Chapter 37 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan

IN AN EXPERIMENT at the University of Georgia, students were asked to remember a pleasant outdoor experience they'd had recently. Afterwards, they filled out a questionnaire rating their feelings of tension, relaxation and alertness.

Later the students experienced meditation by listening to recorded instructions with their eyes closed. Again, afterwards they filled out the questionnaire.

The verdict? Recalling a pleasant memory improved their concentration and lessened their anxiety better than meditation!

And recalling pleasant memories strengthens those memories. It makes those memories more real and easier to recall. Every event you experience in your life makes a pathway in your brain a pattern of connections between neurons. But the pathway is weak. If you never recall that event again, your memory of it becomes weaker as time goes on until it becomes almost impossible to remember what happened, even if the experience was emotionally significant.

Some people are unhappy only because they don't remember the good times. Researchers find that depressed people have as many nice experiences as everyone else, but they don't remember them as well. They've gotten into the habit of reminiscing about the negative experiences, so those seem numerous and vivid, and they let all the positive experiences fade into the past. So it seems to them that life is tragic and filled with loss and misery.

Make it a point to recall your good times. Think about them now and then. Reminisce with your spouse or a friend or one of your children. Reminisce in letters to friends and relatives. They want to hear about your good times, anyway - especially recent good times - so let yourself go. Writing about them will strengthen your memories. When you look back on your life, it'll be easier to see the beauty of it, and your life in the present will feel richer.


Think back over the last couple of weeks and try to recall the small pleasures: the tiny victories, the little moments of kindness and love, the gentle feelings of satisfaction. Feel free to recall the big ones too, but you have a lot more small ones, and you'll probably be surprised to realize how many you have.

Reminisce about special times of your life: moments of love, of awakening, of turning points, of great insight. Remember the events that help give life meaning. Remember the times that have shaped your life, or that you want to shape your life. You have had special moments when you saw how wonderful life could be or when you gained some unusual insight. If nothing more is done with those, the memory of them and the power of the insights can fade. Remember those moments. Remember what they meant. Remember what they could mean and your memory will help make it so.

Reminisce about the good times and the special times. Strengthen those memories. Store them up. They are your true riches.

Reminisce about the best times.

Would you like to stand as a pillar of strength during difficult times? There is a way. It takes some discipline but it is very simple.
Pillar of Strength

When a close friend of yours or your spouse is disturbed by something, and you want to help them, what do you do? What actually helps? Find out here:
A Friend in Deed

When Steven Callahan was struggling to survive during his seventy-six days on a life raft, what did he do with his mind that gave him the strength to continue? Read about it here:

next: Adventure

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 30). Riches, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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