Five minutes ago I ate a fresh, juicy raspberry.

My mind leaped back to when I was a young child. I was in my grandmother’s backyard picking raspberries fresh from her summer garden. She asked me to pick some for dessert, but I snuck a few into my mouth. My grandmother was a baker and a caregiver, and her love was present in the meals she served. The taste of a fresh raspberry sends me back to those memories, full of love, a safe childhood, and my grandmother with a heart of gold and a fresh, abundant garden.

If I am having a bad day or a busy day, I can buy or pick fresh raspberries and one taste sends me back to childhood ease at grandma’s in the summer. And in that moment my body relaxes, as if it was in that long ago moment.

Memories are unique. Our emotions don’t really know the difference between a memory and a current event, in that both can bring equal joy, pain, sorrow or comfort. Bring a memory forward and the emotion is felt in present day.

This can be a blessing…or a curse.

Since it is difficult to keep our mind from wandering into the past, what if we could use our memory to help us appreciate the present? What if we let our mind travel to memories that bring a smile to our face, or help us appreciate how fortunate our life is?

Since our mind travels back and forth in time anyways, why not give into our mind with purposefully pleasureful memories in order to create those good feelings today?

How can we jolt our memory to create joy today?

1. Play a Song to connect to a specific year in your life – some music reminds me of the angst of being a teenager, but some specific songs make me smile or even laugh! I heard Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero” today and smiled at the vacation memories, singing that song with our summer friends. Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” reminds me of the two sleepy weeks shortly after my son, Ryan, was born.

I have two new ‘happy’ songs now – both from my children. They recently performed to them at the school talent show.

What songs bring you back to a happy memory … summertime, school friends, a vacation or a special event?

2. Taste food to bring a memory into focus. What was made for you in a joyful moment or celebration? For example, strawberries (or strawberry pie) reminds me of my dad, roast beef with yorkshire pudding reminds me of both my mother-in-law and my mother, and using one specific pot to boil water or make chili reminds me of my other grandmother.

What meals, tastes or even smells remind you of a childhood event, or a celebration?

3. View photographs to feel the memories of a happy holiday. These days photos can be set up as a screen saver on a computer, giving easy access to holiday memories.

Where are your holiday photos? Are they easy to see?

Our memories rely on our senses. Taste, touch, sound, sight or smell (the strongest link to memory, from what I remember)… use these to bring pleasant memories into your day.

When you remember, do not let your thoughts take a turn, like, “I wish I was back there,” or “we haven’t done anything like that is a long time.” Keep your memories and emotions on the joy, laughter and happiness of the moment you remember.

The Final Step to make a memory work for you now?

Bring that emotion into the present, with our without the memory. Simply feel the emotion. Feel the joy, no matter what you are doing now. Smile to bring the laughter into your body. Appreciate the love of someone special in your life now, just as you felt the love of someone in the past.

Be present with a mental trigger from a past memory.

What memories can you carry with you to take you away from moments of stress or unhappiness. What music, taste or visual triggers will create an uplifting mood for you, now, and when you need it?

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