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Happy memories can keep away the darkness inside us, give us strength when we need it. Can you actually create a ‘bank’ of happy memories you can draw on to keep the Dementors at bay?
It was a bright summer evening, and I went out on to the patio to bring my towel I had put out to dry. Instinctively, I brought it close to me and inhaled the scent. It immediately took me back to my days growing up in the sweltering heat of western India. I had forgotten what sun-dried clothes felt like. Having moved to the U.S. several years ago, I had started using a dryer, like everyone else.
As I went down memory lane, I remembered bringing in my mother’s stiff starched sarees, school uniforms, bedsheets and other clothes, all smelling faintly of Surf. Thoughts of my mom took me down another lane. She always bought (and still does) Liril soap during the summers and Pears during the winters. Even when I left home, I continued buying the same soaps. It never occurred to me that I could buy any soap I wanted. I guess a part of me wanted to bring ‘home’ with me.
Another strong memory is from the time I was around 12. I walked out to the balcony one day to see the bluest sky I had ever seen. As I stared at it, I realized that this was a moment I had to capture and never forget. I stayed there, absorbing every second of it and trying to imprint it in my brain. Now, all I have to do is close my eyes to feel the same bliss and happiness.
As I pondered over my thoughts, I realized that I was blessed to have powerful and beautiful memories to hold on to. My memories were my havens, where I could go whenever I wanted to. They made me feel strong, loved and happy.
Who are we, if not an amalgam of our experiences and memories? Memories give us a context and an identity. They let us be in two places at a time: the present and the past. Of course, there are both good and bad memories. We tend to push the negative memories into the far recesses of memory and avoid triggers that act as reminders.
But what about our positive memories? How can we relive and draw energy from them? Research at the University of Southampton found that nostalgia makes people happier, improves their sense of well-being and helps them develop a positive attitude.
Here is a simple three-step process to create powerful memories that you can use:
What are you trying to deal with in life? What motivates and inspires you? What brings you peace? Find out the answers. These are the experiences you need to capture forever. For me, it is the inevitability of my mother’s death. I know I can deal with it more peacefully, since I have powerful memories of my mother that I can draw upon, anytime I like.
The beauty of a memory is that you never know when it hits you. An old song, a scent, a flower, a color – literally anything can bring them back. But you CAN create a memory bank from where you can extract memories, exactly when you need them.
My ‘blue sky’ memory is so strong that I am able to use it to bring a sense of peace and calm on my not-so-good days. In fact, I used it when I was in labor, with my second child. It was right at the end when I just couldn’t push anymore. I wanted everything to end. I closed my eyes, told myself that I had the bluest sky to look forward to, and gave the biggest push I could.
Remember that reliving a memory is not about looking at photographs. Sometimes you don’t even need a photograph. It is about bringing the memory back to life. You need to give time to the memory to work its magic. Close your eyes and picture the memory. Where were you standing? What did you feel? What sounds did you hear? What did you say?
I leave you with an uncredited quote: “The Power of memories – What we choose to remember defines who we are.”
Image source: pixabay
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I am an Indian living in the United States. Family comprises my husband and two
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