I read a brilliant quote in Spanish that roughly translates to, “Time does not run, it flies. So, make good times and don’t miss them. He who has good moments will have good memories.” I love that, don’t you? Let’s talk about it and see how we can turn good moments into a lifetime of good memories.
Time doesn’t run, it flies!
Isn’t that the truth? If time ran, at least we could keep up with it. Instead, it’s like we blink, and years have gone by. One minute you’re graduating high school and setting out on your adventure through adulthood. The next, your own baby is starting the same journey. Blink again and suddenly you’re a great-grandmother looking back at dozens of years’ worth of memories.
Studies actually show that we tend to remember the good more than the bad. Scientists call it the “Fading Affect Bias.” We’re basically wired to retain information related to positive life experiences and filter out the negative stuff. Later in our golden years, those good memories help us keep an optimistic outlook on life. If you want to make memories that last forever, you need to focus on creating them now.
When you’re old and gray, wouldn’t you rather take a long hike up memory mountain than a quick jaunt down memory lane? In other words, do you want to remember just a handful of giant milestones or thousands of tiny good moments? I know which I’d prefer.
Good Moments Make for a Lifetime of Good Memories
It makes sense, right? Of course, the good moments in our life become the best memories that we look back on when we’re older. During normal happy times, making good moments is a breeze. We don’t even have to work at it! I think about all the family trips we took last year- to the beach, amusement parks, even just out and about in our own city- and I’m filled with joy knowing that my kids will always have those good memories.
Unfortunately, during harder times it’s often easier to focus on the bad stuff and forget all about the little moments that make life so wonderful. Ironically, those are the times when it’s really most important to focus on what’s going right in your life, especially if you want more good memories than bad later in life.
I think we can all agree that these are very trying times, right? For those affected in the most tragic of ways, I know that no amount of “focusing on the good” can ever turn these days into good memories. I won’t even pretend that it can.
However, for many of us, we have an important choice to make. Do we choose to spend our days filled with anger and frustration over what we can’t change? Or do we throw ourselves into making good times now, so we have good memories later? Personally, I’d rather look back on these times (or any trying times, really) and know that I did my best to create happy memories for myself and my family. I think that’s really one of the best gifts I can give to my future self.
Yes, it’s not always easy. How do we make good moments during hard times? How do we ensure that years from now, we’re looking back with a smile instead of through tears?
How to make good memories even in the toughest of times
Like I said, creating good memories during easy times is effortless. When we’re happy, every moment is a good one. How do you turn tough times into good memories, though?
1. Start each day with a smile
There’s a reason why they say that grumpy people “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” How we wake up sets the tone for the entire day. If you wake up groaning and dreading the day ahead of you, you’ll only see the bad moments. However, if you want up with a smile and think, “Today is a whole new day and a new chance for good things to come my way,” you’re more likely to focus on the positive.
2. Practice gratitude
While recent studies show that practicing gratitude doesn’t do as much to stop depression and anxiety as we once thought, it also doesn’t hurt. Looking for things that make you grateful isn’t just about making you feel better though. It’s a wonderful opportunity to really reflect on the smaller moments and commit them to memory.
3. Give the gift of gratitude to someone else
When times are really tough and your world is crashing all around you, it’s hard to practice gratitude, isn’t it? Believe me, I know. In times like those, you can substitute practicing gratitude with giving it to others. Do something kind for someone else, not with the expectation that they’ll thank you or anything, but because you know what it’s like to need something to feel grateful for.
It doesn’t have to be something really grand or anything. On tough days, I’m grateful to a friend who always posts funny memes on her Facebook. She does it every single day no matter what’s going on in her life. She says, “If I make even one person crack a tiny smile, it’s worth it.”
4. Keep a “line-a-day” journal
If you’re already into journaling, good for you! For those who feel like they don’t have time to write down paragraphs (or pages) of thoughts every day, though, a line-a-day journal is brilliant. These low-pressure books invite you to sum up your entire day in just one sentence. Use that single sentence to focus on something wonderful that happened to you that day, even if it’s just “Saw the most beautiful sunrise this morning.”
5. Spend time in the present
The next time your kids invite you to play, get down on the floor with them. Then, really be there instead of thinking about bills, food shortages, and so on. Trust me, those problems will still be there in an hour. Your kids only stay little for so long, so enjoy them! Time never flies faster than when we’re watching our kids grow up, after all.
6. Love often and fiercely
The football player turned motivational speaker Trent Shelton once said, “At the end of the day all that matters is love and memories so make sure you give it and make sure you make them.” If you love often and deeply, you’ll create good moments without even realizing it.
7. Try something new
Doing something totally new and outside your comfort zone is one of the best ways to make memories. As Meik Wiking, self-proclaimed “happiness researcher” and author of The Art of Making Memories, told CBC News (in Canada), “We have a tendency to remember first time experiences much better than things we’ve done over and over again. So seeking out new experiences is a good way to create strong memories.”
8. Let go of the idea of perfection
There’s a wonderful quote that says, “I don’t want a perfect life, I want a happy life.” Short, sweet, and totally to the point. If you’re focused on achieving perfection in everything you do, then you’ll end up disappointed. Since we already established that we build memories out of the good things in life, you can see where that disappointment could be a problem. You’ll lose the opportunity to create something that you can reflect back on years from now.
9. Celebrate small wins
We tend to view our lives as a series of milestones to reach. When we do hit them, we go big with our celebrations, which in turn cements them into our minds. While that’s definitely one way to create new memories, I don’t want to look back later in life and only recall a handful of moments. Do you? By celebrating smaller wins and everyday moments, we create countless good moments to reflect on in our golden years.
I’ll leave with one last quote (source unknown) that sums everything up beautifully. It goes, “The real moment has disappeared but you will always have the memories to remind you.” Make a real effort to be more mindful about creating good moments today. If you focus on doing that, you’ll have a lifetime of good memories to reflect on tomorrow.