This summer, find new music, and lose yourself in it.

For the middle of summer, I’ve created an upbeat and invigorating playlist. To coincide with the theme of “finding,” all tracks were released in 2017, encompassing a wide range of styles and cultures, beginning with varying shades of electronica, segueing to a harder edge through reggae and hip-hop, and journeying to Mali and Colombia to bring it home.

While a few of these artists are old friends in my digital library, most are newcomers to my ears—musicians and producers I found through friends, Soundcloud pages and the “you might like this” links on Spotify and Apple Music. I spend a fair amount of time clicking through, always ready to stop scrubbing and give a song my full attention. It takes patience and perseverance, but the art of discovering a favorite new album is always worth the price.

The art of discovery

That’s because the art of discovery is an important component for emotional well-being. Whenever I hear someone say, “There’s no good music being released,” I shake my head and reply, “You’re simply not looking.” I can’t remember a moment in my 42 years where so much incredible music was being produced. As with anything human, there’s more lackluster attempts as ever before as well. This is what happens when technology makes anything more accessible: Some will use it to create and innovate, while others paste together a series of loops and call it a song. Discernment is the duty of the listener.

The reward of surprise

Surprise is elemental to our nature as well. I’m not talking about surprises that frighten you. I mean the ones that hit you in the heart. The reward of stumbling upon an album that will be played hundreds of times is one of the most pleasurable experiences imaginable. It doesn’t happen every time. If it did you wouldn’t appreciate it as much. There’s a reason for this.

Allow me to use my cats as an example. My wife and I recently went from feeding them twice a day to feeding them smaller portions four times a day. Both of them have health problems: Our older cat, Osiris, is in stage-three renal failure and requires not only prescription food but medicine as well. Our other cat, Magellan, is younger, but has had lifelong urinary problems, and also requires a special diet. And unfortunately, they require the exact opposite medicines, so I have to monitor their dishes the whole time, as each one wants to get to the other’s food.

When they were fed twice a day they knew the deal: If we slept past sunrise they’d make sure we were up, then again around 5 p.m. for round two. But since we’ve increased their feedings they find it perfectly acceptable to assault me any time I walk into the kitchen. As I work from home I get the brunt of the feeding duty. Most of my kitchen visits result in no food, but sometimes they do. And it’s the act of surprise that keeps them at my feet.

Funnily enough, if I fed them every single time, there would be no reward. Sure, they’d weigh three times as much, which probably wouldn’t bother them, but they’d be accustomed to always getting what they want. You see where I’m going with this: Humans are the same way. If something is always available we grow tired of the dependability. This is why we check e-mails and social media so often. Most of them time it’s a mindless distraction. But sometimes something important and relevant pops up. Dopamine is released when that surprise arrives. That’s what keeps us tuning in, over and over and over.

Music and discovery

So it is with the discovery of music. Hopefully over the course of this year you’ve discovered something enjoyable in the playlists I’ve assembled for 24Life. I spend a lot of time seeking out music first and foremost because I’m such a fan of music, which has fortunately led to a number of jobs over the years, such as this one. If one of the songs in this playlist hits you and you discover something that you love, well, I consider it a job well done.

More importantly, curiosity is an essential aspect of being human. Seeking keeps us youthful and engaged in our environment, open to new ideas and ready to invite in the pleasure of discovery. At a time of political division like none I’ve witnessed in my life, this is a critical step in our social well-being. Right now I can’t think of much that’s more important than healing those divisions. Mindset matters. Making yours one of constant engagement and possibility is a boon not only to yourself, but to everyone around you as well.

Photo credit: m-imagephotography, Thinkstock