All moments matter. It’s just that some moments are forgotten.
All of us have a film of memories. The scenes of your film may seem a little random when you take inventory of what stuck and what has been left on the editing room floor.
Mine certainly is a random collection.
I can remember moving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming…getting out of the U-Haul, putting on my costume (I was a nurse that year — probably reading Florence Nightingale) and going trick-or-treating in a neighborhood that would now be my home. My parents had packed smart and driven 16 hours with an orange pumpkin on the front seat, ready for it’s once-a-year cameo. That was 38 years ago.
I can remember the first time I spoke in front of 300 people. I had on a cap and gown, and my three friends and I wanted to be anything-but-boring. I can hear the pacing of my voice, feel the low-level nerves and the high-amazement that I had actually met the goal to be standing there. That was 25 years ago.
I can remember the January afternoon when my two month old son fell asleep on John’s chest, where they both napped heart-to-heart. John passed away a few weeks later, but he knew my son, and my son knew him. That was 8 years ago.
How is it that a day has 1440 minutes, but sometimes we don’t remember a single one. Yet, there are days that we remember forever? And, what if…we could do something to help our minutes (our moments) be remembered?
Chip and Dan Heath published a book this year to help us do just that. It’s called The Power of Moments. As they say on page 5, “Our lives are measured in moments, and defining moments are the ones that will endure in our memories. In the pages ahead, we’ll show you how to make more of them.”
They found a pattern in the moments that are memorable. The life-experiences that stick usually do one of four things:
- Elevate us to a new ‘peak’ experience or by ‘breaking the script’ and doing something unexpected and different
- Provide Insight by leading us to find truth unexpectedly or stretching what we believe to make room for new thinking
- Create a sense of Pride through recognition, courage, or multiplication of milestones
- Create Connection through shared meaning or deeper ties
Shortly after I finished this book for the first time, I was planning my son’s birthday party. I decided to experiment to see if there was something I could craft into his moment that would make it memorable for him. Talk about pressure! He was holding the birthday at the karate dojo…where he had held it last year (strike #1 on breaking the script). Maybe, just maybe, we’d get a lift in the ‘Pride’ category, as this was his dojo and the senseis usually had the birthday boy take a leadership role or demonstrate a cool kick or two. In a moment of ‘I-make-moments-happen’ weakness, I splurged for the over-sized Millennium Falcon birthday cake he wanted last year, but I wouldn’t buy. I figured if he wanted it that bad, it might just be a ‘peak’ experience this year.
Who knows if he’ll remember that his 8th birthday was anything different than his 7th. But, I will.
I found the insight that this ‘making moments matter’ gig is hard work.
I decided that I like being aware of the elements that will make a moment stand out for those participating in it (and it’s helpful in my professional career as I seek to lead people to truth rather than serve it up to them). However, when it’s all said and done…I think I like receiving these moments unexpectedly. The most special part of these moments that I remember is that I never expected they’d be so important to me at that particular moment. Their significance came later.
Just thinking about them and writing them down this morning has overwhelmed me with gratitude. I know you can’t see me, but I’ve been crying. Happy tears.
Today, think of three (or ten) moments that have mattered in your life. Write them down if you can — words will give more power and presence to your thoughts and feelings as you recall them.
Then, if you want to know more about moments and what makes them so defining, pick up The Power of Moments at your library or bookstore. It’s a great read full of wonderful stories and moment-ous awareness that will elevate your consciousness and make you more aware of the elements, the aspects and the beauty of the moments in your life.