Do you ever feel like life seems to blur together, from one memory to the next with considerable gaps of time forgotten?
I remember nervously missing my first kiss, road-tripping through Panama, and feeling a light drizzle on my wedding day. But what about the countless hours in between those moments – do they count?
In a recent study, 34 members of an active retirement community were asked to share their life story in 30 minutes. Researchers consistently found memories occurring between the ages of 15 and 30 were largely over-represented.1
I recently turned 27 and don’t want to forget the rest of my life. Better yet, I want it to be chockful of powerful moments I can tell to my grandkids.
Chip and Dan Heath have written all about the power of moments and the science on how to create them in: The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.2
1. Elevate Moments
Do you know how there are moments when the world moves so slowly you can feel your bones shifting, your mind tumbling? When you think that no matter what happens to you for the rest of your life, you will remember every last detail of that one minute forever?
In the retirement community study, participants overly highlighted periods of transition – moving, starting college, having a child. Chip and Dan Heath call these experiences moments of elevation. They explain “the most memorable periods of our lives are when we break the script.”
We are all guilty of turning on the tv when we’re bored and looking for something do. Yet, there’s nothing memorable about binge-watching Netflix. Unless it’s The Office – I remember so many of Michael Scott’s lines.
Breaking the script doesn’t have to be complicated. On your next date night, have a picnic, go rock climbing, or take a salsa class. Boosting your sensory appeal is an added bonus to heighten the moment. Hear the salsa music playing. Feel the sweat drip down your back. Watch your partner move.
2. Shape Moments
Our memory tells us stories, that is what we get to keep from our experiences – a story.
When reflecting on our experiences, our memories are not just an average of everything we did in a day. Rather we forget most of what happened and focus on a few significant moments – peaks, valleys, and the ending.3
So, the next time you are planning a family vacation, don’t stress about having something fun to do every minute of the day. Focus on one or two extraordinary experiences to shape your memories.
Additionally, at the end the day, take a minute to bring into focus a few moments that meant something to you. This way you can finish the day on a high note.
3. Celebrate Moments
There is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.
We all want to feel appreciated for our contributions and recognized for our achievements.4 Why else would you keep all your trophies from little league baseball?
You finished a big project at work. Celebrate. Your kid aced a tough class. Celebrate. You got out of bed. Celebrate – ok maybe make your bed first and then celebrate.5
A great way to create celebratory occasions is to set goals for yourself. Plan a series of milestones that build on each other in route to a more substantial goal. As you celebrate each accomplishment along the way, you will build motivation and momentum that keep you going.
4. Connect Moments
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Of all the beautiful memories you have, what is the one thing that is always present – for me its people. Chip and Dan Heath explain how we strengthen moments by sharing them with others. Furthermore, we can deepen that bond by taking on a demanding task together.
In the Spanish village of San Pedro Manrique, a fire walking ritual is performed annually on the summer solstice. Participants carry a loved one on their back across a bed of red-hot coals. The performers reported feeling one with the community and even had synchronized heart rates with the spectators.6
You don’t need to get 1st degree burns to bond with a friend. Try building a wheelchair ramp for someone in need or join a city soccer league. The authors even recommend an app7 with a series of questions scientifically designed to form a bond between two people.
If we understand what powerful moments are made of, we can be intentional about creating them. Don’t let ordinary days stop you from creating powerful moments.
Make memories that will last a lifetime.
What are some of your best memories?
How do you create powerful moments?
Join the conversation below.