You’ve probably heard a version of this before. Since the rise of the industrial revolution, our society has struggled with an obsession for the consumption of material things.
Even the act of traveling and going on a vacation has a material component, as it requires money. Ironically, even those who seem to have everything in life are still prone to anxiety and depression.
If you’re currently experiencing a wave of unhappiness in your life, you should know that you already have everything you need to lift yourself up.
You have the ability to reflect on past memories, as well as being able to collect memories that are new.
How Do We Collect Memories?
Being able to collect memories isn’t just about our brain encoding different events through our senses. It is more about how we make sense of our memories, what we learn, and how we choose to remember our past.
What are the stories you like to tell others?
What about the stories you tend to tell yourself?
Whether we are thinking about the past, the present, or the future, it is our subjective narrative that shapes and creates our memories.
Here are 15 reasons why we should focus on collecting more memories instead of things
#1: Memories help us to learn about the world, ourselves, and others.
When we reflect on our lives, we can see how everything has built upon itself. Everything we have learned up until this point is like a bag of tools.
We can use these tools to shift our thoughts and behaviors in the present, thus creating better experiences and healthier relationships.
#2: Memories help to define who we are: our personalities, relationships, and life events.
Who would you be without your memories? That is a pretty difficult thing to imagine. That’s why it is completely normal for our memories to influence our thoughts and behavior in the present.
The way in which our memories define us is how our brain attempts to protect itself as a means of survival.
#3: Bad memories teach us valuable lessons.
If you have memories that seem to haunt you, you’re not alone. Bad memories affect us all. One way to move past them is to realize the lessons they have taught you.
When we can be humble about our past experiences, it releases the pressure that those memories have had on us.
We have learned how to better protect ourselves, which gives us the confidence we need in order to move forward.
#4: Memories don’t have a shelf life.
Most things you can buy will break down over time. Cars, shoes, houses, jewelry, and all other material possessions will eventually need to be replaced.
Memories on the other hand, will serve you as long as you have your mind.
And with the help of photos, mementos, and diaries – you can make efforts in preserving your precious memories as you age.
#5: Memories don’t require money.
Certainly, money can sometimes be a necessary tool in creating memories. We wouldn’t be able to go on a trip to Europe or camping in the mountains without cash.
The point is that memories can be created with or without money, and that money alone will not create a meaningful memory.
We can create meaning out of whatever we want.
Our ability to collect memories is a tool that is always available to us regardless of what is in our bank account.
#6: Memories can turn into stories that are fun to share with others.
Think about the last time you laughed so hard that you cried during a story someone told you.
Being able to share our stories with those around us is one of the greatest parts about being human.
Talking to others about our experiences is cathartic and helps us to make better sense of our experiences. It brings comedic relief into our lives and helps us not feel so alone.
#7: Memories help us bond with our loved ones.
If you have a significant other that you’ve been together with for a long time, think about your first date.
Being able to listen to their stories probably gave you a million reasons to fall in love with them, and vice versa.
As you grow as a couple, knowing their stories makes new experiences with them even more special as you create new memories together.
You become part of their story and they become part of yours.
#8: New experiences give us opportunities to meet new people.
Even if you don’t have a significant other, every day is an opportunity to dive into new experiences.
When we can have the confidence to do something on our own, we can open ourselves up to the new people we might meet along the way.
This gives us the chance to develop new relationships and collect memories with people that we never knew existed.
#9: No two memories are the same.
Maybe there’s a designer handbag or watch you’ve been dying to have. But did you ever stop to think how many lookalike versions there are?
Maybe that will change your perspective on value. Instead of spending that money on mass-produced goods, consider saving that money to book a trip across the other side of the world.
Your experience will never be the same as someone else’s.
#10: Your memories can’t be stolen from you.
Unless science fiction becomes a reality and real “men in black” can erase your memory with the touch of a button— your mind is the one thing that cannot be stolen from you.
A thief can steal your car, your TV, or your money, but they cannot steal your mind.
Think of your brain as the world’s most secure safe that houses the most valuable of possessions— your memories.
#11: Memories are priceless.
Dr. Seuss once said, “sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Not only are our memories entirely unique, they can never be replaced. You will never again have this exact moment, at this exact age.
Make it count.
As you continue to collect memories, think of them as the world’s most valuable coins being deposited into your bank account.
#12: Memories can give us a feeling of accomplishment and improve our ability to meet our goals.
Think about a goal or aspiration that you’ve always had. For example, maybe you’ve been wanting to get back into shape.
If your goal is to hike to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain this summer, you will create an amazing memory of accomplishment on the day you finally reach the summit.
This memory alone has the power to keep you on track, turning your goal into a consistent and healthy habit.
#13: Memories can cheer us up on bad days.
Next time you’ve having one of those days when nothing seems to go your way, look back on a photo album from a trip you took last year or read some of your old diary entries.
Even if you feel mixed emotions while you’re reminiscing, it will undoubtedly help you to feel better about your current situation.
It can give you hope for the future, helping you to remember that your life is a series of fleeting events and that this too shall pass.
#14: Memories encourage us to slow down and appreciate the little things.
Sometimes it is the most humbling of moments that seem to leave the biggest imprint on our memories. As we grow older, loss is inevitable.
The expiration date on our lives encourages us to remember our earlier years. Sometimes memories can seem bittersweet. This phenomenon can help us remember that every moment is a gift.
We can begin to truly appreciate the things we have, instead of pining over the things we don’t have.
#15: Memories can morph into legacies that live on after we’re gone.
Guy de Maupassant said, “our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.”
This is the one way we know that we are able to live on after we die— in the memories of those who are still living.
This is why you shouldn’t waste your life on material possessions, and focus more on leaving your mark on this planet. Try to leave behind a legacy that generations from now will still be able to enjoy long after you’re gone.
If you’re currently experiencing a wave of unhappiness in your life, remember that you’re not alone. The good news is that you don’t need to collect more money or more things to improve your thoughts and feelings.
You can make the choice right now to start being more present in the moment, and being grateful for the memories you have and your ability to create more.
When we can shift our perspective and collect memories not things— we can maximize our potential to have amazing experiences, regardless of our material possessions.