The Benefits of Reliving Your Happy Memories

The Benefits of Reliving Your Happy Memories

Positive reminiscing is one of positive psychology’s least known but most effective strategies.

Thinking back on and savouring positive memories can boost happiness and wellbeing.

And the happy news is, it’s relatively quick and easy to do …

via Psychology Today by Gina Vild

KEY POINTS

  • “Remembering when” with others can instantly make you happier.
  • Recalling happy memories is a powerful way to interrupt negative thoughts.
  • A bedtime practice of remembering joyful experiences that have enriched your life can boost life satisfaction.

“Moments big as years,” a phrase coined by the poet John Keats, suggests that some brief experiences are so vivid and powerful that they remain with us for all of our life. These moments tend to reflect experiences that are emotionally resonant. In them, we can find both meaning and joy, and they can serve us long after they occurred, contributing to our overall happiness and resilience. They are a gift that keeps on giving.

Since childhood, I’ve had a bedtime ritual that continues to this day. Every night, as my head hits the pillow, I take a moment to retrieve a positive memory, experience, or interaction from my past. This simple practice never fails to relax me and make me happy. Over the years, I never thought much about this youthful practice because long ago it became a sheer reflex, an unconscious habit.

So imagine how startled I was when, while scanning research news at my desk at Harvard Medical School a few years ago, I stumbled upon a study showing how past events can be used to boost present emotions. It was a fascinating find. Somehow, decades earlier, I had accidentally embedded into my life a practice that was acting as a mood enhancer by triggering both greater life satisfaction and joy.

Happiness-Boosting Nostalgia

This research showed that those who intentionally recall and savor positive memories experience a greater enjoyment of life. Those who reminisced and actively engaged in reliving happy experiences reported greater happiness and higher levels of satisfaction than those who did not have an intentional practice. Nostalgia, sentimental affection for past events that have happy personal associations, was proving to be a dynamic happiness booster. Nostalgia, it turns out, has the power to boost self-esteem, amplify positive emotions, and even act as a buffer against negative thoughts.

In addition to trumpeting the benefits of reminiscing, the study also explored techniques to inspire reflection. The participants were divided into three groups, with one group being instructed to spend 10 minutes twice a day reflecting deeply on a positive personal memory. Another group was asked to focus on mementos such as photographs or personal objects that held sentimental value, while a third group was instructed to relax while contemplating current concerns.

The results showed that the two groups that focused on positive memories and valued mementos reported greater feelings of positivity than the group that ruminated on problems. This suggests that intentional reflection on positive life experiences and meaningful objects can be an effective way to cultivate feelings of greater happiness and positivity…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE