“Marking Moments” Might Become Your New Favorite Pastime

“Marking Moments” Might Become Your New Favorite Pastime

My best friend and I were talking recently about the days when, as bartenders, our schedule consisted of working, drinking and sleeping on repeat. Often I would come to work on a Monday and a regular would ask, “What’d you get up to this weekend?”

And I would pause and think:

Huh, what DID I do this weekend? 

before stumbling through a mostly fabricated response to hide my apparent drinking problem.

My bestie had the same experience.

Looking back, we both concluded:

Yuck, what a way to live.

Alcoholism notwithstanding, we both remember little of significance from a decade or more of our lives. I remember having fun, so that’s a plus. But the sights, sounds, tastes and textures of those experiences?


Even if you can’t relate to the drinking part (and I hope you can’t), you may still be able to relate to the “What did I do this weekend?” sensation. When we pollute our experiences with excessive distraction and stimulation, it hampers our ability to slow time, to record, or “mark,” our memories, and to truly appreciate life.

Real talk: We’re all distracted. It has become our natural state of being – the new normal. Not being distracted seems to require weirdo tactics like months-long Himalayan cave sabbaticals and cold-turkey digital detoxes, and few of us are signing up for that.

Because of this, there’s an increasing need for personal rituals or practices that enable us to mark our moments – to create a mental scrapbook, if you will, so we can refer to it in our twilight years.

Furthermore, pausing to savor the moment has the added benefit of providing sanity amidst the chaos. It plugs us into something real, rather than into our regrets about the past or worries about the future.

The best part is, there are no prerequisites for living in the moment. I love to sing the praises of meditation for training the mind to “be here now,” but even if you’d rather eat scorpions on toast points than meditate, these tips will work for you.

Make it your mission to do these things every day.

Savor Something Delicious

Allow the ecstasy of a great bite of food to transport you to an altered state. In Italy, savoring meals and dawdling over courses is a means of celebrating life and carving out moments of sensory pleasure. In my experience, the food served at these meals tastes better. I believe it’s because I’m partaking in the ritual of marking the moment, guided by the culture that invented la dolce vita.

You, too, can embrace the good life and keep exotic or luxurious foods on hand. Couture cocoa, a fine port or a bottle of bubbly that you open just because it’s Tuesday. A triple creme brie that you nibble while you sip Sauvignon Blanc on the veranda. Oreos dipped into a frosty mug of milk.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just mouthwatering enough to demand a time-out.

And taste needn’t be the only sense involved. Smell and memory are closely linked because of the brain’s anatomy. Aromas reach the region of the brain that processes emotion – the amygdala – before they reach the thinking, rational part. In other words, when you smell something, you process an emotion before you process a thought. Scent-oriented memories are exceptional in that they can trigger deep nostalgia, and make you feel all the feels.

I have marked many happy moments with scents. Jasmine reminds me of my hometown in spring. The smell of mulling spices brings back cozy Christmas memories. Polo cologne makes me think of my father. And to this day, I love the smell of kerosene because it reminds me of my favorite human of all time – my grandpa – and his rock saws.

Pause to Notice Beauty

In 2007, The Washington Post did an experiment. World-famous violinist, Joshua Bell, armed with his $3.5 million Stradivari violin, was positioned in a DC subway stop during morning rush hour. He looked like a street performer. Over the course of the 43 minutes he played, 1,097 people hurried past, few even turning to look. Only seven people stopped.

Three days before the experiment, Bell had filled the house at Boston’s Symphony Hall, where “pretty good” seats went for $100.

In this article, the author describes watching video footage of the scene in time-lapse:

“Even at this accelerated pace, the fiddler’s movements remain fluid and graceful; he seems so apart from his audience – unseen, unheard, otherworldly – that you find yourself thinking that he’s not really there. A ghost.

Only then do you see it: he is the one who is real. They are the ghosts.”

So . . . moment of truth, friends: do you make time for beauty? Would you have stopped during your busy commute to listen to a virtuoso? Would you have even noticed?

It sounds deceptively simple to suggest that someone stop and smell the roses. But the capacity and patience to notice – and cherish – your surroundings are increasingly rare qualities. And yet, improving your ability to enjoy beauty is critical to living a fulfilling life. I’d even argue that in a culture that sensationalizes everything going wrong in the world, it’s character-building to appreciate life when life is worth appreciating.

Think about this when your kid plays her first soccer game. First, put down the smartphone, even if you’re only using it to videotape the match. Second, mark the feeling of the sun on your shoulders, smell those half-time orange slices, soak in the cheers of the other spectators and the glee on the face of your daughter when her team scores its first goal.

Or sit on the patio and ponder the Jacaranda tree in your yard, while the warm spring breeze drips a carpet of dazzling purple blooms on the freshly mowed grass. Pause and notice when sight, scent and touch come together to create a beautiful moment worth marking.

Laugh Often

“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”

~Henry Ward Beecher

Ain’t that the truth? Society has devolved into a state of fragility where everyone is “jolted by pebbles” from sun up to sundown. So many clashes could be soothed if we could cultivate more humor in our lives.

As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent.

But why?

Laughter boosts the immune system, burns calories and releases endorphins that can ease pain. It shuts down negativity, helps you release inhibitions, and studies show it may help you live longer.

So consider it “taking your meds” when you watch your favorite comedian do stand-up or join a game night with your friends. Or how about the next time you need to kick start a conversation in a non-creepy way, simply asking, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this week?”

Ritualize Pleasure

Reading that subheading you might, like me, picture hedonism of the Ancient Roman variety. This brings up an important point about pursuing pleasure as a daily function. A constant stream of indulging oneself leads to what’s known as the hedonic treadmill. When treats become habitual – meaning you have constant access to them – they cease to be enjoyable.

See also: Why you need more and more of a drug over time to get high.

You can forgo orgies and vomitorium-necessitating gluttony and still do one beautiful, funny and delicious* thing each day. Just mark the moment. Mark it with crayons or journal entries or tears, but be sure to mark it.

Truly vibrant people maintain balance and positivity by soaking in their passions and pleasures, every day, like clockwork. They have made “beautiful, funny, delicious” a daily ritual, like taking tea, not only because they like to seize the day but because they recognize doing so makes them more fun in general.

And this means other people benefit too.

Redefine Wealth

It’s safe to say we would all define a wealthy person as someone who makes X millions of dollars. X can be any number.

But we should redefine wealth as a state acquired by the number of beautiful moments you observe daily, how much time you reserve for family and loved ones, how often you walk barefoot in the sand or search for constellations in the sky.

Our inner landscape is where peace and fulfillment reside. And one of the quickest ways to become familiar with yours is by marking your moments. Do you want a colorful array of memories that trigger cascades of the warm and fuzzies? Or a blurry recollection of hours spent pecking away on your smartphone? The choice is yours.


*I’d like to thank Dave Romanelli for first introducing me to the “beautiful, funny, delicious” approach to life and for teaching me that wine and chocolate taste better after yoga.

This page may contain affiliate links. Any sales made through this link will reward me a small commission—at no extra cost to you. See the affiliate disclosure here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *