Painful memories can make us strong, teach patience, and cause us to appreciate more enjoyable, easier moments. Sure, our complete memories make us who we are but that does not mean we can’t choose an increased well being.
Traveling around the world, you uncover many ways different cultures and individuals justify the meaning of life, their individual experiences, and their personal lifestyles. Sure we’re all familiar with the notion of karma or reincarnation, but what about more obscure beliefs? For example, Pharrell William’s of N.E.R.D. fame supports his and fellow band mate’s beliefs on life by equating Eintstein’s theory that “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another” to the band’s eponymous acronym: “No One Ever Really Dies.”
A New Take
Another particular lifestyle that is so organic and is the practical notion to live by is the idea of life being about collecting memories. Particularly within this lifetime, these memories are to be gathered and recalled at any time. For feelings of contentedness, the aim is to collect as many good memories as possible.
Various emotions are often tied to our different memories and recalling happier times often leads to a better well being. Reminiscent of the premise of many video games, imagine life as an aim to collect more positive experiences to recall, which can result in more life satisfaction. Learn to duck when needed and always look for bonus points.
What about Negative Memories?
Many of us have had sleepless nights regularly recalling feelings of hopelessness, shame, anger, fear and many other worrying emotions. Theories suggest that these type of feelings are better preserved than happier or neutral memories – possibly as a way to remind ourselves not to relive such a situation, similar to how we learned that fire was hot when we were young. It is important to note that we also have a higher risk for not properly recalling an incident.
In addition, scientists have discovered that anger, anxiety, and depression affect the functioning of the heart as well as increase the risk for heart disease. Atherosclerosis is a process where blood vessels supply the heart and brain, and strokes and heart attacks are caused by progressive damage to these vessels. Atherosclerosis increases when there are high levels pro-inflammatory cytokines or chemicals in the body.
A new way to deal with negative memories has been suggested by researchers at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, led by psychology professor Florin Dolcos of the Cognitive Neuroscience Group. Their studies claim that once a negative memory enters your mind, we should recall the event holistically, which allows us to remember not only the bad, but the positives that occurred, too.
Recalling some positives surrounding our bad memories allows us to gain a more well rounded perspective on the matter. Negative memories can continue to serve as reminders as to how better to collect good memories.
Collect Good Memories
While memories that we often try to avoid can teach lessons about future choices and make good memories much better by comparison, learning to focus on our positive memories can lead to increased self confidence and self-fulfilment. If you find yourself focusing on the negatives, studies recently found that recalling something more holistically can help gain a better, general perspective on our lives. Try to aim to collect one good experience, conversation, or accomplishment per day. This might include reading something you would not normally read, extending yourself at work, school or for volunteer work, or savoring something including a tasty treat or fun event. Aim to learn and to connect good experiences with certain places. Surround yourself only with people you admire for one reason or another. As for the inevitable negative people, use those memories to learn from. Like Gaven deBecker states in his book, “the Gift of Fear,“ know yourself well enough to trust your instincts.