What are we without our memories?

From the moment we are born, our experiences create memories which shape the person we become. Whether it’s from lessons learned or emotions associated with people or things, memories can be joyous and painful, but are all important just the same.


Of course, we know that recollection and retention become more difficult as we get older – we don’t need to be reminded of that – but it doesn’t mean we should accept the fact that we are going to forget things. Yes, it’s impossible to remember everything, but there are effective ways in which to help our minds out. How memories are triggered is certainly a complicated process, but having a slightly better understanding of it can help us re-access and hold on to memories which we might previously have thought lost. 


Memories can be triggered in numerous ways. One of the strongest triggers is smell – we may buy a new soap, unwrap it, catch its scent, and instantly be transported back to our childhood bath time. Other triggers include taste, familiar objects, and of course, environmental factors. For example, if you drive past your old primary school, you are likely to experience an inundation of memories associated with your time there.


Sometimes you may be completely unaware of a memory until it suddenly comes flooding back to you when you least expect it. For these instances – if you want to be able to recall them at a later stage – it is perhaps a good idea to keep a notebook dedicated to memories, where you can jot down as many details as possible before they are lost again. If you are unable to revisit places from your past, you can always find other ways to access those types of memories, such as doing a google search to see what a particular place from your past may look like now – your childhood home for instance.


Another very simple way to remember is to get out your old photographs. They may encapsulate a very specific moment in time, but if we allow ourselves to reminisce, we can easily become immersed in that moment – able to recall countless details about it; such as what else happened on that day, something someone said, where you got those shoes from, why you were all gathered at that place, and the list goes on and on, all leading to more memories. Think about showing these photos to your friends, you’ll find more comes back to you when you talk about them. Your friends may even share experiences related to yours – leading to long conversations about times gone by. You could also ask a family member to tell you what they remember about a photograph. They might have a different perspective, with a completely different set of memories attached to the same moment – fascinating, isn’t it?


The process of how memories are made and recalled is a very interesting one indeed, and we should certainly try to hold on to the important ones. This is why keeping a diary is so greatly stressed when we are young, but most of us don’t realise the importance until we are older. It is never too late, however!


We must make a point of cherishing the present and the people that occupy it, and look for the opportunities to make even more happy memories every day.


Memories photo negative held up to sunlight by hands