One of my best memories at college was playing Sentinels of the Multiverse with my girlfriend and two friends.
While playing, we banded together as a group of superheroes to fight off the evil Artificial Intelligence Omnitron. I played a blatant plagiarism of Iron Man, Bunker; my girlfriend played a secret silent assassin, the Wraith; my friend Pedro played the Fanatic, and my 50-year-old friend Chris played the Tempest. Working together, we defeated the evil Omnitron.
I remember the feeling of radiant joy among all of my friends.
During the game, Chris made a hilarious duck mating call sound to add a sound effect to their card. Pedro brought a brownie in for me before we started, and I still remember the taste, smell, and warmth of the dark chocolate in my mouth. Afterward, we stayed and talked about each other's shared passion for music and love for film.
It's a college memory I will have for a lifetime.
You likely have deeply cherished memories like this.
It might be from when you were a kid, when you first came to college, or something else.
Most students see special memories like these as things that passively get created over time.
But what if I told you that there are ways you can spot and actively create memories that last a lifetime in college? Considering our lives are in many ways defined by the narrative we see of ourselves, we should be very motivated to learn how to do so. Luckily with an understanding of how memory works, we can not only spot meaningful moments while they are happening but actively create them.
Two of the best books on how to do so are The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath and The Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking.
In The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath explain that we can recognize and actively create defining moments, memorable experiences with meaning. We can do this by trying to add four elements to every experience:
While an experience doesn't need every one of these four things to become a defining moment, the more of these elements it has, the more memorable it will be. The memory I shared earlier has all four of them, which is one of the reasons I will remember it for the rest of my life.
In The Art of Making Memories, Meik Wiking explains that by understanding how memory works, we can cultivate memories that last a lifetime through his acronym MEMO SNAPES.
M - Multisensory
E - Emotional
M - Meaningful
O - Outsource
S - Stories
N - Novel
A - Attention
P - Peaks
E - Ends
S - Struggles
In this article, I will be giving a book summary interpretation of The Power of Moments and The Art of Making Memories on how we can use both of their insights to create memories that last a lifetime in college.
We'll explore this by going into:
- Why Should We Learn To Create Memories That Last A Lifetime?
- The Power of Moments Framework
- The Art of Making Memories Framework MEMO SNAPES
- M - Multisensory
- E - Emotional
- M - Meaningful
- O - Outsource
- S - Stories
- N - Novel
- A - Attention
- P - Peaks
- S - Struggles
- Tips For Creating Memories That Last A Lifetime In College
Make sure to stay until the end because I will share my best tip for creating lifelong memories then!
I. Why Should We Learn To Create Memories That Last A Lifetime?
According to a study done by Meik Wiking in his book The Art of Making Memories, 60% of our most memorable moments are during the ages of 18-30.
But only 20% of our lives occur during then.
The theory is that those 12 years are the time of firsts, making them more memorable. You have your first marriage, second marriage, and first time majorly disappointing your parents when you tell them you will be a philosophy major. First time renting a car, first time hitting somebody with that rental car, first time burying a body after crashing into it with your rental car.
Those 12 years are novelty and adventure central.
But as we age, time starts moving faster.
The world is less novel. We start to solidify our habits, get into a routine, and be less adventurous. Life doesn't excite us like it once did.
Are we doomed to have the most memorable moments of our life be past us by the time we are 31?
That's why learning how to create memories that last a lifetime in college is so important. We can learn to make the most of the best time for memory in our life. But we can also set ourselves up to continue creating defining moments after 30.
Memories pay dividends over the long term, and can make us happier.
You experience something only once.
But you can remember it potentially an infinite number of times. The memories we create of an experience matter more than the experience itself; It's the memories we will remember in the long run.
This highlights a key difference between instant gratification exercises and long-term gratification exercises.
Instant gratification activities like playing video games, eating junk food, or scrolling social media are fun in the moment but often horrible immediately after stopping. However, long-term gratification activities like working out, building a business, reading a book, or creating an incredible memory, can pay dividends over the long term.
That's why in this article, we will be focusing on creating meaningful memories.
It's meaningful memories that pay dividends over the long term compared to possessions.
Nobody on their deathbed says, "They wish they had bought more shit." So why are experiences more enjoyable to have than possessions? We tend to adapt to possessions we acquire but don't adapt the same way to experiences. This is for a few reasons.
- Experiences are a bigger part of your identity than your possessions. They won't leave you as your possessions can. They change you.
- Your experiences connect you more to people. Shared experiences can be reminisced over with the other person for the rest of your life.
- The negative effects of upward social comparison aren't as prevalent for experiences compared to material goods. For example, if you hear someone had a nicer hotel on their vacation and went to a festival and you didn't, you might wish that you had done that on your vacation, but you won't just trade memories. Those are your memories! However, with material goods, we are much more likely to wish we had someone else's possessions which is the driving force behind many people's obsession with climbing the career ladder and making more money.
Finally, we are, in many ways, defined by the narrative we create of ourselves.
So we should be very motivated to learn how to create memories that make for a good narrative.
All of these reasons are why creating memories that last a lifetime are some of the most important things you can do.
II. The Power of Moments Framework
Now that we understand why creating memories that last a lifetime is so important, how can we do so in college?
Let's dive into the four elements of the power of moments framework to find out. The numbers next to each section represent chapters in the book in case you want to get it for yourself.
1 Defining Moments
As said earlier, Chip and Dan Heath define defining moments as memorable experiences packed with meaning.
There are four main aspects that go into what makes a defining moment:
- Elevation: elevation occurs when we heighten sensory experience and break the everyday script.
- Insight: insight occurs when we learn a fundamental truth about ourselves or the world in a short period.
- Pride: pride occurs when we are captured at our best, our moments of achievements or courage.
- Connection: connection occurs when we feel connected with others. Like at a party, graduation ceremony, wedding, etc.
The next question is how we identify the times in which we can experience defining moments or create them.
2 Thinking in Moments
Out of all the times to create or experience a defining moment, there are three obvious choices:
We should mark transitions, commemorate milestones, and fill pits.
By thinking about moments through these three lenses, we can more easily identify opportunities in which to experience defining moments or create them. These three circumstances, as well as some moments that don't fall into these buckets, are what we will dive into for the four elements of defining moments said above.
Moments of Elevation
Moments of elevation occur when we elevate above normal sensory experience and break the script of everyday life.
Aside from recognizing moments of elevation, we can create moments of elevation by:
- Building peaks
- Breaking the script
3 Build Peaks
We tend to remember the peaks of experiences, the end of experiences, and the transitions between experiences.
This big mistake people make is trying to raise the average quality of an experience. The issue with this is we don't remember the average. We remember the peaks, ends, and transitions! Therefore one of the best ways to make for more defining experiences is not by making a whole experience more memorable but by building peaks and ends of an experience.
As Chip and Dan Heath say, create memories that are "Mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable."
But the occasionally remarkable things shouldn't be left to chance.
We can build peaks in three ways:
- Boost sensory appeal
- Raise the stakes
- Break the script
To boost sensory appeal, we can add as many different sensations into an experience as possible. Kinesthetic, auditory, visual, emotional, olfactory, gustatory, spatial, and more. The more senses we encode into an experience and the deeper we encode them, the more they stick in memory.
For example, one of my best memories from college was doing Trivia night while eating at the Mexican restaurant Lunas in Collegetown with one of my Friends.
As we ate, I remember the taste and smell of the savory barbeque sauce and heat from my Bibimpop mushroom pork tacos. The horrible trivia night music and disco lights. And finally, the emotions of joy and excitement from answering trivia questions.
This combination of sensations made the memory incredibly sticky in my mind.
Secondly, we can raise the stakes.
