© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.The ability to selectively remember positive events is assumed to be one of the key adaptive mechanisms that enable especially older adults to maintain a high level of wellbeing, in spite of declining physical and cognitive functions. This is often explained as a positive side-effect of an attentional bias, the so-called “positivity effect”. We argue, however, that there are both theoretical reasons and empirical evidence for assuming that it that the subsequent, constructive use of memory need not always misrepresent events, but can also help to reveal the full significance of an event, which was not necessarily transparent to the individual at the outset. We tentatively consider a holistic and time-sensitive view of wellbeing, which, contrary to standard atomistic and time-neutral theories, assumes the quality of events and experience depends on the larger life-context in which they become embedded, so that the contribution of events and experiences to the overall quality of one’s life can change over time. We provide empirical support for our theoretical conjectures by analysing the results of an interview-based study of emotional memory of early autobiographical life events.