How Can You Feel Better Now by Thinking About the Past?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson says, “Unearth a past moment of positivity, whether from yesterday, last week, or last year. Allow yourself time to roll your mental images around in your mind. Look at them from all angles. Pump them up and drink in their sweetness now, cherishing them once again.” (p. 211)

In other words …

One way we can increase our positive feelings in the present is to dwell on our good feelings from the past. The more we savor the happy times from our past, the more joy and contentment we can find in the here and now.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

Choose one memory that you remember fondly. Recreate it as completely as you can in your mind. What sounds and smells did you experience? Spend time reliving that moment and dwelling on how good you felt.

To find out more …

about personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress programs at, follow us at contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Fredrickson’s book, Positivity.

3 replies on “How Can You Feel Better Now by Thinking About the Past?”

Dear Wally

I see what you are saying and I believe it can work,however my wife who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease says when she thinks of the past good-times it makes her feel sad that she can longer do those things that made her happy.
I think this could apply to many similarly disadvantaged or older people!

Your thoughts please!

Best wishes

Malcolm Mc

Yes, Malcolm, I hear what you are saying here. As I understand it you are saying your wife compares what she feels she had and could do, with now what she feels she lacks. As I see it, you could do the same… you could look at what you felt you had in a wife and what you have now. We can all do this. What I take from Wally’s appreciating what we had challenge is that when sweet memory moments come, relish the opportunity to sit in the sweetness of them and maybe notice when the mind wants to introduce a thought od our lacking, then go back to the deliciousness of the relishing. I am thankful for Wally’s thoughts, as well as yours… very grateful. I have many disabilities and can see how this applies to me and my happiness. I am realizing the wonderful gift everything in life is… the joys and the sorrows, the seemingly lackings and the opportunity to find new sources of strengths. This is a very personal journey, not one others can do for us. My experience is that it is effectively done when focused on our attitudes and loving others where they are.
Thank you again 🙂


What a hard situation! It is true that reflecting on the past can make us sad that those times are lost and unavailable. But we can make a different decision. We can decide that we are grateful for the gifts God has given us. We can choose to cherish every gift AND be grateful for the new opportunities.

Right now as I am “recovering” slowly and painfully from cancer surgery and am unable to do many things, I find that EVERY DAY God sends a new blessing or two to me. I am trying to be mindful and grateful for them rather than fret about the myriad things I can’t do. I even keep a gratitude journal in which I record God’s daily blessings to us. I recommend the practice. God blesses us every day–even though the form of the blessings changes over time.

Blessings to you,

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