The easiest way to do this is by turning an experience into a game. For example, turning a slide social night at college into a game by giving whoever makes the best slide show homemade baked cookies. Spoiler alert, I didn't get to eat the cookies.
Gamifying the experiences raises the stakes and makes for a defining moment.
Third and finally, we can break the script.
This leads us to the next chapter on creating moments of elevation.
4 Break the Script
Scripts are defined ways things typically go in life, similar to schemas.
We have a script for restaurant visits, family dinners, tests in school, etc. Our brain has evolved to create scripts because they simplify the world and make it easier to act in. However, scripts are the antithesis of defining moments, as familiarity and memory are at odds.
As Chip and Dan Heath say, "We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they're not."
Moments of elevation often break the script.
One of the best ways to do this is to add randomness to an experience. Randomness, by its nature, breaks scripts. However, breaking the script requires meaning to be remembered. Jump scares are surprising but aren't meaningful, so we don't remember them.
Breaking the script should combine surprise and meaning.
Elevation combined with meaning makes an experience a defining moment rather than simply a stimulating one in the moment.
Another great way to break the script is to do something new. Our brain tends to remember novel things, which going back to earlier, is why our 18s to 30s are so memorable. So try out a new restaurant, weird class, activity, or somewhere new.
By breaking the script meaningfully through randomness or novelty, we can create more defining moments through elevation.
Moments of Insight
Moments of insight occur when we learn a fundamental truth about ourselves, others, or the world.
Moments of insight happen in two ways:
- Tripping over the truth
- Stretching for insight
5 Trip Over the Truth
Tripping over the truth means viscerally realizing something about yourself, someone else, or the world in a short moment of time.
There are three contributors to what makes you trip over the truth:
- There is a clear insight
- It's compressed in a short moment
- You come to the realization yourself
For example, I remember the day of my AP world history exam. I walked up to my friend Ben standing outside of the test-taking room and said proudly, "How many times did you read the textbook? I read it three times."
Ben looked at me with a gleeful expression, "I read it four times."
We both believed passively reading the textbook was a good studying technique because, well, for most of high school, you can get by with it. But then I saw one video by Ali Abdaal about how to study effectively as a medical student, and my whole philosophy about studying came crashing down. He explained that using these studying techniques seems productive in the moment but wastes hundreds of hours of time over the long run because you simply never remember or understand anything you studied years later.
I tripped over the truth.
By coming face to face with a clear problem in a short amount of time and coming to the realization myself, I started to make steps to study more actively and believe I have a much more effective studying strategy today.
6 Stretch for Insight
Stretching for insight requires putting yourself in situations where you are likely to fail.
This leads to insight because often, failure is better for feedback than success. Plus, when we stretch for insight, we learn through action.
Doing is more important than thinking for insight.
When we do, we fail; when we fail, we find gaps in where to improve.
How can we stretch for failure?
One of the best ways is by cultivating a Growth mindset.
The growth mindset was first defined by researcher Carol Dweck in her 2006 book, Mindset.
In it, she explains people with a growth mindset believe their skills and intelligence can be improved through hard work and overcoming failure. People with a growth mindset see the brain as a muscle that grows stronger and smarter with rigorous learning experiences. People with a fixed mindset, however, believe their skills are fixed and therefore shudder from failure and challenge.
If you have a fixed mindset, you are doomed. You should give up.
I'm just kidding.
Fortunately, we can ingrain a growth mindset even if we start with a fixed mindset in an activity.
So how can we cultivate a growth mindset?
The first step comes with realizing what the growth mindset is in the first place and ingraining it into your very being.
In every activity you attend, think about how you can frame it to fit the growth mindset. For example, instead of framing an exam as an anxiety-building annoyance, frame it as a test of your skills. One of my favorite frames is to frame activities like a game. In games, we naturally challenge ourselves because we intuitively understand failure is part of the process.
By framing activities as learning experiences, you can motivate yourself to pursue challenges even in the face of failure.
