Collect Memories – Minimal Things and Meaningful Living

Memories begin to be collected around the age of three years, and we continue to collect them throughout our lives.  Our memories mold how we develop, how we think, and who we become as well as how we change.  We’re going to look at how and why we collect memories.

To collect memories is to remember people, places, and events that had an effect on our lives.  There don’t have to be “things” collected with these memories, just feelings and details of the events.  We collect memories of happy events, sad events, and world events to learn and grow.

When do you recall your first memory-how old were you?  How do you remember events in your life?

What Does It Mean to Collect Memories?

To collect memories is to experience an important moment-whether it’s a birthday or anniversary or even just a good day at home-and take mental notes of everything.  It doesn’t have to be a big event or even a momentous occasion.  Sometimes it’s time spent with someone important to you, something that was said, and feelings experienced.  When we collect memories we recall thoughts, feelings, smells, people, places, emotions, even small details like the weather and what we were wearing. 

Woman watching the sunset - Collect Memories - Gone Minimal
Woman watching the sunset

We begin collecting memories and actually being able to recall those memories around the age of 3 years.  It starts with small things like our pets and playing with a certain toy, and can even include childhood injuries.  Why do we collect these types of memories?  Because there was a significant emotion attached to an event or person or thing.  Other reasons we can recall these memories are because of pictures, people, and even the actual toy or item.  But do we really need actual items to collect memories?

What Does It Mean to Collect Memories Not Things?

When we collect memories, they’re thoughts and feelings associated with an event or experience.  There doesn’t have to be any “thing” involved-it’s just memories.  When we keep pictures, mementos, or anything that was involved during or with the event, we’re collecting things with the memories-sometimes to help us remember. 

When we focus on collecting memories and not things, it’s actually one of many characteristics of minimalism-putting focus on life and events versus “stuff”.  For example: you visit a theme park with your family and go on roller coasters, eat funnel cake, watch a show together and you all have a great time-and you skip the gift shop.  Therefore you’ve opted to collect memories and not things. 

Photographs - Collect Memories - Gone Minimal

Not everyone can collect only memories-sometimes items are collected to remember events and places.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your child’s favorite toy after they leave for college, or buying a shot glass to remind you of your favorite trip to the beach, or even buying a DVD of your favorite movie. 

We collect memorabilia to help us remember, to make us smile, and to bring us joy in addition to the memories themselves.  As long as we don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed by the number of collections, it’s not a bad thing to keep these things.

How To Collect Memories

Collecting memories is a beautiful way to preserve and cherish meaningful experiences. The process of collecting memories is personal, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Choose the methods that seems right to you, and make it a regular practice to actively engage in capturing, preserving, and revisiting memories. Here are some suggestions on how to collect memories:

  1. Journaling
  2. Scrapbooking
  3. Photography
  4. Keepsake Box
  5. Reflection meditation

Related Insights:

How Do We Collect Memories?

We collect memories through being present in the moment and taking note of what’s happening.  We can see, smell, and feel certain things, and then we tend to tie emotions to the events.  When we attach an emotion to something, we tend to remember better down to the details of an event.  We can also collect memories through writing.  Diaries, journals, and notes can be kept to help us remember important events and things that have occurred in our lives and even shared with others. 

Journal - Collect Memories - Gone Minimal

Why Do We Collect Memories?

So why do we collect memories?  It depends upon many things.  Let’s look at some different types of memories.

  • Happy Events – Birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, promotions, etc. are positive and joyous occasions.  We collect memories of people, loved ones, and feelings of happiness and joy to reflect upon later when perhaps we’re not feeling so great.  We’re proud of accomplishments, enjoy another year of life, and the arrival of new family members and friends, among many other joyous occasions.  Then we also reflect upon these happy memories when we lose loved ones to relocation or death.
  • Sad Events – Bullying in grade school, physical injuries, housefires, and other negative events are collected because they were big events in our lives-albeit negative-that we overcame and used to grow and learn.  We remember these types of events because we were strong and survived, then lived to tell about it.  They’re also a big part of who we are and where we get our strength and confidence.
Dinner gathering - Collect Memories - Gone Minimal
Dinner gathering
  • Little Things – Your husband holding the door open for you, your sweetheart bringing you lunch at work, the way your dog “smiles” when you get home from school, and the way your partner strokes your hair can be considered the “little things” we like to remember.  These are the practices that have an effect on you, strengthen your relationship, that you value because it’s special even though it might seem insignificant to others.  
  • World Events – JFK assassination, Y2K, 9/11 terrorist attacks, and wars are huge events that affect nations and even the world and result in big changes and loss of life.  We collect memories around not just the event itself-but where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt.  These events may not affect us personally, but they do have an affect on us and our lives. 

There are many reasons to collect these types of memories.  Whether it’s to remember people, events, feelings, and places, or to look back on experiences that were positive or negative, it’s part of being human.  These memories contribute to our growth and development, our habits, our personalities, as well as our outlook on life and how we perceive people.  We learn from our memories, they don’t expire, and they don’t cost a thing.

This super helpful Ted Talk will help you triple your memory in order to collect those special moments.

Who Said Collect Moments Not Things?

Karen Salmansohn, American self-help author is quoted as saying “collect moments not things”.  She’s referring to the collection of memories over the collection of memorabilia or “stuff”.  You’ve got to make room for stuff-you don’t have to make room for moments and memories.

Many people have said “collect moments not things”, and it’s not just for minimalists.  Over time we learn that stuff doesn’t really matter, it’s the moments that are special and important to us.  Memories are much more powerful than a t-shirt.

Important Moments Real People Would Place In A Memory Time Capsule

I asked some family and friends to list 5 important moments in their lives that they would place in a figurative memory time capsule. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

MomentTally of Family/Friends
Birth of children4
High school2
Wedding anniversary2
Favorite concert2
First beach vacation3
Trip overseas3
First cruise2
Favorite pet5
First home3
First love3
First heartbreak2

Other Resources:

Memories are the greatest things we can collect.  With them we remember events, people, loved ones, and how we became the people we are today.  The greatest memories aren’t always the happiest-but they influence our lives and how we lead them.  What’s your first memory and what’s your favorite memory?

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