Monday, November 21, 2011

Memories and Experience

Our memories can ruin our experience or make them better. Inspired by Kahneman's TED talk which I heard a year and a half back and again couple of days back, I can say, I have so many examples in my life where my experience of an event has been completely ruined by my memories. As Kahneman points out - the experiencing self and the remembering self are two different ways we may be thinking of ourselves. The experiencing self is all about the present, the current experience which is going on, but the remembering self is how the mind forms memories about our current experience. What happens in present may feel great at the moment, but a little unpleasant memory of the current experience can ruin the entire experience when we recall it later. For instance, in psychology, when we do research work, we always have to take into account a possible limitation in experiments - the recall bias. The recall bias is when we ask participants of our research to recall an old incident. The remembering self is very much likely to affect the way they talk about the incident.

If we make conscious attempts to cut negative associations that the remembering self makes with an experience and make positive associations like remembering the better moments of an experience, our lives would be so much happier. I often hear from people about living this moment as is, enjoying each minute etc. Truth is, our experiencing self does this by itself anyways, but what we could play with is our remembering self. Why not give it a shot?