Ever notice how negative events effortlessly pop up into your consciousness while the positive ones require digging and cobweb clearing? That’s happened to you, right? Good, it’s not just me. Actually, I know I’m not alone in this—apparently our brains are hard-wired to turn scary or uncomfortable moments into permanent memories. It’s part of an age-old survival mechanism that equates discomfort with danger and assigns these memories as high priority.
Here’s the good news. Just because there’s science behind it, doesn’t mean we have to settle for the way things are. We can reverse this natural tendency by intentionally capturing those sweet moments as they happen. Our ability to focus on events unrelated to survival or reproduction is one of the ways humans differentiate themselves from other mammals.
I hope one of the three methods below will move you to action. There are some unexpected side benefits outlined at the end of this article.
Keep A Journal
There are many ways to keep a journal. Write it out on paper, dictate your memories into Evernote, type your thoughts using an app or word processing program, or use an art journal to illustrate what’s happening. Some people believe that handwriting and drawing evokes more insight than typing. That’s not true for me but that’s the beauty of journalling—it’s a deeply personal practice with no rules. You get to choose the content and rhythm that work best for you.
Make A Snapshot Album
Take a stroll through iTunes or Google Play, and you’ll find tons of apps to help you make a photo journal. Or, if you use Google Photos on your PC, upload your snapshots into an album. You can then write a description on each photo. Google Photos offers unlimited storage in the cloud if you set your photos to high quality instead of original. Unless you’re saving your photos for magazine-quality printing, you’ll never notice the difference. And, hello… unlimited free storage.
My Personal Choice: The “Good Things” Jar
This is the method I’ve chosen. I love the raw simplicity of writing a quick note on a bit of paper that I can dig into later on.
This idea is probably as old as the hills—I’ve seen it featured several times on Facebook—but it’s a brand new practice for me, hence the empty jar in my photo.
I’m envisioning an overflowing container one year from now. When it can’t hold any more notes maybe I’ll empty it and make a collage out of the accumulated nuggets.
Here’s a thought: I think it would be totally cool to place a jar and a supply of paper by the front door so visitors can contribute a thought or two.
In case you’re not hooked on this idea yet, consider these side benefits of capturing positive memories.
- You’re more likely to spontaneously remember what you take note of. So even if you never reread your entries, your ability to recall and enjoy positive moments from the past will improve.
- This doesn’t have to be a solo affair. Invite your family and friends to contribute to your happy notes. Or start a “Good Things” jar for an older relative or a friend. What better legacy than starting a new family tradition that teaches gratitude?
- Taking time to notice and appreciate more of the wonderful little things that happen each day will help us become more intentional when it comes to deciding how much time we allow ourselves to dwell on problems and negative events. We are what we think.
I’m sure there are a million other ways to grab the good times. Do you have a different method or habit you’d like to share? You’re more than welcome to leave a comment—I love to know what my readers think.
Or click here to tweet this message! “Start a new family memories tradition.”