Have you ever seen the movie Blade Runner? It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. The advanced humanoid robots (replicants) begin to take on lifelike attributes over time. What becomes important to them? Memories, whether they are memories that have been implanted or memories they have accumulated.
Memories come from living. In fact, looking at ways to create memories is – in a way – looking at ways to live life.
When the world has been in a state of chaos, it’s more important than ever to create positive memories. Positive experiences are beneficial for your mental health. Studies have discovered a phenomenon called “Fade Affect Bias.”
Fade Affect Bias, in a nutshell, is that emotions associated with good memories last longer than emotions linked with bad memories. It can be hard to imagine. However, our brains are wired to hold onto life’s positive and beautiful moments. This idea starts to make more sense when we think about mothers who say that they forget how difficult childbirth is when they are planning to have another. The memory of seeing their child for the first time outweighs the hours of pain and exhaustion. Therefore, we must create good moments to have beautiful memories later.
Ways to Create Memories
1 – Try New Things
This one is a given, but it can be extremely hard for some people to step outside their comfort zone. Although we are wired to remember positive memories, we are also creatures of habit. According to happiness and memory expert Meik Wiking, when you do something new, the memory lasts longer.
This phenomenon can also explain why when you ask your grandparents about their life, many of their favorite stories are from when they were in adolescence and early adulthood. As a teen or early adult, you’re experiencing many things for the first time. First loves, first jobs, adventure traveling, etc.
In order to have a remarkable life, we must step outside of our comfort zones to experience things for the first time.
2 – Make Room for Loved Ones
Another way to make long-lasting memories is to do new things with people you love. As social animals, being around people is shown to lower cortisol levels. This can come into play when considering how long positive memories last. Because of our brain’s responses, memories are more durable and rich when we are around others.
Essentially, we love to share our memories with other people. There are many ways for you to include others in creating memories, from a month-long trip overseas with your family to a spontaneous outing to a new ice cream shop. The possibilities are endless. Including people you love can make whatever you’re doing more enjoyable and the memory of it rich.
3 – Get in Touch with Your Creative Side
In an article featured in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers discovered that being creative makes people happier. As mentioned before, powerful feelings of happiness help you turn moments into everlasting memories. Trying a new artistic activity is worthwhile to create more meaningful and enduring memories. Being creative isn’t all about skill; it’s also about emotion and expression. Allow yourself to get out of your comfort zone and draw, knit, or even try a pottery class.
You don’t have to be an artist to be creative; you only need to let go and channel your inner Picasso. Even if your work of art doesn’t turn out as expected, it could still make for a fun story. Creating art or the like can be even more fun when we do things that remind us of being a child. Blending creativity and nostalgia can be a great activity for friends and families to enjoy together.
4 – Get Outside in Nature
Getting out of the house can feel like an enormous task for those who are very busy and stressed. However, the mental and physical health benefits of being in nature are too good to pass up. An article published by the American Psychological Association explains how being outdoors is a mood booster and stress reliever. A staggering statistic from the report showed that children in Denmark with the least exposure to green spaces were 55% more likely to develop mental illnesses than those who grew up with much access to the outdoors.
Try checking out a local park, or spend a weekend roughing it in the woods. Going on an impromptu picnic with your family will surely leave you with a beautiful and long-lasting memory. Regardless of what you do in the great outdoors, the time spent exploring will be worthwhile.
5 – Be Flexible
When trying to create a powerful memory, sometimes it’s necessary to roll with the punches. A Psychology Today article written by Carla Shuman, Ph.D., points out that flexibility is essential to overall happiness. Essentially Shuman points out that having flexible thinking lets us find happiness more often. Being more adaptable can help you find joy in little moments and endure difficult ones.
Try changing your mindset to become more resilient and flexible. A mindset shift can not only help you make happy memories, but it’ll also make you happier in general. Instead of ruminating about something that went wrong, a change of plans last minute can lead to an enjoyable spontaneous moment that you’ll be able to reminisce about for years to come. While it is important to have a plan, going with the flow can help you enjoy more moments.
6 – Live in the Present
Mindfulness has been a big buzzword for years, but what is it, and why does it matter? Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment and experiencing all five senses. You don’t have to meditate in a fancy yoga studio to reap the rewards of mindfulness. You can be mindful anywhere by paying attention to all of your senses and coming back to the moment when your mind goes astray.
According to researcher Matt Killingsworth, Ph.D., we are happiest when we live in the moment, as opposed to when our mind is wandering. Being present helps us find joy and gratitude in the small things life has to offer. Positive memories can not only be about significant occasions but small moments too. Living in the here and now can help you turn moments into everlasting memories.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness and how it affects our brains, check out this interesting article by TIME Magazine.
7 – Stop Taking So Many Pictures
In the age of social media, capturing everything about the fantastic memory you’re creating can be very tempting. But, at the same time, you’re taking photos and taking yourself out of the moment. Unfortunately, researchers have found that stopping to take pictures results in people having a less durable and lower quality memory of the event than fully engaged people. This result is because taking pictures can cause distraction, and it distances people from what is in the photo. For this reason, it’s essential to keep the picture taking to a minimum.
Although photos can be wonderful reminders, our camera rolls have been flooded with unnecessary images we swear we’ll go through one day. So instead, opt for a unique souvenir or local good to give you a physical reminder of the place you’re visiting.
8 – Minimize Regrets
Ever wonder what people’s biggest regrets are? Researchers Mike Morrison and Neal J. Roese researched this very subject. While impossible to sum up in a sentence, Morrison and Roese’s study showed that people tend to regret not acting and lost opportunities for longer. In addition, the study’s participants reported a higher number of regrets related to work and love.
This study’s findings are robust because they show what we value, especially towards the end of our lives. Passing up on opportunities because they seem too frightening or challenging is a sure way to stack up regrets. This is your sign to take life into your own hands and get out of your comfort zone. Of course, stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary. Still, the positive memories you can create by doing something for the first time could be one of your favorite occasions to reminisce.
9 – Harness the Power of Nostalgia
To keep memories alive, think about them often. According to Wiking, our memories are a “reservoir of happiness.” Keep the memories from fading by thinking and talking about them. Feeling nostalgic can help keep the memory from fading and boost your mood simultaneously. It can help to try to remember the emotions, smells, sights, sounds, sensations, and maybe even tastes of the memory you’re trying to recall. You could even make a family tradition out of reflecting on your favorite memories. Creating long-lasting positive memories gives you more positive thoughts to reflect on.
“A happy memory is perhaps on this earth truer than happiness itself.”Alfred de Musset
French poet Alfred de Musset’s quote illustrates the importance of creating long-lasting memories. Happiness in this moment is nice, but it’s even better when we can enjoy it over and over again. While it may be easy to remember the things that go wrong, it can also be just as easy to create joyous memories that last a lifetime.
Creating memories (living) will help you feel content. You can create a lifetime of beautiful memories by living in the moment, going with the flow, doing something new, and maybe even asking a loved one to come along for the ride.