This piece builds off of Gail’s article “Will These Memories Ever Go Away?“(and accompanying audio post), posted over at A Flourishing Life. While that article was mainly discussing the painful memories we have, I wanted to add in these words about the good memories we have made, and which we are now making. We often don’t recognize our good memories until they are long gone, and are unable to be relived in the same fashion.
It is worth checking out what we are currently doing that could become a good memory, so that we have the benefit of being able to expand on what we will later look back on. Imagine if you could go back to one of your great memories, where many things went right and your time was enjoyable. There might have been a few more things you wish you did at that time, around when the wonderful events were occurring.
Enjoyable Meeting Example
Let’s say you recently had lunch with a remarkable person, and left feeling like you would remember your talk with them for a long time. This is the time to recognize this, and to then think about what you could add to the experience before it just became a good memory of your past. Maybe you could send the person another proposition, or find another remarkable person to have lunch with. You could write about the experience you had with them every day for the seven days following the meeting.
Getting To Know People Better Example
Another example of this is a person who likes to play basketball every Thursday at the same basketball court, usually with a common group of players. This would make for a great memory later on, and that person might think that he would one day want to have had a big gathering with the players outside of the basketball court, like for dinner, or to watch an NBA game together at one of their houses. Being cognizant of these good potential memories as they happen provides a lot of motivation to do those supplementary activities while the opportunity is still fresh.
You Can Beat Regret To The Punch
A key part of this is about removing possible sources of future regret. If you get the feeling that doing a certain thing will satisfy you, and not doing it will leave you feeling like you let an opportunity go, think about how your memories of the event will be. Your future self will probably not accept feelings of fear or doubt as a reasonable excuse for not having done something you wanted to do.
I thought of the concept behind this article while I was driving past some houses at night, and I had a thought about how we look back at past memories like we were a different person when they occurred, but that is not always the case. Some of the same things we said after a recent good time, like “I should make a video montage of what we did”, or “I should do the same thing again next week”, are things we look back on, months or years later, as items we still say we should have done, but they aren’t changeable after that much time.
This is not to say to let missed opportunities from the past bring you down today, but to use them as a reference for how you should agitate your current “good memory” inducing activities toward more satisfactory outcomes.