Niki Glanz


Did you receive that “perfect gift” over the holidays – the one that makes you smile, giggle, or close your eyes in rapture each time you think of it?

Let me guess: it wasn’t a sled. Your feelings of gratitude, however, may resemble those of Robert as he reminisces about the “new sled” he received one Christmas, decades ago:

We had one, good sliding hill in town: it wasn’t all that steep, but it was long. Every day in winter we boys went sliding. One year for Christmas, even though I hadn’t asked for it, I got a new sled with a sleek, rounded front and a bar you could turn practically at right angles. It also had springs, so if you belly whopped, your body wasn’t shocked when it hit the sled. I had been using my dad’s sled, and my dad’s sled was probably his dad’s sled. It was real stiff. That new sled is the only Christmas present that I remember getting as a child.                            (M2M, p. 155)

Deep-down gratitude: a never-to-be-forgotten feeling whether for that rare “perfect present” or for others we also appreciate. These gifts ooze utility – physical or sentimental – signifying a changed reality: “Oh, am I going to glow on Valentine’s. Just look at this dress!” or “A new used car! The ole junker gets to die at last. Wahoo!”

Another reason for appreciating a gift is what it represents: a close connection to whoever gives us the gift. If the person is someone we genuinely love, affirmation of our connection brings overwhelming happiness. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

In fact, any time we express gratitude our feelings of pleasure increase, often reducing stress or depression. If the above-mentioned new dress or car prompts us to change our behavior – for example, to line dance or volunteer for Meals on Wheels – our health may even improve. Exercise, socializing, and helping others all link with healthful boosts.

What about when we give? For most of us, the warm glow we feel from giving typically exceeds that of receiving. Believe it or not, the happiness generated by giving to the same people in the same ways doesn’t fade as quickly as do positive feelings of gratitude. Nor does the amount we give seem to matter. Research confirms: it’s better to give than receive.

Plus, material gifts aren’t always necessary, as Lauren’s memories demonstrate:

At holiday times, most traditions centered around food, like baking Christmas cookies with my mother and the Christmas turkey. My father without fail would say, “How about we open presents on Christmas Eve?” In my dad’s family on Christmas Eve the oldest brother would dress up like Santa Clause and pass out the presents. We’d all go, “No, no.”
I enjoyed looking at presents from my parents more than opening them because then Christmas was over. But Santa Claus never wrapped presents. So, we’d get up Christmas morning and run down to see what Santa left, while my parents stayed in bed. Then we’d go to the late church service.                       (M2M, p. 47)

This holiday scenario, faithfully repeated each year, enabled Lauren to give of herself by helping her mother and joyfully participating in family activities.

Giving simply makes us feel good. It lights up regions of our brains that are associated with happiness. Like feelings of gratitude, giving is associated with bolstering social ties. Also like gratitude, it often confers health benefits, even for those with serious diseases.

So, what are we saying when we wish one another “Happy Holidays?” The “holidays” have evolved over the millennia from a combination of secular and religious traditions, long thought to be opposing forces. Now science reveals that spiritual benefits, including a boost in pleasure and enhanced relationships, and physical benefits beyond the gift, such as better health, may instead mingle. Secular and spiritual together: a happy ending to the either secular/ or spiritual debate and to our 2019 holidays. Now, let’s celebrate 2020!

We find bits of ourselves in others’ memories, here exemplified by Robert and Lauren. You’ll find more memories that matter in the 59 deeply diverse, true stories recorded in Memories to Momentum by Niki Glanz, Ed.D. Available from Amazon in Paperback or eBook. Enjoy!

Your comments are welcome! Please email them to: [email protected]


Madeleine Li

Memories to Momentum is a heartwarming read of great insight – any reader will find parts of their own stories within the many individual journeys that Glanz so thoughtfully weaves throughout the book.

Madeleine LiProgram Officer, Global Non-Profit
Stanley Gardner

I like the concept of stories of our childhood memories influencing who we are. Through our imagination and understanding we gain growth, which brings us to who we are today. A must read!

