Come take a walk down memory lane with me…it sure beats the stress and emotional upset of Washington DC.

Where are we going? To your first kiss…well, to my first kiss, and you can think about your own.

Why am I talking about it? I am reading the The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille to prepare for my interview with him in a few weeks about American culture and the loss of individual control through the pandemic and its impact on our American psyche. It should be a fascinating and important conversation as we all continue to deal with the deep emotional and physical fallout from the COVID lockdowns and associated economic challenges.

Interesting tidbit from The Culture Code: According to a study done by Rapaille’s team about the role cars play in the American psyche, more than 80% of Americans had their first sexual experience in the backseat of a car. I wasn’t one of those people…and I can’t imagine anyplace less comfortable or romantic. But then again, I’m not one for slapstick humor, and that’s essentially how car sex plays out, with faces getting bonked by elbows, hair caught in awkward places and clothing tangled around throats and ankles.

I shared the tidbit about sex in the backseat of a car at dinner with my husband and daughter, and that led to a discussion of our first kisses. I am not talking about the first peck…I mean the first sloppy “makeout” kiss.

My husband and I each took a moment to remember and reflect. Interestingly, we had very similar first-kiss stories—they both happened at a party in a friend’s basement. Mine was in seventh grade…with “John.” He was a big, strong, confident football player and the life of the party. I was more on the shy side and was in awe of this bigger-than-life human. It’s amazing how nearly 50 years later I can still feel myself sink into him with his arm around me on the couch.

That was Rapaille’s point—the impact of deep emotions on our memories.

I was not alone in the power of that moment. It was sweet to see the subtle smile on my husband’s face, which I’m sure matched mine, as we relived our individual experiences in our minds. And, when I took a little poll of friends and family later, the reaction was the same—a pause…a sigh…a name…and a detailed telling of the experience. Everyone I spoke with softened when they told their stories, remembering the excitement, vulnerability and humility of that awkward moment—a party…a basement…a bedroom…summer camp…the town swimming pool. What beautiful moments and memories.

Rapaille was right about the enormous connection between significant memories and their associated emotions. And while it wasn’t my intent, thinking about them was a much needed distraction from the fear and frustration I had been feeling for days due to the political unrest and resulting maelstrom on social media.

After remembering that lovely moment, my body shifted from tense and tight to a feeling of warmth with the memories of hope and excitement and connection.

Will you do yourself a favor and play along with me? What was your first kiss like? Do you remember it? Is the memory just in your head…or were you similarly transported to the details of your surroundings—the smells, the sounds and the feelings of it?

Drawing on these memories can provide powerful respite for your mind and body during tense times. Maybe it’s not your first kiss. Maybe it’s the moment you held your baby in your arms or got your first job offer or hit that perfect tennis shot right in the sweet spot of the racket. I can still feel and remember those moments as well—and, during challenging moments to come, I just may be calling on those memories to transport me to the times when I was full of joy and enthusiasm so that I can wrap myself in those feel-good moments and remind myself of the many good things to come.

Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast,  where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.