Stress Tip: Banking the Good
Start by paying attention to any moment that feels good or positive. What do you notice? thoughts? Emotions? Physical sensations?
Savour and acknowledge your experience on each occasion, however fleeting.
At the end of the day, reflect back on your experience. How do you feel now?
Unlike potential threats, there is no survival benefit to remembering pleasant experiences, therefore our default setting is to forget them.
However, if we can savour the moment, pausing to notice how it feels in the head, heart, and body, we can bank it in our long-term memory. We can bank it out and experience it again whenever we want.
1. LIVE IN THE MOMENT
We’re often so busy that we forget to actually live them in the moment. We forget to notice the people, the smells, the sounds, and the wonders all around us—the things we can recall without having to turn to our phones.
Researchers find that the more photographs a person took while visiting a museum, the less he or she remembered from the visit.
Researchers found that the more photographs a person took while visiting a museum, the less he or she remembered from the visit.
The next time you’re doing something you might deem memorable, create it for you and the people with you, in that exact moment. Not only might you enjoy it more, you are probably more likely to reap the lasting benefits for years to come.
2. ACTIVELY PRACTICE RECALLING THE GOOD TIMES
We make conscious choices and intentionally schedule our lives when we want something. Why not create a conscious practice to revisit our memories? It might be an annual dinner with friends where you reminisce and share stories. Or a regular journaling practice.
3. PRINT A PHOTO
Remember the good ol’ days when we used to bring in rolls of film, pick up prints of our photos, and spend our weekends scrapbooking? Try returning to those roots and print a few pictures from a memorable hike or blow-out celebration. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to keep the memory alive and to create a reminder to revisit it regularly.
4. GET SOME SLEEP
There’s ample research that shows how important sleep is for memory.
But to break it down in non-science terms: Remember the movie Inside Out, the Pixar film about a young girl named Riley and her crew of emotions? Every night when Riley goes to sleep, her “headquarters”—the home of her emotions—inputs the memories of the day (small marbles that are color-coded by emotion) into a vacuum, which sends them to a “realm” of long-term memories. It’s an important depiction of how we consolidate memories. During deep sleep (also called slow-wave sleep), our brains cement the most important memories for the long haul.
5. TRY A ‘PEAK MOMENTS’ EXERCISE
A favourite exercise that I do with all of my clients is called “banking the good”. I ask the client to close their eyes and let a series of peak moments throughout the day—moments when life was particularly rewarding, positive or uplifting and bank it in your memory.
The client then picks one and dives deep into the moment: who was with her, what the air was like, and what was happening to her on an emotional level. Within minutes, we’re able to pull out what she valued most about the experience—as well as some of the values that guide her daily life.
And once she arrives to the memory, something shifts: Recognizing her core values at play in a past moment gives her a new sense of fulfilment. Nine out of 10 times I do this exercise, my clients exclaim, “Wow, I haven’t thought about that time in years.” But once we do this exercise, I know most clients will come back to their “peak moments” more often, as it is banked in the long term memory bank.
AGAIN: BE SURE TO BALANCE THE PAST WITH THE PRESENT
Try some of these tips and see what you notice. Do you find more nostalgia in your life? Is it benefitting you?
Remember: to be aware of the benefits your past can have on your future. Instead of racing into what’s next without a second thought to where you’ve been, find meaning in what you’re able to recall and let those values guide you in the present.
Start Now: “No day but today.”