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The power of memory

August 1, 2018

Memory is the processing system in our brain that allows us to encode, store and retrieve information.

Your memory system is powerful, but it is not perfect – we can’t remember all the information that we get all the time. But we can help our memory to remember. This is why we use tools like to-do lists for things we want to remember to do in the future. But we can also help our memory to remember past moments. Why is this important? It’s simple: when you remember a moment, you brain reactivates the areas involved while you experienced that moment, so the content of that memory is represented across the brain (Chadwick, Hassabis, Weiskopf & Maguire, 2010). Basically, to remember, your brain makes you relive that moment. So for a happy moment, you get to re-experience your happiness. At hiMoment, we focus on autobiographical (also called episodic) memories, in other words, the memories that are personal and unique to you.

hiMoment harnesses the power of your personal memories to boost your happiness.

Bryant, Smart and King (2005) had students reminisce twice daily for a week about positive memories and found this walk down memory lane lead to increases in reported happiness over the course of the week. In another study, people had to replay happy memories in their minds for only eight minutes per day for three days and found that even four weeks later people showed a sustained increase in positive emotions (Lyubomirsky et al., 2006). While these studies are interesting, having to write down a few memories seems very limited and effortful. How many happy memories could you write down just from memory, without looking through your calendar, social media or asking friends?

At hiMoment we believe it is time to take advantage of the digital age we live in, and use the smart phones in our pocket to help us remember the happy moments better.

  • Chadwick, M. J., Hassabis, D., Weiskopf, N. & Maguire, E. A. (2010) Decoding Individual Episodic Memory Traces in the Human Hippocampus. Curr. Biol. 20, 544–547.
  • Bryant, F.B., Smart, C.M. & King, S.P. (2005) Using the Past to Enhance the Present: Boosting Happiness Through Positive Reminiscence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 227-260.
  • Lyubomirsky, S., Sousa, L. & Dickerhoof, R. (2006) The costs and benefits of writing, talking, and thinking about life’s triumphs and defeats. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(4), 692-708.