The second step comes with challenging yourself. We generally learn more from failure than from success, so challenging yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone is a fantastic way to learn. For your next essay, try writing in a different style than you usually would; for your next reading assignment, try summarizing the passage in your head afterward. Or for your next exam, try doing it blindfolded... Because that would certainly be challenging.
Okay, maybe not that last one, but challenging yourself in these ways is bound to lead to failure, leading to more growth.
By cultivating a growth mindset and stepping out of our comfort zones, we open ourselves to more defining moments through insight.
Moments of Pride
Moments of pride occur when we capture ourselves at our best moments, moments of achievement and courage.
7 Recognize Others
The easiest way to create moments of pride for others is simply by recognizing their efforts.
Most people want to be appreciated for their work. But we often fail to give that appreciation because we are all so in our heads. One of the best habits I have built to do this more often is to spend procrastinating time going through my contacts and messaging people things I appreciate about them. Try to do this at least once a day.
You won't believe how much people appreciate it.
The few minutes taken out of your day can put them in a good mood for a whole day and spark a connection.
In addition, write handwritten notecards to others. In the digital age, texting and email are the dominant communication forms. But these methods are way too easy and thoughtless. Handwriting a note and mailing it has a magic that no digital communication could ever capture.
Every time you recognize others like this, it's an opportunity for them to feel defining moments through pride.
8 Multiply Milestones
Milestones are natural points through which to create a defining moment of pride.
The problem is most milestones in life--birthdays, new years, etc.--are infrequent. So we must create them ourselves. One of the best insights we can take on multiplying milestones is from games. Games naturally create milestones while pursuing goals by separating things into levels, awarding experience, and more.
Games are so motivating because they multiply the milestones we reach.
But we can do the same by creating artificial milestones for our and others' goals.
Another way I love multiplying milestones is by creating the greatest memory notes for my relationships.
I dig through the last six months or a year of journal entries, photos, and any other memento I have for a person. Then I compile my favorites ordered by time and send them to them. It's an encapsulation of my journey with someone.
The reaction is incredible.
I have had friends cry over sending them these. I strongly recommend you make one with a relationship that matters to you after reading this. It will change your life.
By multiplying the milestones towards our goals and in our relationships, we create more opportunities for defining moments.
9 Practice Courage
Another natural point to feel pride is practicing courage and doing the right thing in difficult circumstances.
We don't have to be fearless to be courageous. If we felt no fear, we wouldn't be. As Mark Twain said, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear."
How can we do the right thing when it's hard?
The secret is in premeditating our responses.
For example, the simple act of writing down an implementation intention--I will do X at time Y in Z place--makes it way more likely we will do that thing when the time comes. In addition, thinking about how we will act ethically in a difficult situation beforehand makes it much more likely we will act that way when the time comes. It's easy to rationalize bad behavior at the moment if we haven't premeditated how we want to act.
Through premeditation, we can virtuously even when it's hard.
This reminds me of the Stoic tenet of premeditating talked about in the book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson. Marcus Aurelius, like many of the other Stoics, would imagine misfortune before it happens. For example, imagine what would happen if your greatest lover got diagnosed with stage four cancer. Or what you would do if your bank account was robbed.
This practice helped prepare the Stoics psychologically for if that thing did happen.
You can do the same as a student by premeditating how you would act if you got into a difficult argument with a friend. Or if you got a bad exam score back. Or if a friend came to you looking for support.
By practicing courage through premeditating adversity before a difficult situation, we are vastly more likely to act virtuously during that situation.
Moments of Connection
Moments of connection are defining moments created through connection with others.
10 Create Shared Meaning
We can feel a moment of connection by creating shared meaning with a person or group.
In the last section, we learned how pride can make for a defining moment. Connection is essentially pride but with others. The best way we can create shared meaning is through creating a synchronized moment, inviting people to a shared struggle, and creating shared meaning from that struggle.
These three things make the group feel pride.
Firstly, similar to tripping over the truth, we can better create shared meaning when there is a synchronized moment between two or more people.
Secondly, we need to get people to join a shared struggle. How do we get group members to want to struggle toward a shared goal? Three ways:
- The work means something to them
- They have autonomy
- It's their choice to participate or not
Work will only mean something to someone if they have a clear purpose for why they are doing it.
So all group members must clearly know how their activity contributes to something greater than themselves, how it contributes to a purpose. Think of the number of group projects you have had at college or high school that have felt horrible because nobody knows why they are doing what they are doing.
In addition, people are more willing to endure shared struggle when they have autonomy over their work.
According to Drive by Daniel H. Pink, Autonomy makes up four things: having control over the work task, the time you do it, the technique you do it, and the team with who you do it. Having these four things inside of a group activity fosters intrinsic motivation, motivation to do something because it emanates from the self.
This makes it much more likely someone will join a shared struggle.
If you would like to learn more about fostering intrinsic motivation in college, check out my article, Seven Powerful Tips For Cultivating Intrinsic Motivation In College-From Burnout to Bliss.
Third and finally, shared meaning must be made out of the struggle.
So think about how you could create shared meaning out of a struggle at college. Perhaps in a group project? Or on a board game night with friends. Or for a dinner party.
By creating a synchronized moment, inviting people to a shared struggle, and creating meaning, we can experience and create more defining moments of connection.
11 Deepen Ties
The last way we can feel experience and create more moments of connection is through deepening ties.
Deepening ties involves fostering intimacy, commitment, and responsiveness inside a relationship. Relationships that any of these things are doomed to be surface-level or temporary.
Now I'm going to ask you a really difficult question.
Do you have relationships at college or situation-ships?
If you don't love the character of people you have relationships with enough to continue to contact them after you leave college, you are in a situationship.
Situationships aren't necessarily a bad thing. But if all your relationships are made up of them, it's a problem. To get out of situations and create defining moments of connection, you have to deepen ties.
This involves learning more about the people you surround yourself with at college.
Learn, understand, and respect their goals, values, faults, and strengths, even if you disagree with them. Make efforts to see them consistently and in novel environments. The more contexts you see them in the more you learn about them. Finally, be vulnerable. Share faults and failures of your own. Psychologists have shown this leads to the Beautiful mess effect, which describes how, ironically, it's exposing our vulnerabilities to others that often creates deeper connections than talking about our successes.
If you would like to learn more about what makes for a deep friendship and how to create them, check out my video, Aidan's Infinite Play 31 Beyond Likes And Follows How To Create Deep Friendships In College To Combat Loneliness.
By deepening ties with your relationships at college, you open yourself up to more defining moments through connection.
III. The Art Of Making Memories: How To Create Memories That Last A Lifetime Using MEMO SNAPS
Now that we have gone through the four-part framework for creating defining moments from The Power of Moments, let's move on to the Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking.
Wiking summarizes how we can make memories that last a lifetime using the acronym MEMO SNAPS.
M - Multisensory
E - Emotional
M - Meaningful
O - Outsource
S - Stories
N - Novel
A - Attention
P - Peaks
E - Ends
S - Struggles
Let's go through each.
When remembering things, we also remember the sounds, tastes, sights, touches, smells, and more of the experience.
Sensations are a powerful aspect of our memories. A sip of hot chamomile tea brings me straight back to my childhood reading next to the fireplace in my parent's house. Music is particularly powerful on this sensation dimension. The Taylor Swift song Enchanted takes me back to magical nights spent with my first girlfriend at Cornell. Therefore Wiking recommends that for things we want to remember, we try and make them as multisensory as possible. The best triggers are those that associate with only one memory. This way, every time you get that specific cue, you remember that experience.
The smell of coffee is much less likely to transport you back to an experience than the smell of seaweed, I mean unless you eat a crap load of seaweed in which case, good for you, live your best life!
In addition, for a real memory sensation cocktail, try and make an experience as vibrant, surprising, and colorful as possible.