Stanley GardnerBusinessman
Henry Stadler

Memories to Momentum provides insight into the power of memory and its effect on happiness. Myriad stories provide insight into the manner in which childhood memories can create an enduring mark for the rest of our lives. Through Niki’s accounts, readers learn how to achieve happiness in their own lives.

Henry StadlerUndergraduate Neuroscience Student at Skidmore College
Dolores DeGiacomo

I met Niki several years ago while she was working on this research. I’m so glad to see her final product. For practitioners, it’s incredibly important to work with our clients in the present with a better understanding of their past. This book will help professionals bridge the gap between goals and motivation in a way that helps clients succeed.

Dolores DeGiacomoCoach and Business
Judith Brown

This book made me ponder how people in our lives affect, so much, our end result.  Anyone would enjoy reading this book!

Judith BrownRetired Insurance Underwriter
Red Cross Disaster Volunteer & Rotarian
Jake Jacobs

This book gave me hope and reassurance that am not alone in the difficulties of life. Yes, I have seen where the struggles I go through have benefitted me. This book is a must read.

Jake JacobsEngineer
Ron and Dell Hadley

Memories to Momentum is elegant and thoughtful.  The diverse examples provided by the author through her numerous interviews provoke the reader’s own odyssey through their memories.  This medium also facilitates neat prose which allows the book to be enjoyable for all age groups.

Ron and Dell HadleyRetired Telecom Executive and Community Volunteer Mother of 5 daughters, now a grand- and great-grandmother
Marie L. Procter

Positive memories lead readers to make meaning of life’s events.

Marie L. ProcterReal Estate Manager and Book Club Devotee

“Great book!” Peg C, PA

“Received my copy yesterday and have read many pages already, starting with ‘Grandparents’ since I remember so well my dear Grandfather. Thank you for your accomplishment in publishing these important stories. Wonderful book!” Ron C, CA

“I very much enjoyed reading your book. The conclusion makes the reader appreciate the value of childhood memories.” Irma M, British Columbia

“Reading really well!” Patti M, United Kingdom

“Your book is both interesting and informing. Congratulations” Elfriede M, Georgia

[Re Homa’s Afghanistan story] “I realized how traumatic and damaging it is to millions of children that are impacted by conflict where they grow up.” Yuan K. L., Singapore

“I enjoyed your stories about mothers. Thank you!” Carol V, CA

“So positive to hear all those stories and how they grew from memories. Thank you so much for sharing this and creating this!!” Diane L, VT

“Congratulations – what a neat project.” Cindy, P, SC; Professor of Psychology, Clemson University

“Good work!” Rebecca M, Chair, NH Racial Healing Group

Memories to Momentum: Stories of Looking Back, Living Forward

Book Description

59 life stories from a wide variety of people as told by them!

Hear how they overcome adversity and enjoy good times, gaining a sense of pleasure and purpose in the process.

Who Will Benefit:

  • Family and Community Members
  • Public-Facing Employees (ed, medical, HR, gov’t, etc)
  • Entrepreneurs, College Students, and High School Seniors/Juniors
  • Seniors and their Families
  • Book Clubs

What You’ll Gain:

Both negative and positive memories contribute to lives with meaning and mirth. Discover strategies for meeting challenges and enjoying various forms of happiness. Benefits may include:

  • Increased self-knowledge
  • Both short-term and long-term happiness
  • Greater sense of strength and self-confidence
  • Personal growth
  • Increased resilience

Who Am I? Why Did I Write M2M?

I’m Passionate about Learning, Life, and Community!

dsc03833v1Learning. I graduated from Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh, then had the great fortune of teaching social studies courses, including several I created, at two top-tier high schools. One, in Evanston (IL), included students from more than fifty countries plus a diverse, local community; the other, located in LaPaz, Bolivia, attracted native Bolivians, Asian immigrants, and a smattering of North Americans. Sandwiched between these two positions, I taught ESL to adult Laotian refugees.

