January 19: Let’s Celebrate “Good Memory Day”!

A good life is a collection of happy memories.”

–Denis Waitley

One of my first memories is in the home of my childhood best friend. It was the middle of the day, and we had snuck into her big brother’s room to look at his fish tank. That’s it. That’s the memory. Nothing earth shattering. Nothing life changing. Just two four year olds sneaking a peek at some fish. But that memory is coated in a warm, happy glow because we were together and we were happy.

Everyone remembers the big stuff: the births, the deaths, the firsts, the victories, the applause,…but what about the small stuff? The little memories of fleeting moments infused with happiness and contentment?

When I studied abroad for a summer, I took a trip by myself to Paris. I saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame, but my favorite memory of the day is reading a book in the bathtub that evening in my hotel, knowing I had successfully navigated the city on my own without getting lost and had checked off every item on the list of things I wanted to see. I felt the complete satisfaction of a day well-lived.

When my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got married, it was a beautiful day with a beautiful dress, lots of dancing and so much joy, but the memory I hold onto most happened in my father-in-law’s kitchen that night. The seven of us were gathered around the table eating the rest of the groom’s cake, the groom already changed out of his tux and now in comfy clothes, the bride, still in full make-up and her lacy gown. The juxtaposition of their outfits made me giggle to myself at the time, compounded by the fact that we were chowing down on one of their cakes in the kitchen. The joy in that room was palpable from a day well-lived.

Once you become a parent, you have a lot more of these kinds of moments, little mental pictures you know you’ll hold onto forever for the innocence and joy they represent: the way my son played with the tassel on his cap throughout his preschool graduation, the mental image I have of looking over at my daughter while we sat on the hammock underneath the porch in our beach rental. Of course the big moments are special (the birthdays, the Christmas mornings, the vacations), but I’m even more thankful for the little moments, because life is defined by an accumulation of little moments that truly define a life well-lived.

making a list of your favorite memories. Be specific, and keep it in a place where you can easy refer back to it and add to it. (Mine’s in my nightstand drawer.)

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