Of course, take this advice with a grain of salt. Don't go throwing fairy dust at everyone you come across. That's rude.
But the more an experience explodes with sensation, especially novel ones, the more it will stick in memory.
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget what you made them feel.
This is because humans have an incredible memory of emotions. Our emotional memory is stored in the amygdala, whereas our semantic memory, our memory for language, concepts, and general facts about the world, is stored in the hippocampus. In other words, we have an entire other place for storing memories just related to emotions. Humans have a Negativity dominance when it comes to remembering information because negative things are more likely to kill us.
Luckily we can use this fact to our advantage by utilizing what Meik Wiking calls the Emotional Highlighter Pen.
The emotional highlighter pen involves connecting with loved ones when we have particularly good or bad days.
By showing our vulnerability in our highs and lows, we open ourselves up to deeper memories by fostering a connection with those we love most.
Another way we can use our emotions to foster memories is by leaning into things which scare us. Stepping out of our comfort zone. Meik Wiking uses the ten-year test to get himself to do things he wouldn't normally do. He asks his future self in ten years if he would have wanted his present self to do this thing. If the answer is yes, he does it.
By doing the ten-year test, he is able to convince his present self to overcome fear and step out of his comfort zone to create more memories by adding emotion.
Usually, we don't just remember any moments; we remember moments with meaning.
There is a LARGE difference between something surprising and something surprising AND meaningful. Jump scares don't stick in memory. They aren't meaningful. But a surprise birthday does.
To make an experience meaningful, we can take from the insights discussed earlier with the Power of Moments by combining elevation with insight, pride, or connection.
One of the best ways to help foster your memory is counterintuitively to create mementos that remind you of your best memories.
We all do this to some extent. We take photos when we want to capture the moment, buy tourist items while traveling, and more. But Meik Wiking believes we should actively try to go even further. Create physical photo books, pictures of the every day, drawings that remind you of events, and more. Journal, but add the senses you felt during an experience; they will teleport you back to that memory year later. Get creative with the mementos you buy or create!
Your future self will find them invaluable, reflecting on them years later.
Storytelling is a universal human language.
This is what makes them so powerful for creating and fostering memories. Everyone intuitively understands the structure of a story. Every time we tell a story, at a family dinner, to a friend, or someone else, we fight against the forgetting curve; we solidify that story in our minds and connect with those we tell the story to.
In effect, stories solidify our memories and connect us to others.
They also change the way we see the world.
Every time we tell a story, it shapes the way we and others remember those events. Our memories literally change every time we recall something. In effect, Our memories of the past are inaccurate. This can lead to things like the Mandela effect, where many people have a false memory about something.
But altering memories through storytelling isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The stories we tell and how we tell them change how we see the world because they alter our memories. Our memories form the foundation for perceiving the present and imagining the future. We are, in large part, the stories we tell ourselves.
So, by purposefully telling stories in an optimistic light and biasing towards happy stories, we can foster a healthier narrative of our lives.
Observing something isn't the same as genuinely seeing it.
You have probably walked by a staircase on your college campus hundreds of times but have no idea how many steps there are in it. This describes the difference between observing and investing attention in something. If you want to create memories that last a lifetime, you have to invest attention.
Investing focused attention is your way of telling your brain, "Hey! This is important; remember this."
That means you should put your phone away. One of the things that drives me mad at college is when I'm talking to someone, and they start going on their phone while speaking to me. They aren't giving me their full attention. Putting your phone away forces you to pay more attention to everything you were taking for granted beforehand.
But this tip goes beyond just putting your phone away.
Investing attention requires active, purposeful, constant effort to remain in the present.
So much of the day, our mind riddles us with intrusive thoughts. Did I study enough for that exam? When's my next homework assignment? Oh crap, my essay's due tonight!
These thoughts make it hard to focus on the present moment and create memories.
One of the best books I have read on how to calm the storm inside our heads and temper these intrusive thoughts is The Victorious Mind. This book explores how a combination of meditation, breathing techniques, journaling, personalizing health, and memory techniques can help us calm the storm inside of our minds. You can check out my book summary of it right here.
