What are the moments you remember the most about last year, last month or last week? What are some of your happiest memories? And how can you create happy and meaningful memories to remember in many years?
When I saw the book The Art of Making Memories in Copenhagen’s airport, at the end of my trip to Iceland, I instantly knew that I wanted to buy and read it. Written by Meik Wiking, the author of The Little book of Hygge, the book presents some findings by the Happiness Research Institute, insights on how to make memories, and the general science behind how and why we remember some specific things and moments.
Inspired by some of the results shared by the author, some findings of the Institute and my personal experience, here are some tips to mix and match (or to use on their own), in order to help you create happy memories!
#1 – Celebrate meaningful moments
These are for instance “big days” or milestones: a birthday celebration, your first day at a new job, moving in a new flat or even passing an exam or graduating. But it can also be smaller milestones, like finishing a fitness challenge or even just going out for a walk after many days spent inside.
These big and small steps in your life (or the life of your loved ones) are worth celebrating, and by making an extra effort to make them even more memorable, you will create beautiful and valuable memories to look back to.
#2 – “Make a day out of it”
Similar to the previous point, this is more about celebrating and remembering smaller and less meaningful things: the first day of spring, summer or autumn, the first cherries of the season, but also just having a day with a “theme”. It is about mindfully planning and doing something fun, and investing some effort to do something a bit different than usual.
For example: I remember when I went to a ball in Vienna, instead of just going there in the evening (which would have been absolutely fantastic on its own of course), me and my sister spent the day following Sissi’s steps, visiting the royal palace in Vienna, indulging in Sachertorte, going to the hairdresser, etc. basically pretending to be princesses!
#3 – Connect
According to polls conducted by the Happiness Research Institute, connection plays a huge part in how meaningful and memorable a moment is. Many of the “happy memories” that people shared with the researchers included the presence of family, friends or partners. So, when you are planning in a fun day or a celebration, think about who you would want to spend that moment with.
This does not mean that you cannot have happy memories by yourself. In fact, a lot of “happy memories” also included solo trips or quiet times spent alone, and stepping outside of your comfort zone (see point 8) can be something you do alone too!
#4 – …and disconnect
We all know that technology can really distract you from the present moment. It can be a good thing sometimes, but other times, not so much. To make a moment even more meaningful and memorable, try disconnecting a bit from your devices to enjoy the present moment. For instance, instead of taking hundreds and hundreds of pictures when you travel to a new place, try taking a bit less and enjoy the moment, soak up the atmosphere around you.
#5 – Pay attention to all your senses
Are there scents, sounds, flavours or feelings that take you back to some distant memories? It can be the perfume you were wearing on your wedding day, the taste of the chocolate cake your mum used to make or the specific song of a bird that you could hear in your childhood garden. Well, the idea here is to harness the power of senses and pay attention to them when you want to make a moment more impactful and memorable.
For example: pay attention to the sound of waves, the feeling of the sand between your fingers and the smell of the ocean, not only to the beautiful colours of the sunset. You can also decide to only wear a specific perfume for certain occasions or holidays or to create these types of associations for your kids!
#6 – Make the journey (including the struggles) part of the experience
You might remember being lost in the woods during your hike more than actually finishing the hike, or have vivid memories of the time when you had to eat something disgusting because you didn’t understand the language of the country you were in or even of when you had to walk home soaking wet after a thunderstorm.
This does not necessarily mean that you have to make every struggle something positive, but to keep in mind, when faced with an obstacle, that, in a few weeks or months’ time, this might actually be one of the best and most memorable (or even funnier) parts of your experience.
#7 – Do something for the first time
It comes to no surprise that doing something for the first time is one key ingredient to create happy memories. This is about ticking off some of those items on your bucket list, doing that thing that you have always wanted to do or try, but also doing something impulsive and exciting: it can be finally going on the trip you wanted to go to for ages, or even just trying ice skating, going to a pottery class or running in that beautiful park you have never been to! And you can obviously also make a day out of it (see point 2)!
#8 – Step outside of your comfort zone
Stepping out of your comfort zone is what helps us grow in general, but, when applied to creating happy memories, doing something that really excites us or even scares us will make that experience a memorable one because of all the emotions it involves!
For instance, when faced with two different options, you can try thinking about what you are most likely to remember in 10 years’ time: the time when you stayed at home watching Netflix or when you went to a cute café by yourself to read?
#9 – Plan happy days and create anticipation
The feeling of anticipation is something that I really enjoy – and sometimes hate. It is when you feel extremely anxious for the whole week before the interview for your dream job, but also the excitement of planning a trip. This feeling of “looking forward” is also what makes a nice day a memorable one, because you have thought about it, you are excited about it and maybe you have organised a few things as well. Try using it to your advantage!
#10 – Remember those memorable moments
Finally, now that you have created all these happy memories, how can you remember them? Well, there are many ways to do it. Here are some ideas:
- Share your memories with those around you, tell the story to your friends and family, or on your blog!
- Collect things that will remind you of that day: a pebble from that beautiful hike, a pair of earrings that remind you the beautiful city you visited, or a recipe from that restaurant, to recreate at home
- Keep a record of the most memorable moments. Try selecting your favourite pictures of the year instead of just having your thousands of pictures on a hard disk, create albums, keep a travel journal or write things down on your diary!
- Recreate some memories, by wearing the same perfume, listening to the same songs or cooking the same dish at home!
What is one of your happiest memories? What do you do to keep track of them?
Leave a Reply