“One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past.”
By: Emily Sorrentino, Guest Blogger
When we are young, our minds are a blank canvas. We hold the paint brushes, and the paint. We have the opportunity and the power to create whatever we want. We add color to our own lives. As we grow and as we discover our worlds, the picture grows and it changes us. The beautiful thing is the memories that form as a result of what we experience.
Memories are the most powerful product of our incredible minds. They have the ability to change how we act, how we feel, and who we are. Psychology has proven that mood and memory go hand-in-hand. Experiencing good moods and forming happy memories will work together to keep you happy in the long run.
This can happen in two ways. The first is known as state-dependent memory. This is a method of memory retrieval in which we are more likely to recall a certain memory when it involves the specific mood that we feel at the time. In other words, we will likely remember something happy from the past when we are happy in the present.
The other way this can happen is called mood-congruent memory. It is a similar concept that states when we recall happy memories, we will, as a result, replicate those happy feelings experienced in the memory. This is an even more efficient way to lift your spirits if you feel upset, angry, or weary.
So, how can this information help someone? If you are diagnosed with depression, or if you are experiencing a mild case of a depressive disorder, one recommended method of treatment is going to be therapy. In this type of therapy, it is likely that your therapist will take you through exercises including recalling happy memories. This is one way that they will try to help you conjure a happy feeling in the hopes that it will stick and help with recovery.
This can cause a chain effect. If happiness is present, then more positive memories are likely to come flooding back. In some cases, this, often along with medication, can lead a patient to full recovery.
So, if these simple methods can be used to soothe depression, why should it not be used to prevent it? I understand hopelessness, and I know it can make you feel weak and powerless, but we should all know that happiness is a state of mind. Happiness should never be a destination that we try to reach. We should never believe that we need to base our happiness on how much we achieve. We can’t go through life only being happy when we’ve reached socially predetermined goals, like getting married or having kids. Happiness is a state of being. We can be happy at any moment of any day. It’s up to us to make it happen.
If all it takes to brighten our day is a good memory of a happy feeling, I think it’s extremely important to make sure we have those memories in our minds. I’m 18 years old, and I realize now more than ever that this one life that we are given is meant to be lived. I’m actively trying to take every opportunity I can to get out and live life to the fullest. I want to remember all of the important moments. When I wake up at the beach and smell the fresh, salty air, when I drive around town with friends with the windows open and the breeze in our hair, and when I am surrounded by my entire class dressed in blue graduation robes and I realize this is the last step. I am coming up on my last week of high school, but I won’t be sad because I have everything I need to remember. I am prepared to leave and not look back, but I know that I will look back some day. At least I know I can be happy about it.
So, simply live your life. Make memories that you will want to look back on and remember that those memories are your keys to happiness. They will take you far, if you let them. And when you don’t feel as good, they will be your cure.