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Here Are 3 Awesome Secrets to Happier Memories, Backed By Research | TIME


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You can't trust your memory.

Memory is fluid. Every time you recall something you’re essentially rewriting it in your head.

Yet you’re prone to stubbornly trusting this copy of a copy of a copy — even if it no longer resembles the original.

People are bad at remembering how we feel.

Memory isn’t just something to use when taking tests in school. It’s tightly coupled with happiness:

What does one of the foremost experts on happiness say is the biggest cause of unhappiness? My main takeaway from Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert’s bestselling book Stumbling on Happiness was:

Much of our unhappiness springs from the fact that we’re terrible at accurately remembering how things made us feel in the past, so we make bad choices regarding the future.

Ever eat too much, drink too much, or stay up too late, say “I shouldn’t do this because it makes me feel terrible”… and then do it again?

Ever dread Mondays, going to the gym or get-togethers… and then realize they’re really not that bad?

What are the solutions here?

1) Keep a list of what makes you very happy and very unhappy

Stop trusting your memory. Write things down. Feelings are fleeting. Keep a list of things that make you very happy and very sad.

2) Look at how other people react

Gilbert also has a suggestion that is quick and easy: Look at other people, what they do, and how they react in the moment.

3) Use your brain’s errors to make memories happierYes, your brain is imperfect, but it’s often imperfect in the same ways. You can use it’s errors to your advantage.

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, has shown that your brain consistently remembers only two things about an event:

  1. The emotional peak
  2. The end

Our memory is a gift like everything else we have and it works fine whenever we're good stewards of it.  Memory is like anything else we can do... it gets better with good practice.  And memory is something we can trust entirely if we cultivate it according to what we want to trust it to do.

Think of our bodies: if we allow ourselves to become a fat turd of a couch potato without exercising or eating well, would we trust ourselves to get up and run a marathon, a half-marathon, a 5K, a hundred yards... or even to the fridge?

We can trust whatever we work on and build up to trust... our memory is a gift like everything else we have and it works fine whenever we're good stewards of it.

Wait, didn't I just say that... ?

You did just say that. I thought memory is more like a muscle? Exercise it or it atrophies.

Its true.  And I've a fat turd of a couch potato memory...

Only the weak memories die. The strong find a way to survive. 

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