Memories are who we are. Our photos and images from the past are treasures allowing us to take a journey in our own mental time machine. The importance of curating images of the past became a personal, precious activity inviting significant contemplation during the holidays. I committed to taking all of my family slides from my father and mother’s travels in the 60’s and 70’s to scan and digitize, ensuring they are preserved meaningfully for the future and gifted to my mother in the form of a book. My ultimate goal was to provide my mother with a stroll down memory lane. Holding each slide up to the light, tediously feeding it into the scanner, cropping it, and enhancing the image uncovered my parent’s past travel and life experiences. Each slide was a jewel to be discovered. It allowed me the experience to see a glimpse into my parent’s past and feel a connection to my mother, who has fondly reminisced about many stories of a bygone era. The experience of compiling, curating, conserving, and celebrating through downloading pictures stored on slide reels strengthened the realization that we all have memories stored in our phones or “the cloud,” but often, they are not organized to create “memory keeper memorabilia.” For many of us, as we are discussing the past and wish to refer to a photo, we find pictures stored in our device similar to a slide reel we would have to spend hours searching through to see. Studies in the Journal of Psychology and Health support that nostalgia builds psychological resilience. Positive nostalgic experiences help protect our reactions to anxiety associated with death, aging, and potential threats. If we commit to coveting our time and memories by organizing them as part of our past, we can easily access them and revisit a treasure trove. Reflecting on these memories opens a window into the greater sense of meaning in our life. We often post photos on social media as a personal treasure and are focused on ensuring others see our life adventures. This public posting can create a library of experiences we can look back on, yet we can also re-frame the meaning behind photos, videos, and images as imperative for our personal well-being. We can hold them in an organized depository to unlock when there is the ability to reminisce and build positive memories and mental resilience.
As we set intentions for the New Year, the best resolution is one that creates lasting joy. Taking the pictures in our life that could possibly be creating a “photo glut” and organizing them into keepsakes makes one’s memories matter. Follow these four simple steps to meaningfully preserve photos taken on your handheld device:
- Every time you have a memory lasting a day or more where pictures were taken, save them to a
file and name the file so you can retrieve those photos easily.
- Choose some of the most cherished photos from the selection and send them to your favorites which is another file that can be easily retrieved.
- Find some “sentimental clutter” in the way of photos and organize them into a file, and use an online program to make a book. If an online program is not accessible or to your liking, print the photos and do some old-fashioned scrapbooking! My favorite online program is Mix book. The more books you make, the more creative you get.
- Give a photo book gift to a special someone in your life. The gift of giving, receiving, and a gift of memory for the creator and the recipient is of lasting importance.
Memories glue the past and the present together to uncover a beautiful tapestry. As we connect with memories, the “happy hormone” oxytocin is jump-started in the body, creating a surge of positive, feel-good emotions. Happy New Year with your memories!