a workbook for writing your life story

The Sights, Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feelings of Memory

The Sights, Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feelings of Memory

Memory is heavily tied to the senses. When you want to access old memories, the most beneficial action is to trigger your senses to put you back in that memory.

Senses can be triggered in any number of ways, and more than one sense can be triggered in the same event. Try working through some of these questions, and some of these actions, to help you recall old memories.

  • What food did your grandparents eat? If you were around them when they made food, what did it smell like? What did it taste like? Recreate their favorite dishes. What does your experience with this food make you remember?
  • Growing up, what did your house sound like? List all the sounds you can think of that were commonplace in your house. Try to find the sounds on the internet. What do those sounds make you remember?
  • Growing up, what did your house smell like? List all the smells you can think of that wafted in the air. If you can recreate those smells, do so. What events do you remember surrounding those smells? What do they make you think of?
  • What clothes did you wear when you were a teenager? Find images online that look like the clothing you wore. What do you remember about the way they felt and the way they smelled? What do you remember happening in those clothes?
  • What was your address when you were a child, a teen, and a young adult? Find your past homes using Google Earth. Look at the surrounding area. Go back to the addresses if you can. Look around. What’s the most prominent memory you have doing this?
  • What was your favorite candy? Buy it and experience the smell and taste. Think back to the times when you ate it. This can also be done with meals and restaurants.
  • What was your favorite music as a child, teen, and young adult? Listen to it online. What memories come up when you’re listening to that music? Did you go to a concert? If you did, look at the concert venue online. Did anything significant happen at that concert?

These are just some questions to get you started. If you have other ideas to trigger your senses, and therefore your memory, go for it! The aim is to get yourself to experience your memories again so that you can write your life story with the details you lived.