MEMORY MAKING (AND FAKING)

June 23, 2016  |  blog / people  |  No Comments

Imagine you could go on a holiday, but once it was over, you had to erase any evidence that it ever occurred and your mind was wiped clean of any recollection of it happening. How much would you pay for such a holiday? Would you even bother going at all?
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We spend a great deal of our lives tending to the making of memories. They feel intrinsic to who we are, and an accurate record of our past experiences. But often these memories are far from accurate and often cultivated at the expense of our experiencing self – the self who would’ve likely had a damn good holiday.
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The experiencing self is the one that answers the question “How does it feel now?”, the remembering self is the one that answers the question “How was it, on the whole?” “Memories are all we get to keep from our experiences of living, and the only perspective that we can adopt as we think about our lives is therefore that of the remembering self.”
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Only thing is, that our memories work in strange ways. Not so much remembering things as they actually were but rather fleshed out from a bare few indicators of significant or intense experience – namely the peak and the end. Think back to your last relationship. Chances are, if things ended badly, it’s harder to remember all those happy, content and satisfied feelings you felt together before things went south. Or getting a tattoo – it might not have hurt too badly the whole time, but you’ll remember the worst of the pain and that’s what you’ll take away from it.
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Our remembering self is important because it allows us to learn and grow from past experiences. But it can be unhelpful when we compare present experiences with the memories of old ones, as they can pale by comparison – not due to the fact that the current events are any less significant or meaningful, but rather our remembering self has imbued the past with a reverence not so much earned by the events themselves but by the constant re-remembering of them. So the good times are remembered as amazing times and the bad times are often remembered as being much worse than they were.
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A lesson to be learned here is to have a healthy skepticism of our memories, and not to disregard the experiencing self as transitory and insignificant. Spend time cultivating mindfulness and try and be present in the moment as it occurs. It’s a challenge, especially in our current society where a moment can be captured so easily by an iPhone, with a selfie stick, or when you (me) have just bought a new SLR camera.
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“The photographer does not view the scene as a moment to be avoided but as a future memory to be designed. Pictures may be useful to the remembering self – though we rarely look at them for very long, or as often as we expected, or even at all – but picture taking is not necessarily the best way for the tourist’s experiencing self to enjoy a view. ”
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Ol’ Johnny was spot on…
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Quotes taken from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast & Slow (Pages 381 & 389)



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