Yesterday I relived my childhood and watched The Sound of Music with my children. I have watched the film dozens of times, but yesterday was the first time the poignance of the song ‘My favourite Things’ struck me.
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don’t feel so bad”
The emergence of positive neuroscience and psychology has been slow burning since around 1970 and has only really come in to the fore in recent years. This film was made in 1965.
So, it got me thinking, any other of my childhood favourite films with the same message?
How about The King and I? Made in 1956.
“Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect
This is much like our ‘fake it to make it’ analogy which proves that, by smiling, your brain releases serotonin, even if the smile is not genuine. Until eventually you are truly smiling, as the burst of serotonin enables you to feel genuinely happy. We smile when we are happy, but are also happy when we smile! The song continues:
“The result of this deception, is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well”
Then there is the ‘I love to laugh’ song in Mary Poppins, which I defy anyone to watch without breaking a smile. Laughter truly is contagious – the brain responds to the sound of laughter and preps the muscles in the face to join in. Again, it raises serotonin levels which is a vital neurotransmitter for positivity and wellness
The positive psychology adopted in these songs/films is almost certainly intuitive in all of us, and it serves us well to remember this. It is not some new ‘hippy nonsense,’ rather it is underpinned by neuroscience. Our film making history shows this is not a new concept and there are probably hundreds of films made prior to these that do the same.
And now, as I revisit my childhood favourites, I will certainly be looking at them from a very different perspective.