Discover more from Weekend Wisdom - Dan Isaacman
How to Live a Memorable Life
Do you Remember The Past, or Do You Create It?
When you lie on your deathbed, preparing for a dirt nap, what will be the memories that defined your life?
As humans, we count our age in years rather than moments, but what is it that defines us?
There are probably some moments in your life that seem more important to the shaping of your current life that is devoid of the concept of time.
Events that may have been gone in the blink of an eye seem to end up shaping our lives.
We filter all the unnecessary gaps in-between and create a highlight (or lowlight) reel of an entire lifetime as we can recall it.
We can view a collection of memories in our minds-eye, making a day go by in a few seconds, or we can dwell on a brief moment as if it lasted for hours.
So what is it that makes one day or moment more memorable than another?
How does our brain recall memory?
We seem to be able to remove all the millions of bits of irrelevant information and tie up experiences into a neat and logical sequence, linked to the senses—a supposed synaptic symphony of neurons that connect and strengthen as the memory sticks.
The human mind is one of the most incredible tools of mother nature. We can use our imagination to store and recreate past events from our perspective.
We can see with precise detail in our mind. We can see touch, feel, smell, taste and sense a past event.
How, why and what we experience memories as, is not precisely understood.
It can sometimes seem baffling that we all have these imaginations of the past that sometimes feel impossible to prove they even happened.
We live in the present moment in our physical bodies, yet we can go backwards or forwards using our imagination and vision to experience and create fictional realities.
We all have different ways of recalling the events that define us. For some, it may be the colour and vision that is stronger; for others, it may be the sounds and environments.
For me, smell triggers a memory, and a scent of someone's aftershave can remind me of people I met when I was a young child and how I felt at the time.
Memory By Association
Memory is often triggered; it often comes to the surface naturally based on your environment.
Extreme emotional states are usually the defining feature of our most profound memories.
If you think back to your first ever memory that you can recall easily, there is likely a strong or shocking emotion linked to the experience.
It might be hard to whip up memories out of the blue because most of our memories are relative, coming to life when a similar experience or event is happening.
It may be that when you feel a certain way, a memory comes up or it might be that when you perform a specific task, you sense the past pictures in your mind.
If someone asks you to think of something funny or sad on the spot it is usually a challenge, but when the topic comes up, and you are reminiscing about similar events, it is easy to think about times or jokes that relate to the conversation.
Emotional states like gratitude seem to be more conducive to good memories, whereas conditions like uncertainty bring up unsavoury memories.
Is there a way to harness your energy to shape your memory?
When creating memories, you can use techniques of linking your emotional state to an event that you wish to lock into your mind.
If you can elevate your emotional state, you can wire your brain.
Ask yourself, how can I put myself in an emotional state that will make this day or experience memorable?
One of my favourite birthday activities is to dig up old photos and try to put myself in the mindset of the person of my past.
It helps to realise the growth over long periods because it is hard to see change when we are in our bodies day in and day out.
Look back at one of your old photos and see that you can create an entire memory around the image.
Maybe you think back to when you were younger and did something that you would never have been able to do today. "Was that really Me?" you ask yourself "What was I thinking?" You look at a photo of your younger self, and instantly you are transported into the old memory and sometimes even your previous state of mind.
The photo can trigger your state into that past moment, opening up a conversational avenue in your mind to explore the hidden files.
Kodak moments, The Nature of Photography
When growing up, there was an expression called a "Kodak moment".
The moment that you would run to get the camera to capture a memory to cherish for later on.
Photo's changed over time as our film became unlimited, digital and in your pocket.
Our behaviour evolved to seek and create "Instagram Worthy" moments to create an exciting life or illusion.
The shift was that instead of capturing a moment that was already happening, we wanted to create a moment that would become worthy of a photograph.
Consumer photography allowed us to capture the moments that we wished to recall and later to seek and create moments that would become memorable.
Everything you ever wanted is within you.
What do you want your life to look like when you look back?
You are the one who controls your past, through your perception of your memories, triggered by your state.
You are the one who can change your emotional state and shape your life. You are the one who creates your memories.
It's not that you always need to seek photo-worthy moments from the outside world, but that you need to create deep emotional frames of reference to capture and store the memories that you wish to hold dear to your heart.
The states you create will act as a trigger to recall the meaningful memory later in life and make the vision of your past self, one that makes you proud.
When you look back at your life, what will be the moments that define who you are, and how will you help shape your emotional states?