Speer and Delgado report that thinking about happy memories enhances wellbeing when people are stressed. Their study “explored whether recalling autobiographical memories that have a positive content—that is, remembering the good times—can dampen the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis stress response.” Study participants were stressed psychologically by the researchers and the scientists then determined that “recalling positive, but not neutral, memories resulted in a dampened cortisol rise and reduced negative affect [mood] . . . . These findings highlight the restorative and protective function of self-generated positive emotions via memory recall in the face of stress.” The design of workplaces and other sorts of spaces can make it easier or more difficult for people to display objects, for example, that can bring positive memories to mind, such as photos taken during vacations.
Megan Speer and Mauricio Delgado. “Reminiscing About Positive Memories Buffers Acute Stress Responses.” Nature, in press.