Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 8, Issue 52;   December 24, 2008: Making Memories to Cherish

Making Memories to Cherish


We all have cherished memories — lovely moments we can replay whenever we want to feel happy. How would you like to have a lot more of them?
Roasted chestnuts. Can you smell their aroma?

Roasted chestnuts. Can you smell their aroma? Smells and memory are tightly linked. The part of the human brain that processes olfactory information links directly to two other elements of the limbic system: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The former is central in the experience of emotions, and the latter in learning and memory formation. Since smells readily evoke memories, preparing to remember smells prepares you to make memories. For more about smell and memory, see Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, or search the Web. Photo courtesy the blog, Världen Som Den Är.

Every waking moment of every day, and some non-waking moments, we make memories. Most vanish before the day is done; very few last a week. Some good memories return when reminders come along, but most are forever lost. We deal with this by keeping diaries, taking photos, or telling stories, and it all helps…a little.

In quiet moments, reflecting on cherished memories, with loved ones or alone, we can feel the happiness. It's so easy to do that we rarely think about the effort. Whenever we want to feel happy, we can remember a beautiful landscape, the smell of a wood fire, the smiles of loved ones, or even their touch.

These memories don't come from diaries or photos or stories — they come from deep within. Take some time to inventory how many wonderful memories you have. However many you find, you might notice two things. You'll be very happy about them, and you'll probably want more. You might think, 'I wish I could remember Grandma more clearly,' or your first love, or your teammates on the day of that great victory, and on and on.

Fortunately, there is something you can do, more powerful than diaries or photos or stories or anything you can buy. You can prepare yourself to create cherished memories. Once you're prepared, it happens almost automatically. Here are some suggestions for preparing to make memories to cherish.

Make happen what you most want to happen
You're much more likely to remember something if you really wanted it to happen. Do what you can — everything you can — to make it happen.
Illuminate the people around you
Memories of others are more vivid when those others are vivid, when there is enough emotional light. Light up the people around you, make them bright, make them glow.
Filter the details
In everyday mode, we attend to everyday details — what's for dinner, when do I have to be there, what to wear. But when preparing to make memories, these details fade compared to the details that truly matter: Am I breathing? Where am I? What is around me? What is that aroma? What is she wearing? What is the shape of his smile? How does the light look in their eyes?
Light up the people around
you, make them bright,
make them glow
Turn on the recorder
Take in all the details of right now, as if you were experiencing them for the last time, because you are. Think of it as turning on the recorder. You might have to search for your own Record Button, but stay with it — you will find it.

Most important, to remember an experience, you must experience it. To experience it, you must be fully in it. These suggestions are for preparing to make memories. Thinking about the preparations while you're in the experience can take you out of the experience. Prepare first, then do. Go to top Top  Next issue: The Perils of Piecemeal Analysis: Group Dynamics  Next Issue

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See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

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