How Reminiscing and Reconnecting Can Help You Find Your Happy Place
In our fast-paced and dynamic world it is often easy to lose track of the truly joyful times in our lives. While we may consider ourselves to be happy people, ‘happiness’ takes on a whole new meaning when we think back to our childhoods.
While few of us had sitcom-perfect young lives, most were unaware of the struggles that our families may have faced, or the economic and political challenges that affected the adults in our world.
Instead, most of us lived in a world in which colourful ponies, superheroes, and magic existed. We dressed up, let our imaginations run free, and debated the important things, like who was the best: Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman? And who could spin their Hula Hoop the longest, kick a ball the furthest, and pronounce Hogwarts’ spells the best.
But of course, that was years ago, and those simple times are impossible to recapture. Or are they?
As more and more people are working remotely or online, their ability to make ‘real’ (not digital) new friends is challenged. For those who find themselves lonely, isolated, or unsociable, reconnecting with friends from the past is often an excellent way to help rediscover their happy place.
Consult Your Inner Detective
If you have lost touch with your childhood friends and neighbours, there are some easy ways to locate them, including:
- Search for them on social media platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn. You can send a friend or connect request, but it is always a good idea to accompany these with a personal message that explains who you are. It is important though to remember that not everyone feels the same way you do, and may not want to revisit the past.
- If you have the contact details for other friends from this period, ask them if they are still in contact with Friend X, and if they would share those contact details.
- Check on whitepages.com.au to see if there is still a person with that surname at the address you remember. They or their parents may still live there. You can either ring and identify yourself, or send a real letter (!) to the address.
If you manage to make contact, don’t stop with a phone call, text, or Facebook message. Take a leap of faith and arrange an in-person catch up.
The Rest Will Flow
I think you’ll be amazed at how the shared memories will flow, and how easily the laughs will come. You’ll be reminded of other friends whose memories have been pushed to the recesses of your mind, and recall the things you did together, the places you went, even the clothes you wore.
While you may have had a lot in common when you were younger, your paths will have likely taken you in different directions. Learning about these may help you to see the world in a different light – through their eyes. It may also remind you about the person you used to be – to get to know that younger you again.
Stepping back in time this way is bound to bring a smile to your dial, and will likely help to put you in touch with even more friends from those simpler, more carefree days.
Share The Memories
If you have children of your own, share these stories of your childhood with them. Psychologists believe that parents who talk about their young lives with their children enhance the biographical memory skills of those children [https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306049637_The_Benefits_of_Reminiscing_With_Young_Children]. By describing the situations, the key players, and using the language of the time, you encourage them to vocalise their own experiences – a great gift for any parent.
Encourage Your Parents and Grandparents to Reminisce
There are countless articles from psychologists that attest to the benefits to seniors of reminiscing, often termed “life review”. As far back as 1963 psychologists [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6916817] believed that for those older people who had no psychiatric conditions, the potential benefits of reminiscing included:
“the resolution of old conflicts,
personality reorganisation, and
restoration of meaning in the individual’s life.”
You might like to share your childhood memories with your parents and grandparents – I have no doubt they will be interested in your perception of those years, and you’ll probably be surprised that you weren’t as invisible to them as you may have thought.
If you are interested in building your family tree, these reminiscences will not only help these older relatives revisit their ‘happy places’, but they will also provide information that you can store on the Ancestry* platform that would otherwise be lost to time. Their anecdotes will add colour to an otherwise monochromatic family history.
Creating New Memories
The activities and events in which you participate today become the memories and reminiscences of the future. Today could be the right day for you get out there and embrace a new hobby, join a Meetup (http://www.meetup.com) group, or take up a new sport.
So, what are you waiting for?
The Benefits of Reminiscing With Young Children (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306049637_The_Benefits_of_Reminiscing_With_Young_Children [accessed Feb 26 2018].
By Kerry Finch