes a trade-off. Smart foods are often packed with sugar, salt, and calories, leading to poor health in some individuals. 

To understand what a person is putting into their body, it’s essential to realize that the small molecules in food are responsible for allowing our bodies to function. These small molecules are called nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes. A nutrient is not a value unless absorbed by the body through a specific pathway. For example, if you absorb calcium without vitamin D, your body will not use that calcium. 

Eating a balanced diet keeps you healthy, but it helps reduce your stress. For example, eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants because they help augment your immune response and prevent toxins from damaging your cells. Vitamins A, C, and E serve as antioxidants that fight off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic products of metabolism that cause damage to your cells. Experts claim that they are responsible for the aging process. Good sources of these vitamins are deeply-colored vegetables- green leafy, yellow, and orange vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, kale, spinach, and carrots.

Iron is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, and it mainly functions to deliver oxygen to your cells. Hence, an iron deficiency, medically termed Iron-deficiency anemia, is associated with weakness, easy fatigability, and pale skin. Tea, coffee, red wine, grapes, and berries are rich in antioxidants that function the same as your vitamins A, C, and E. 
You need a diet that’s healthy and balanced – and one that can fit comfortably into your busy lifestyle.

Here are some of the recommended dietary guidelines.

Eat a diet high in fresh vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. 

Exercise every other day to release endorphins, feel good, get the blood flowing, and reduce stress levels. 

Eat salt only when you need it, but not too much as your body does not need it. Many people with anxiety are hypothyroid or have low magnesium. When your body needs more sodium, it can indicate that you are not producing enough cortisol or are dehydrated. If you experience chronic anxiety, I recommend working with a physician to run tests on cortisol levels and then take salt supplements as needed. Use spices like turmeric, ginger, curry, and aromatic herbs like parsley, rosemary, sage, and basil.
Eat low-fat meals because they will cause a minor spike in blood sugar levels: think lean meats, eggs, vegetables, and nuts; avoid dairy if it makes you feel anxious. 

Drink lots of water — keep hydrated all day — ideally at least half a gallon if possible — your brain needs water to function optimally! 

Avoid foods that you know will make you feel bad, such as dairy, even with low-fat content. You can cut out dairy and not worry about it! 

Avoid sugar, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and any other substance that makes you feel bad or increases anxiety levels. Also, avoid coffee — drinking more than one cup a day can cause anxiety in some people. Coffee is also dehydrating and inhibits the absorption of minerals from food/water/supplements — try caffeinated water as a substitute for coffee if you like the caffeine kick. 

Find a natural health professional that you can talk to or work with to quickly get the results you want. 

Healthy foods and nutrition can help you stay fit, but they can also assist you in treating disease. When you nurture your body physically with these nutrient-dense foods, your mental capacities improve, as does your spiritual welfare. Moreover, because your spiritual health is at its best, it will radiate to the exterior world, causing others to notice you’re happier and more relaxed, and your stress levels have decreased dramatically.

Continue Reading

Community

The Points of Light Civic Circle Offers Real Ways You Can Change the World 

Published

on

Sixty-six percent of Americans don’t believe they can make a big impact in the world. 

That figure is according to Points of Light’s research on civic engagement. But what if I told you there are actually many ways to drive change? 

Today’s political climate can feel divided or even stagnant, but the truth is, you really can make things better, starting with your own community, one act of kindness at a time. And those aren’t just words. I’m here to share real, practical ways for you to make a difference. 

The Points of Light Civic Circle helps people connect to opportunities and understand that doing good comes in many forms. It is a framework that represents your power to lead, lend support and take action for causes you care about and live your best civic life. 

The Civic Circle provides actionable examples of all the ways you can change your community to reflect the world you want to see around you. In fact, you’re probably doing some of these things already. Are you helping a neighbor by picking up groceries or chaperoning on your child’s class field trip? You’re volunteering. Did you vote in the last election or help others get to the polls so they could vote? Those acts of civic duty illustrate the “vote” element. When you buy a product, do you choose to support companies that reflect your values or advance a social cause? That’s called “purchase power.” There are nine elements of the Civic Circle, and countless ways to bring each one to life. 

This blog is the first in a five-part series that will help you find real and manageable ways to activate the Civic Circle through apps, documentaries, podcasts and books. 

We also offer other resources to help you connect with all the ways you can become empowered to be the change you want to see in the world. Check out our videos that provide an in-depth look at each element of the Civic Circle. And don’t miss Civic Life Today, our digital magazine series. Each issue takes a deep dive and provides materials, ideas and inspiration so that you can become civically engaged.  Get started today, and launch your own civic engagement journey with these tools. 

Continue Reading

Trending