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Remembering self

Reblogged from elushika:

Illustration of a brain composed of lines and dots for blog post about memory.
Illustration of a brain composed of lines and dots for blog post about memory.

I was assigned to watch a TED video by Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience and memory. He talked about the type of experiences that we have day to day. Daniel lists 3 types of experiences:

“The first one is called the experienced self: Which lives in the present. It has moments of experience, one after the other and it is capable living in the past And you can ask: What happens to these moments? And the answer is really straightforward: They are lost forever.

Second you have the present self: This only the present, no past.

Lastly you have the remembering self: Is a storyteller. And that really starts with a basic response of our memories –it starts immediately. We don’t only tell stories when we set out to tell stories. Our memory tells us stories, that is, what we get to keep from our experiences is a story.”

Daniel’s TED talk resonated with me for a long time. I personally was thinking about my personal experiences in life, some positive and negative. If it was a positive experience, I would somewhat remember it, but there would be some blurriness. For example: I went to see the U.S. open last year with my boyfriend. I saw 2 incredible players: Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. I remember feeling very happy going to the event, but I do not remember much about the during and after.

It is completely the opposite feeling, when I think about my negative experiences. I remember them, as if it happened to me yesterday. Once a upon a time, I was living in Brooklyn and I had one of the loudest neighbors upstairs. Their walking steps sounded like stomping. They would wake me up at 5 am, while they were getting ready to work. My weekends were completely unbearable with constant noise from 10am to 6pm. When I went up to speak to them, my heart was racing and my imagination was running wild. I did not know what to expect. They scolded me and accused me of being inconsiderate. I remember feeling scared, defeated and lost. I even cried, because I knew they would make matters worse. Ever since that day, I would avoid the elevator with them.

Since that experience I have moved on and I do not lose sleep over it. The question I ask is why do I remember the negative experience so much more? Is it unfinished? Why can’t I forget and remember more of the happy experiences in life. Daniel mentions that the remembering self is a story teller. What comes to mind is that maybe my mind thinks the loud neighbors experience was much more interesting than a tennis match. The negative experience has adrenaline, fear and the unsureness of what was going to happened next. Also this story has been repeated many times, so most of the details are memorized.

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