Over the past 10 years or so, I have read many excellent books on new discoveries about how our brain works. Many of them have shown that humans are quick to remember bad things that happened to us but are slow to recall the good memories. There have been many explanations for why this happens to us, and since I don’t wish to go into a scientific discourse on the issue due to a lack of space, I will ask you to do your own search on the Internet by choosing such words as, “why we remember bad things easier than good things.”
About three years ago I decided to create a Good Memories Jar that I keep in my den near my meditation area. Throughout the year I jot down on a small piece of paper some fun, memorable thing that happened and place it in the jar. I love watching the jar fill up as the year progresses, but I don’t peek. On December 31, I remove all the slips of paper and read them out loud, slowly, savoring the good memories and the feelings they produced both at the time and in the present. It’s a New Year’s gift I give myself. I tape each one to a larger piece of paper and save the document. It’s then saved in my computer. I can return to the document any time I want a spiritual lift.
Larry and I have been members of a Mastermind group for a couple of years, and it has been an incredible experience for both of us. I decided to fill in as group leader and that’s been a blessing in itself; however, what I want to share is that we added as a structural element of each meeting a time of sharing the good things that happened to us since the previous meeting. Each of us writes these things down to keep as a personal journal and we give copies to each member of the group as well. Even though I don’t go back and read each person’s list of good memories, I am, nonetheless, gratified to know that each of us is creating good memories!
This has turned out to be a very powerful activity for me and I have added a few steps for myself. I recently did some “copy/paste” of all the good things I had recorded and compiled them into a separate document (which I saved), and then printed the document. I reviewed each week’s entries and chose one to save in a separate document. I now have “Paula’s Favorites,” a list of good memories that are all on one sheet.
So now I have a separate sheet of good memories in my jar which have been added to what’s already in there for the year. This December 31 is going to be exciting and rewarding as I review and reflect.
Brain studies have reported many positive effects for someone who makes the conscious choice to remember helpful, positive, informative, inspirational things that happened to them. Conversely, studies show that there could actually be real damage to the brain that ruminates over unpleasant, fearful, contentious memories. The neat thing for me, as a student of New Thought my entire life, is that one of the founders of New Thought philosophies in our modern day, Charles Fillmore, actually spoke and wrote about how destructive negative thoughts can be, in a biological sense. Naturally, there are occasions when what we might consider a negative thought can be very helpful, even life-saving! But, what we are referring to here are the negative thoughts of fear, lack, inadequacy, etc. that dominate our thinking and result in less than optimal behaviors.
So, I invite you to create your own method of remembering the good and pleasant things that happen in your life. I guarantee that for most of us, if we don’t record them in some way, they will disappear in the ethers, as the studies have shown. You might want to create a separate journal and make a date with yourself to sit down and genuinely reflect on the recent past and bring to mind the good memories and write them down! You might want to make a Good Memories Jar as I did. You may want to create your own Mastermind group and integrate the practice, as we did, of sharing with the group the good things that happened recently.
I actually feel that this could be one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself as you walk the path of spiritual development. Change your brain and reap the rewards of doing so! After all, Jesus’s first words to his followers as he began his ministry were, “Repent,” or re-think. Think on the good.