Shake Good Memories Before They Harden

Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

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.

15 thoughts on “Shake Good Memories Before They Harden”

  1. The past can be tricky and like you said, it’s often portrayed as something it’s not. I know I’ve shifted my perspective on the past and it has helped me relax a lot. It’s easy to dwell on the fact that you could’ve done things differently all the time.

    Good post, sir!

    1. Hi Henri.

      I could spend like 5 hours right now dwelling on the past, but I won’t be doing that. You are right that it is portrayed as something which might not even be there in all entirety.

      Good to hear from you.

  2. Carpe diem! Seize the day!
    I used to get depressed about missed opportunities and break ups with previous girl friends, etc. Now, I look at that stuff as all just experience. I also try to appreciate the fact that I had some great times in the past and that I have great memories. I like to take photos a lot more now too for sentimental reasons.

    Very deep, Armen!
    .-= Gordie´s last blog ..Why Haven’t You Achieved Your Biggest Goal Yet? =-.

    1. Hey Gordie.

      You are right about seizing the day. We always feel bad when we don’t seize it.

      Good point there about looking at past issues as experience. I feel good when I do that.

      Photos and video really do make a difference. We sometimes feel like something we are doing isn’t really worth a photo, and then a year later, we wish we had some record of an event we had during that time.

      Good stuff Gordie.

  3. I love this post, Armen! Just as we learn from difficult memories, we also learn so much from good ones. At a time when things went well in our lives, it is definitely useful to understand why, to know what strengths we were exhibiting, so we can call on them when needed.

    What you are suggesting is to be conscious as good things are happening so we get the most out of our positive experiences now and once they become memories. This is a wise way of being. Thanks so much for offering your perspective.
    .-= Gail @ A Flourishing Life´s last blog ..A Request for Help with Social Anxiety (Q&A) =-.

    1. Hi Gail.

      Thanks for that. We sure do have the potential to get some guidance from the good memories too, as we see what worked best for us. The good memories are where we were superstars for a period of time.

      I like the way you described the message of this article. We have to be conscious of the good as it occurs so we don’t toss it away while it is being created, and build on it while there is still opportunity to build on it.

      Glad for that description, and thanks for your thoughts.

  4. I’m bad at remembering good memories. Sometimes, it’s the bad ones that i remember more. Thankfully, I got my sister who keeps reminding me of some good childhood memories. Perhaps, the key to remembering good memories is sharing them with people who are close to us. Malcolm Gladwell talks about this a bit in his book “Blink” when married couples and even families share collective memories, making it easier to remember things and events. 🙂
    .-= Mighty´s last blog ..Are You Giving Up Responsibility by Committing These Leadership Mistakes? =-.

    1. Hi Mighty.

      That might be the case with most people, but I am not sure. I think the bad memories are a bit more prominent in our minds, as there tends to be fear or worry that was in them, and those are said to motivate us more than good things.

      Good point about sharing good memories. People are usually always glad to hear them, because they usually have similar situations that occurred, and so we bring them up in their minds.

      I had forgotten that in “Blink”, but remembered it somewhat after you pointed it out. We sure do sometimes leave others to remember some things for us when we are in close connection with them. I sure like all of Malcolm’s books that I have read thus far.

    1. Hi Srinivas.

      This is another relevant point. We can use those great memories to put ourselves in the position we felt we were in at the time they occurred. If we have a memory of being the coolest person at a party, or putting hours of effort in to build a wonderful bookshelf, imagining those things can make us feel like we are ready to be the coolest person at an upcoming gathering, or like we can take on a new woodworking project.

      Thanks for that added concept.

  5. ARMEN you LEGEND 🙂 haha. that comment leadup is solidifying. almost have to turn and wink at the camera when i use it nowadays.

    really loved this post. there was a… an honesty about it. a lack of fluffy sugarfrosting that sparked something in me. i think affecting the reader is prolly the most important thing for a writer to do. like the way you put it: “shake good memories before they harden”. powerness.

    i’m constantly writing things down – solidifying memories – and i have a couple of files on my laptop (some require password protection) that chronicle the adventures.

    I really like your suggestion about proactively preempting good memories and deepening the good feelings by inviting your b-ball team over etc.



    hope all’s well mate
    alex – unleashreality

    1. Hi Alex.

      Your comment leadups are for the win.

      I appreciate that about the post’s honest qualities, as it came to my mind while I was thinking about something that was meaningful to me.

      That’s a smart move about chronicling your adventures, as I’ve been entertained or informed by my past material from long ago.

      I had forgotten what the Stumble effect was like.

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