Influences that shaped your life
By Arlene Harder, MA, MFT and John Fabian, Ph.D.
When you are laughing and having a good time with people you love, you feel well physically. While you are experiencing that event, your mind stores the sensory images connected with it, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and texture that contributed to your pleasure. When you remember that occasion, those images come flooding back, bringing with them the ability to again create a biochemical reaction -- giving your body a wonderful sense of well-being, even if only temporarily.
Whenever you recall those times, allow yourself to experience them with all your senses, closing your eyes and taking yourself back in your imagination to the events which gave you so much pleasure in the past, letting yourself fully experience those moments. And while you are remembering these past pleasures, you may notice some things you have always associated with those events and others that you had forgotten but which are good for you to remember now.
Recalling past pleasures with mindfulness is not a cure for present problems. But when our lives become filled with stress, we may need to be reminded that all of life has not been difficult -- there have been many good moments along the way. Experiencing them again, with all your senses, allows you to receive added value to something that once gave you pleasure -- and can give you pleasure once again.
- What sweet memory of being with a special friend do you remember today? What makes that so special?
- What is your best memory from a special vacation years ago? Why was that so wonderful?
- If there a time when you were in nature and felt especially serene and at peace, how might reexperiencing that now encourage you to return to nature more often?
- As you remember a love from long ago, how can that make you feel better today—even if the relationship has ended?
- Was there a time when you were filled with purpose and enjoyed being alive simply because you were doing what you knew you were meant to do? If you don’t have that same feeling about life today, what might you change so that you feel a sense of purpose again?
- What was especially good about a moment of triumph in your life that would be good to recall today?