How to Create Great Memories – And Why We Should

By Shlomo  Maital


Very few readers will recall the American comedian Bob Hope, whose radio theme song was Thanks for the Memory:      “Thanks for the memory,  of sentimental verse and nothing in my purse, And chuckles when the preacher said, “For better or for worse”,  How lovely it was…”  

   Today’s New York Times has a fine op-ed article by neuroscientist Kelly Lambert.  She observes that “neuroimaging evidence indicates that when certain events are recalled – presumably after being triggered by familiar sights, smells or sounds – emotional brain areas are activated as well as visceral responses. You relive the feelings you experienced in the past.”  I think this is a crucial observation.  Great memories are like a perpetual feast. You experience them once, you remember them many many times.  So it is crucial to shape HOW we remember things. 

   When you are about to make a decision, ask yourself,  how will I recall this?  Will I recall it as one of my finest moments, as an action true to myself, to my values? Or will I relive it, in shame, in sadness, in regret? 

   “Thanks for the memory, Of rainy afternoons that pulls me by the case,  And how I jumped the day you trumped my one and only ace,  How lovely it was…”

    According to Kelly Lambert, “addicted rats experience pleasure when they anticipate receiving cocaine, even if they don’t actually consume it.”  There is another key point here about how to live.  Don’t rush to seize pleasure.  Defer it.  Because the anticipation itself brings pleasure.   

    “We said goodbye with a highball   Then I got as high as a steeple  But we were intelligent people, no tears, no fuss,  Hooray, for us”

      What this means is:   Life is about before, during and after.    Before – if before a happy event – is full of pleasure and meaning.  Don’t rush it.  Create events that you anticipate and look forward to, well in advance.   Then during.  Seize the moment.  Enjoy.  Shape the memory!   And finally after.  Relive the good memories that you were wise enough to create. 

     “So, thanks for the memory, Of sunburns at the shore, darling, how are you?, You might have been a headache, but you never were a bore, I’m awfully glad I met you, cheerio and toodle-oo,  And thank you so much…”

       Lambert notes that there are “benefits of trying to assure that my girls have an emotional holiday portal for their future adult brains”, referring to Christmas.