Word #3 for a Happy Approach to Life: How to Harness the Power of Memory


What makes some people happier than others? Research says memory recall.

Memory is the third word of Dr. Diener’s Attention, Interpretation and Memory (AIM) model for a happy approach to life. In this post, you’ll learn how to harness the power of your memory for an even happier life.

Research shows it works.

From: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

There is a growing body of research showing how memory biases can actually work in our favor where happiness is concerned.

The way happy people recall memories is one characteristic that separates them from unhappy people.

Researchers found that happy folks were no different from others in the amount of positive and negative events they experienced. Where the upbeat participants differed was in how they recalled events. Happy folks had the tendency to err on the positive side, even treating adversity with humor or mentally emphasizing personal recent progress rather than focusing on problems.

The challenge is that our memories are not as accurate as we might think!

From: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

As it turns out, research shows that memory is not an exact match of events, but reconstructs events rather than duplicates them.

The good news is that we can willingly reconstruct them. And it is our reconstruction of memories that can make us happier. Here’s TWO happiness booster methods based on memory.


Memory Recall Mood Booster

Our moods affect our memories and our memories affect our moods.

In a phenomenon called “state-dependent memory,” good moods bring to mind good memories, and bad moods bring to mind unpleasant memories.

Here’s how to use our memories to positively boost our mood.

From: Psychological Foundations for Success

Spend 10-15 minutes thinking happy thoughts. Accentuate the positive. Mentally relive your successes and triumphs. Recall times when you have felt particularly loved and connected with others. Research shows that, after thinking about happy events for just 12 minutes, people are more focused on past successes, feel better about themselves and have higher expectations about what they can accomplish in the future.

A bit skeptical at first, I tested this out for several weeks. I tried to remember fun moments that made me feel happy. Times when I was a kid, riding my first bike, playing on the beach, laughing with my friends, and meeting my wife. It worked great, got me going in the morning and helped me realize the power of memory recall for positive purposes.

I found that just like research shows how asking ourselves a simple question can give us a happiness upgrade, mentally reliving some successes and good times can boost your mood in no time…in fact, in less than 15 mins!

Interestingly, just as the pendulum can swing towards happiness, it can go the other way if we start thinking about the negative events too. Be aware. This is the best time to reconstruct and recall those mood boosting memories.

“Savoring” – A Happiness Mood Booster

Psychologists have begun studying “savoring,” the process of active enjoyment of the present, and of using active appreciation to enjoy a past success.

What’s the key to effective savoring?

From: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

Focused attention. Taking mental snapshots of the good happening now, for future recall.

Happier people have a bank of stored good memories, sort of like a mental photo album of good stuff.

By taking time and spending effort to appreciate the positive, people are able to experience more well-being. This research suggests that positive people have developed the habit of taking a mental snapshot of good moments and successes as they happen.

In short, the more we “savor” moments we have today, the easier it is to access them in the future. And that is how we can harness the power of memory for a happy approach to life!


  1. Memory is the third word of Dr. Diener’s (AIM) model for a happy approach to life.
  2. The memory recall mood booster gives us a temporary happy boost by connecting us with past triumphs and moments we felt loved and supported.
  3. “Savoring” positive moments by paying close attention to the details of good stuff happening now makes it easy to recall them later. “Savoring” bumps up our long-term well-being.

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Related Articles:

3 Words for a Happy Approach to Life: How to Harness Their Power 

Word #2 for a Happy Approach to Life: How to Harness the Power of Interpretation

The Simple Question to Ask Yourself For a Happiness Upgrade – Backed By Research

About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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