These experiences whetted my appetite for a doctorate that would incorporate cross-cultural education issues and strategies. I found exactly that at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. I also was able to study with renowned qualitative researcher Gretchen B. Rossman. Although I had majored in statistical research for my MEd, I delighted in the novel, unexpected findings that qualitative methods, such as interviews and observations, offered.

I then became an education professor at Augusta (GA) College (now University). There I had the thrilling opportunity of teaching grad and undergrad courses to students who would play a part in Augusta’s transformation from a leader of the Old South to regional, New South leadership. I also conducted staff development, special programs, and research with local, public school teachers and administrators.

Life. Meanwhile at each locale, my children and I were making significant life discoveries. As our physical settings changed, so did our pastimes. Celebrations ran the gamut from small-town strawberry festivals to Bolivia’s sensational Carnival to sledding down Amherst’s Memorial Hill to golf’s prestigious Masters tournament. Food, music, and speech varied, too, while warm-hearted people proved a key constant.

Following nearly 20 years in education, I launched a career in finance, managing a stock/bond portfolio for ten years. Fortunately, it handily beat S&P 500 metrics. Engaging with the business world was enjoyable, too – yet another slice of life!

Community. You could summarize all the above as a celebration of our greater community’s diversity, while seeking strands that unite. My family and I gained a lively amalgam of contrasting approaches to life that has enriched us in ways small and large.

I think you, too, will enjoy meeting a variety of people. Psychology, my major content area professionally and personally, provides us with a way to do that via “life stories.*” Enjoy M2M’s 59 takes on life: they come to you with both groans and grins from people who care enough to reach out and get personal. Voilà!

*See nearby link for more info re “Life Stories.”

More Info re Book: Memories to Momentum

By Niki Glanz

M2M highlights fifty-nine edited interviews that describe the intricate weaving of participants’ sad/happy, tragic/ecstatic memories. The book features millionaires to the homeless and includes participants of all ages, races, major religions, and an enormous range of locales. They portray horrors, such as war, abuse, and disability, along with uplifting scenarios of happiness, tenderness, and success. Feel free to befriend participants. Many share powerful, though subtle approaches for overcoming adversity and enjoying good times.

I have seen these ideas strike a responsive chord with the public. In the last several years, attendees at four international conferences have heard various findings from interviewees’ stories. For example, at the July, 2016, International Network of Personal Meaning conference in Toronto, I presented three, general ways participants turned challenges into triumph. Members of the audience warmly thanked me afterwards. Hopefully you, too, will find nuggets of wisdom and inspiration, as well as enjoyment, in M2M’s stories and Conclusion.

As a finale, M2M encourages readers like you to craft your own life story. The coping skills and optimism inherent in your story may help chart a way forward as you navigate that often tempestuous, yet gleaming river of life. An Introduction, Conclusion, Appendix and References supplement the 59 stories to complete the book.


Memories to Momentum: Stories of Looking Back, Living Forward

Do happy childhood memories matter? Seeing a slender boy perform killer cannonballs on a gorgeous summer day during a cross-country move impelled me to find out. Beyond his mighty splashes, the boy was a titan of joy. As he drew onlookers into his celebration of life, his exultation activated my research instincts: would later life reflect this exuberance?

Seventy in-depth interviews later, after touring North America five times for a diverse sample, I found the answer. Yes, upbeat episodes and retrospection of them promote a long-term imprint. The reality of joy appears complex, however. Although unasked, all interviewees also cited negative memories – at times devastating and tragic. Surprisingly, both negative and positive memories sparked life-affirming commitments. [If you’re wondering how negative memories could lead to anything good, here’s my response: Kindly buy the book!]

eBook and Paperback of Memories to Momentum NOW AVAILABLE from



Price: $14.99

To contact Niki Glanz: [email protected]