In effect, we can more easily invest attention in the present moment and create memories that last a lifetime.
We remember novel things.
This can include novelty in people, senses, activities, anything. In fact, as said earlier in The Power of Moments, researchers Dan Heath and Chip Heath reveal that 60% of our most memorable moments are had between the ages of 18-30. The theory is it's when we do the most firsts in our lives.
Understanding this principle we should create more memories by doing more novel things and breaking out of our routines.
I'm implementing this fact by seeing my friends in more novel environments. While my wallet takes a hit, I purposefully try and get lunch in different restaurants instead of always seeing them at the dining hall. I notice I remember the experience much better later on.
Another effect that helps explain this is the von Restorff effect, which describes how we remember the things that stick out.
Think about going along the highway and feeling an irresistible urge to veer your head at a car accident. Wiking recommends you take advantage of this by bringing a pineapple with you when you give speeches. If there are many speeches, you could easily be forgotten.
But not if you have a pineapple; that's novel.
Now you become the person that gave a speech with a pineapple.
The power of memory, my friends.
Peaks, Ends, and Struggles:
If you made it this far, you deserve to hear my best tip for creating memories that last a lifetime.
This is probably the single highest leverage tip from the whole video.
We remember the peaks, ends, and struggles of an experience.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to create memories is they heighten the average of an experience or increase the time duration of the experience. For example, they'll book a resort for two weeks instead of one, thinking that will automatically make it better. Instead of getting one dessert, they will get two of the same.
But this neglects the fact that we don't remember a whole experience.
We remember things in snapshots, often the peaks and ends of an experience.
So one of the best ways to make for more defining experiences is not by making a whole experience more memorable but by elevating the peak and end, as that's what people will remember anyway!
One great way to do this in the age of instant gratification and impatience is by adding struggle into an experience. Adding struggle naturally heightens the peak and end because there is more of a journey to getting the positive reward.
It's much more memorable to arrive at the top of Machu Pichu after a long hard hike than to arrive after a five-minute helicopter ride.
This is probably the highest leverage tip I took from my research. It completely changed the way I go around creating memories.
Now you know the secret too!
IIII. Tips For Creating Memories That Last a Lifetime In College
Now that we have gone through the four-part framework for creating defining moments from The Power of Moments and MEMO SNAPES from The Art of Making Memory, let's summarize by discussing some tips for creating memories that last a lifetime in college.
- Think in terms of transitions, milestones, and pits to find places to create defining moments.
- Create moments of elevation. Build the peaks of experiences by adding many different senses to an experience, raising the stakes, and breaking the script meaningfully by adding randomness or novelty.
- Create moments of insight. Trip over the truth by creating a clear insight, compressed in time, that you or someone else comes to themselves. Stretch for insight by cultivating a growth mindset and stepping out of your comfort zone.
- Create moments of pride. Recognize others through text, in-person, or handwritten notes. Gamify your goals by creating smaller artificial milestones. Practice courage by premeditating adversity and using implementation intentions so you do the right thing in difficult moments.
- Create moments of connection. Create shared meaning with a person or group by synchronizing a moment, inviting people to a shared struggle, and creating shared meaning from that struggle. Deepen ties by learning, understanding, and respecting the goals, values, faults, and strengths of your relationships as well as being vulnerable yourself.
- Make experiences multisensory. We remember things through association. The more novel senses you can mix into an experience, the more sticky it will be in memory.
- Make experiences emotional. We remember emotionally valent events particularly well.
- Make an experience meaningful. Surprise alone won't make us remember something. It has to mean enough to us that we will want to remember the experience later on.
- Create mementos that remind you of an experience. Journaling, photo books, etc., will all serve as helpful memory aids for when you want to remember something. With mementos, find ways to add multiple senses to them. For example, while journaling, add what an experience smelled like, tasted like, felt like, looked like, and more.
