How often do you stop and appreciate your hearing? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t even think about your hearing until it affects how you communicate with people or listen to music. We’re exposed to thousands of sounds every day, and some are just way more pleasant than others. But why do we prefer to hear certain sounds? And why do we instantly feel happy when we notice them?
Is it because it’s in our nature?
There are many theories explaining our sounds preferences. One of them is that we prefer natural sounds, like the sounds of the waves on the shore, the birds singing at dawn, the soft breeze through the trees or the whispering of the grass. Usually these sounds have a calming and soothing effect on our brain and have been linked to relaxation and well-being.
Until a few years ago, we never had a scientific explanation to why we particularly enjoy natural sounds, but it’s since emerged that it’s because we perceive these particular sounds as non-threats.
Today there are thousands of minutes of audio on YouTube of nature sounds that can help you fall asleep and reduce anxiety. And, of course, there are even popular apps such as Headspace that use nature sounds (and some other soothing sounds like boat engines and laundromats) to help people manage their stress throughout the day.
Do we try to mask other unpleasant noises?
One of the other reasons why we enjoy particular sounds is that some sounds can work as white noise by masking other unpleasant sounds that would otherwise bother or annoy us.
A good example is the rumbling of the laundromat. People who enjoy listening to this sounds explain it as ‘relaxing, monotonous and helps to focus’. These sounds can help you concentrate by eliminating other disturbing sounds. Who knew how calming it would be just to wait for your laundry wash?
Is it linked to our memories?
Another theory behind why we favour some sounds over others is that it ties in with our memories.
Think of a place you grew up in. If it’s the seaside and you enjoyed summers by the beach, we bet one of your favourite sounds is of the waves crashing onto the shore. Or, if you spent time in the countryside, it’s probably the sound of trees, buzzing of the bees or bird song early in the morning. These sounds are all connected to your most joyful memories.
Your favourite sounds
To test out these theories, we asked some of you to let us know your favorite sounds. Those that bring you the most happiness and which you couldn’t live without! We might be biased, but we think the answers are beautiful! What do you think?
What are the sounds you couldn’t live without? Is it a bird’s melody in the early hours of the morning? Or the roaring engine of your favourite car? Whatever it is, let us know!