How Deliberate Creation Of Good Memories Boosts Wellbeing
People always say to focus on the present instead of dwelling on the past. However, recent studies carried out by the University of Southampton actually suggest that frequently thinking of good memories can actually boost well-being and lead to a larger feeling of overall satisfaction in life.
For those who live in a cycle of depression, its often the continual negative thoughts which bring them down and keep them there. This can be remedied by making an effort to create a new happy memory. In the 2006 Southampton study, researchers found that even bittersweet childhood memories can cause a large boost in morale.
The next time you feel yourself thinking of a memory which causes feelings of anger or regret, instead distract your mind with a reminder of a happier memory that you’ve recently created. Or simply reminisce about a happy, or almost happy time in your youth. Before you know it, you’ll experience a boost in morale.
In a similar study to the one listed above, Professor Clay Routledge of North Dakota found that nostalgia in general lowers anxiety. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, bring up a happy memory from your childhood (or early adulthood) to look back on and you’ll feel a little less tense.
Besides just counteracting anxiety, looking back at happier times helps us progress through the negative times by reminding us that there is hope.
Of course, to be able to have good memories to think back on, first you have to create said memories. While this may happen naturally, you can increase the chances that you will retain a happy event by taking a number of easy steps.
Next time you are experiencing something which makes you happy that you want to remember, make sure you pay attention and focus for a moment on cataloging the event. This can also be thought of as a “mental snapshot” of sorts.
Making the conscious effort to remember an event will help you to keep it fresh in your mind for years to come. While you are cataloging or taking your mental snapshot, include all five senses. Focus, for just one second, on what you see, followed by what you hear, but also don’t forget to include what you smell, taste, or feel. The more senses you involve, the clearer the memory will be.
Another factor which helps in memory recall is attaching your memories to physical objects, such as in the case of purchasing a souvenir on vacation. This is called associative memory, and it doesn’t just help you remember vacations, but it can also help you remember other happy events, such as a birthday party or wedding.
Having trouble thinking of something fun that you want to do to create a good memory? Well, try something new. Science has shown that according to the law of primacy, that we often remember the first time we are shown something best.
And this is true for the first time we try a new activity. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy like skydiving (but it can be!), it could be something as simple as trying a new food or drink. You can also work further on association, but deliberately tying new events to things that have already happened.
For example, you could throw a themed party based on your favorite historical event. Then the next time someone mentions that historical event, you will think of your party.
No matter how you decide to create these memories, it’s important you look back on them happily and frequently in order to boost your mood. And next time you’re feeling down, simply reference one of the good memories you’ve created, and you’ll be back on top of the world in no time!
Madelaine is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Universidad de Santa Isabel with a Master Certification in Health Coaching at Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. She is also a National Board Certified-Health and Wellness Coach with the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching, a Certified Quiet the Noise Group Coach with Elias Institute of Professional Coaching, a PACES facilitator, a Seizure First Aid Trainer, and a certified HOBSCOTCH Memory Coach. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, dancing and reading oracle or tarot cards.