- Create something into a story. Humans have evolved to remember things in stories. When we tell stories, we fight the forgetting curve and create a healthier narrative of our lives.
- Focus attention. You can only create memories if you are truly attentive to what is happening around you. This requires incredible presence and focus.
- Focus on the peaks, ends, and struggles of an experience. It's much more effective than making the average of an experience better.
A central idea of this article is memories are a key part of what makes life enjoyable.
Meaningful memories bring us more joy and fulfillment than possessions. They can pay dividends in the long run. They allow us to share powerful moments with others.
We are in many ways defined by the memories we create.
But as we know, without intervention, most of our most important memories naturally occur between the ages of 18-30.
If we want to make our lives and those around us more enjoyable and fulfilling, we need to not only recognize more of the defining moments happening naturally throughout our days but take active steps to create them as well. After reading this article, you now know not only how to recognize defining moments but also how to create them for yourself.
You know how to create memories that last a lifetime in college rather than hope they come to you passively.
Here's what I would like to share this week.
📸News From The Channel!
📺Latest On De YouTube - 5 Simple Methods For Growing Your Concept Notes In Obsidian: In this video, I will discuss when to grow your concept notes inside of Obsidian and the methods for doing so. These include growing small sets of notes, freewriting, using the four G's of note-making, the idea compass, summarizing, and growing notes on a larger scale when zooming out to create MOCs.
🎙️Latest On De Podcast - E18 Joey Cofone: How To Unlock Your Inner Creativity Using Your Interests: Joey Cofone is the Founder & CEO of Baronfig, an award-winning designer and entrepreneur, and the author of #1 bestselling The Laws of Creativity. He has designed and art-directed over 100 products from zero to launch. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, Newsweek, Bon Appétit, Quartz, Mashable, Print, and more. In this podcast, you will learn:
- The power of niching for creativity
- The biggest mistake people make regarding creativity
- Why discipline isn't always good for creativity
💡My Best Insights:
📖Book - The Way of the Superior Man: This book argues for a new kind of relationship amidst the sexual revolution. One in which there is a polarization between masculine and feminine energies between partners that creates a balance. It argues that men and women are fundamentally different, and rather than trying to get rid of these differences, we should embrace them. It's a fascinating book because it questions so many gender norms of the modern era and makes you analyze your own relationship. While I have many problems with the book, there are some nuggets of insight I think many people could take away.
🎙️Podcast - Grinding: One of the most perplexing questions regarding games is why people are willing to grind inside of them. Grinding means doing the same thing repeatedly with little variance to progress in the game. You would think you would be so boring no gamer would ever subject themselves to the torture. And yet some gamers spend hundreds of hours grinding in video games to get a virtual item. One of the biggest theories for why gamers grind is Self-Determination Theory, which states that people have a fundamental need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Games provide all three of these things in abundance, even while grinding. In addition, Games have a tighter feedback system than real life, Games have more epic goals than real life, and Games have clearer goals and rules than real life.
📺YouTube Video - The Best Relationship Advice No One Tells You: Love doesn’t conquer all. We constantly get told that love is the solution to our problems through Disney, pop culture, and more. But love doesn't solve problems; it can sometimes amplify them. You can love many people throughout your life, but getting back your dignity or self-respect is very hard. Once the initial romantic infatuation stage goes by, the friendship underlying a relationship is what keeps you in a healthy relationship with your partner. You must be in the relationship out of trust, values, and commitment rather than just the feeling of love. The feeling of love is temporary. The act of love is everlasting. Sometimes you won't feel love toward your partner. You must show love nonetheless.
- A personal essay targeted towards college students in the realm of gamification, relationship psychology, or Obsidian Personal Knowledge Management
- A curated list of everything that has come out on my content channels
- A curated list of my coolest learnings over the past week
In addition, consider checking out my digital notetaking course Obsidian University to help students like you build a notetaking system that compounds your school learning across semesters.