Remember that new podcast I announced in September? Well, I pushed pause on podcasting in October because I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the sound or the content. So, I took a break. I’m glad I did, because in the four weeks of October, I found my voice and solidified my purpose. And, I sought out help in improving the sound quality. I talk about all that in Episode 4 of Tell Me A Story, titled “The Power of Positive Memories”.
Words from a Native American author and speaker helped me identify the “why” behind the “what” of my podcast. In her beautiful benediction at the 2018 Evolving Faith summit, Kaitlin Curtice described for us what it means to be “illuminators”, to shine light on the light that is in others. “Light begets light. Love begets love.” She encouraged us to “pass the Mic”. Her words were affirmation for what I’ve intended all along — to invite people to tell their own stories on my podcast. I can’t wait to begin welcoming guests to “tell me a story” but, in the current podcast episode, I’ve taken a moment to share stories of two dear friends who have already lived their life stories and who left so many good memories for those who have grieved their passing.
I also took a break from blogging in October. There were already enough words flying around the blogosphere and I didn’t have anything of value to add. In a short post for Five Minute Friday at the end of October, I talk about breaking my silence to cast my vote and about trusting the One who will never fail me.
In the silence, I rediscovered the power of positive memories
My personal take-away from a month of silence is that I still believe our life stories are powerful and deserve to be embraced by us and shared with others. In fact, recalling positive memories and expressing gratitude for them can improve our mental and emotional health.
Health and Science Writer Markham Heid, in an essay written a few months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, noted that “taking time each day or week to think about the things in life for which one is grateful can improve mental health outcomes and well-being.”
Heid titled his essay The Power of Positive Memories. The sub-heading read “Remembering happy times may offer protection for mental health.” He begins his essay with this this observation “When the going gets tough the tough get nostalgic.”
According to Heid, “Memories of happy experiences — especially ones that involve social interaction — seem to benefit people because they reshape how we see ourselves for the better.”
The past nine months have stirred fear and feelings of doubt over the goodness of life in the year 2020. Many of us have lost our optimism, replacing it with dread. We may feel hopeless as a global health crisis and conflicts over racial injustice have taken over the news cycle and bled into our conversations. With Thanksgiving approaching, we might think we have little for which to be thankful.
Heid quoted a gratitude researcher and professor of psychology who said that recalling happy memories — and creating new ones through positive experiences — can fuel feelings of gratitude and turn off the spigot of negativity.
He said research suggests a happy, mentally healthy brain is one that regularly recalls moments that inspire positivity and feelings of gratitude. Especially during times of stress or sadness, redirecting one’s thoughts to better times or memories of gratifying experiences may prove to be a powerful safeguard against anxiety and depression.
Thanksgiving — however you are able to share it — is a time to remember “the good old days”. While holidays may stir sadness as we remember those we lost, they can also become an occasion to bring them to life in our hearts and minds through stories.
We should not wait for a holiday or an untimely death to embrace happy memories and to hold them with gratitude for the pleasure and the healing they bring. Our stories are a priceless treasure, a gift, a legacy. They are meant to be shared.
(Note: The photo above was taken on the shore of Lake Superior this summer. My husband and I created some powerful positive memories in a weekend getaway with his family. Priceless.)