I've spent a portion of this holiday weekend going through old photos, programs and other family memorabilia. Inspired by a speaker I heard earlier this year, I set an "18 for 2018" goal of creating a memory jar for our family. I finally found the perfect vessel - a large rectangular lantern-type glass box that will look great in our family room or living room. We'll fill it with greeting cards, newspaper clippings, and small trinkets to represent the people, places and things that have been an important part of our family history.

It feels nice to look back, doesn't it? We held a surprise 70th birthday party for my mom this spring at my sister's house. We kept it small, inviting only her siblings and their spouses, and it's a good thing we did, as it rained all day and being outdoors was out of the question. My brother-in-law was worried about what everyone would do cooped up inside, and I assured him he didn't need to worry. "Just give them something to eat and a place to sit and they'll entertain themselves with stories from when they were kids. They love to reminisce." And of course, that's exactly what they did. The laughter reverberated throughout the house for hours that night.

Of course, not all memories are good ones. But time heals some wounds, as I've learned from observing others and thinking about my own life. I've found even the cards from when my husband and I went through tough times or when I was suffering from depression help me contemplate where I've been and set intentions about where I'm going. It's valuable to reflect on the past.

Reminiscing contributes to happiness. As described in Psychologies online magazine, "Research indicates that indulging in nostalgic feelings could be good for our psychological well-being. In a 2006 study from the University of Southampton, participants who were the most prone to nostalgic thinking also had the highest scores in happiness and self-esteem. ‘Our research suggests that nostalgia is largely psychologically positive,’ says Professor Clay Routledge of North Dakota State University. Reflecting on our memories can allay anxiety or produce feelings of contentment. Routledge even discovered that indulging in nostalgic thoughts could stave off thoughts about death. Nostalgia could be the great undiscovered asset in our emotional armory."

So go through your old stuff. Share memories with others. Laugh about them. Cry about them. Reminisce.

Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

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