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What Are Silver Bullet Playlists and How They Work for Good

What Are Silver Bullet Playlists and How They Work for Good

You soundtrack your life. Maybe you’re making music regularly. You get the emotional connection between the music you love and the life you live. Maybe you even use music to intervene with moods you don’t want. But something’s missing. That something could be a silver bullet playlist.


What’s a Silver Bullet Playlist?

We’ve all got playlists. Sometimes they are hundreds of songs long. I know there are songs in some of my playlists that I haven’t heard in forever, thanks to the non-randomness of most music players “shuffle” feature, that plays some songs more than once while never playing the songs I haven’t heard in a while. Blurg.


Silver bullet playlists are short: 4 songs tops, less than 20 minutes max.


The songs you put on your silver bullet playlists are meant to be heard in order, like a short concert.


Most importantly, silver bullet playlist songs are connected by the primary emotional content they all share.


How Silver Bullet Playlists Work With Your Emotions

A silver bullet playlist functions as a satisfying, complete experience of an emotion. Trust yourself: you want that. Why?


  • Instead of stuffing, suppressing, or repressing what we call “negative” emotions, a silver bullet playlist uses your built-in musical superpower to release the negative energy from the emotions you don’t want, returning you to a neutral emotional place where you can choose how to feel next.


  • Instead of reacting when triggered, using a silver bullet playlist that matches specific music you love with the triggered emotions gives you a recovery edge, like a shield that lets you feel fully without experiencing damage yourself, or breaking things and/or hurting people in the process. Who doesn’t want that?


Those are just a couple of examples of the emotional intervention power of a silver bullet playlist. No emotional intelligence needed; the silver bullet playlist facilitates your built-in ability to release negative emotional energy and find relief.


Let’s take a peek at how a silver bullet playlist can enhance your physical and mental superpowers.



How Silver Bullet Playlists Work With Your Physical Superpowers

One of your built-in superpowers is that you respond to sound and rhythm. Remember how it felt the last time you heard a jackhammer? Or waves crashing on the shore? Or your favorite love song? Your system responds to those audible cues in specific ways, and you can use that knowledge to amp up your performance physically as well as emotionally.


Through a process called entrainment, our human systems come into alignment with sound and rhythm. This happens naturally. Doctors have used music to help Parkinson’s patients walk with ease – the music simply activates the superpower we all have to connect our feet to the beat, which is very useful for Parkinson’s patients, or anyone learning to walk.


Athletes are living, breathing examples of entrainment as well. It’s a commonly accepted and research-backed fact that the right music can extend physical stamina, which is very useful for marathon runners. Your workout playlist probably gives you this insight every time you use it.


So how would a silver bullet playlist change your physical ability?


Silver bullet playlists are application-specific. You can make one for the “last mile,” for example, to get you over the finish line. You could also have a warm-up silver bullet playlist to get you ready for physical activity, even without a requirement for movement although a good silver bullet playlist for physical activity will make you want to move!


Are you getting this?


Silver Bullet Playlists for Mental Superpowers

Last but not least, let’s look at how a silver bullet playlist works on us mentally. As documented in the excellent life-hack book “Superlearning 2000,” upper-division university exams in Japan are often given with background music. Students and professors just understand that supportive music helps boost grades. What music do you use when doing any mental heavy lifting?


As well as academic performance, silver bullet playlists can help with memorization, whether you’re learning a new language or recalling your grocery list. Want proof? Think of the songs you learned early in life: nursery rhymes, the alphabet song, hymns from church. Try to separate the music from the words – it’s hard to do! That’s your built-in superpower at work, linking bits of data to sounds.


Be Your Own DJ

So how do you create and use a silver bullet playlist?


It’s a bit like being your own DJ. Ideally, you will have silver bullet playlists set up for easy access for most of the common situations in your daily life where you need a bit of a boost: preparing for tough conversations or meetings; doing the chores; recovering from the inescapable emotions that you find get triggered often; working out; taking care of business; creating content.


A good DJ will have specific songs lined up and ready for a performance, and that’s what you do, too, when you create a silver bullet playlist for a specific purpose. There’s a structure to all silver bullet playlists, though, that is very specific and closely tied in to our experience of being human.


That is, just like a DJ will have a slow song every so often to release the tension of physical activity, your silver bullet playlists are constructed very carefully to give you the satisfying experience you want.


Think about a four-course meal. The appetizer whets your palate. Then there’s a second course that, while it doesn’t really fill you up, prepares you for the main course that’s to come. The main course arrives, and after two teaser courses, you’re more than ready for the delicious meal. Then there’s dessert.


A silver bullet playlist offers you those same four courses, but with music. And, just as with a four-course meal orchestrated by the chef, the songs in a silver bullet playlist are there for a specific reason.


  • The first song you use invites you to become fully present, engaged with what’s to come next. The second song heightens your engagement. Think of the first two songs as eye contact followed by a first kiss, maybe leading to foreplay.


  • The third song lets you reach climax, whatever that might be: releasing an unwanted emotion, gaining the mountaintop, outlining an essay, mastering a video, whatever the objective of the silver bullet playlist was, this is where it really happens.


  • The fourth song releases the tension built up in the first three, leaving you at neutral.


When you think about it, a multi-course meal and sex are just two examples of how human experience works best. Think about the last movie or concert you experienced: did the same kind of arc take place? Most excellent human experiences contain this beautiful wave of introduction, build, climax, and release.


What Music Do I Use?

This is a frequent question, and it’s a good one. Researchers have demonstrated that the most powerful music for each of us is the much we love. This is all good…until you want to make a silver bullet playlist for an emotion that you’ve chosen to stuff, suppress, or repress, the way most men have been taught to deal with anger and fear, even sadness. If you’re stuck for music to fit a mood, most streaming music services can offer suggestions.


It takes a little practice to get good at building silver bullet playlists, and you may have to listen to them a few times to make sure that the songs you choose function properly in the places you use them: intro, build, climax, release. If something seems off, you will feel it, especially with practice, and soon you’ll be making silver bullet playlists for every necessary purpose in your life.


How To Use A Silver Bullet Playlist

Sometimes, you’ll want to use a silver bullet playlist in preparation, such as before a difficult meeting or discussion, or during your warm-up before physical activity. Sometimes you’ll deploy a silver bullet playlist in response to a trigger. In every case, as you develop your practice, you’ll want to make time to be fully present for the entire duration of the playlist (aren’t you glad we keep them short?). This is crucial, especially as you being to practice with silver bullet playlists.




Because there’s another human superpower we all have that engages all by itself, provided we allow it.


We all remember songs at one level or another. Research offers us an incredibly powerful tool connected to that memory. You probably know that listening to music has an effect on you, but the superpower you may not yet be aware of is that remembered music also has the same physical/emotional/mental effect!


What does that mean for your silver bullet playlists? As you practice listening to them, the music you chose and the order in which you hear it become new, burned-in memories. At some point in your practice, you will notice that dialing up the memory of a specific silver bullet playlist has the same effect on you as if you had actually listened to it.


That’s powerful. And, with practice, it can become instantaneous. Who wouldn’t want that kind of ability, when it comes to releasing anger, for example, of preparing for a race? All it takes is a bit of preparation and practice.


So what are you waiting for? Your music awaits. Use it well.


Always ready

If you want some guidance along the way, we’re here for you. Reach out here.



What Are Silver Bullet Playlists and How They Work for Good