How to Make Memories Last

Holding on to the “Good Times”

Image shows a person's hand holding open the lid to a wooden box filled with old photographs.
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

When you try to recall an event or you are asked about a specific period of time from your past, why are some memories more easily recollected than others?

Making Connections

Significant memories are tied to physiological and/or emotional responses. If you want to make memories of certain events or situations that are more easily recalled, you should make as many connections as possible, whether visual, physical/kinesthetic (employing taste or touch), auditory, or emotional.

The emotional connection seems to be the strongest of these responses. If you think back to an interaction from your past, did you have superficial, surface conversations, or were they more significant, evoking an emotional response? Chances are, your most powerful memories are associated with emotion(s).

If there is a particular event in your future, and you want to make or hold on to lasting memories of those situations or interactions with people, consider engaging in discussions or conversations that are on a deeper level, or perhaps euphoric, prompting laughter. Allow yourself to express feelings that are more significant than what is part of your normal, everyday rhetoric.

Engage your senses ✋️ 👅 👃 👁 👂

Adding your other senses will help to solidify the memory. Take notice of what someone is wearing and comment on it; listen to the inflections in people’s voices; observe the weather; smell the food or fragrance in the air, and so on. Above all, let your consciousness be fully engaged in that moment.

Jay Gottfried of University College London’s Department of Imaging Neuroscience led a recent study of memory retrieval.

“That’s the beauty of our memory system,” he says. “Imagine a nice day on the beach. The smell of sun lotion, the friends you were with, the beer you were drinking; any of these could trigger memories of the whole thing.”

Odor memory, they went on to say, seems to be the sense that is most resistant to forgetting, but it is not known why. I have heard this from many people who say that a certain smell reminds them of their grandmother’s apple pie, for instance. So, breathe those experiences in through your nose and hold them there. 🐽

Be Aware

I know the phrase “Be present in the moment” is a rather overused, cliché. Basically, the gist of it is not to allow your mind to be too distracted and take away from what is happening in your current situation. If you want to make memories that last and can be summoned to the forefront of your mind whenever you choose, be more aware of your experiences as they occur.

Those who regularly practice some type of mindfulness methods can most likely relate to these ideas. I won’t go into detail about such techniques, as it would take up an entire article in itself. In a nutshell, mindfulness helps a person to be hyper-aware of themselves and what is around them.

Remember This

In order to make long-lasting, easily recalled memories, engage in meaningful conversations that evoke emotion, deploy your five senses in any and all ways possible, and develop an overall awareness of yourself and what’s around you.

*Originally published on Medium

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich

I hope this article has been informative and helpful in some way. If so, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to see more of my posts whenever they are published.

Published by Brandon Ellrich

I live in Central Missouri and enjoy reading, writing, playing tennis, watching movies, and exploring creative outlets. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and I love to take my readers inside the minds of my characters.

7 thoughts on “How to Make Memories Last

  1. I’ve been quite fascinated by memory, particularly how two people can experience the same event but have wildly different memories of it. My brother and I have such starkly different takes on our childhood and, as you’ve written about here, it’s probably due to our own emotional response to the situations.

    Liked by 1 person

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