“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
Food For Thought
Emotions, Nostalgia, and Why We Remember What We Remember
Memory is funny, isn’t it?
I can’t remember what day it is even though I’ve checked the calendar 50 times since starting work.
Yet, I can vividly recall a moment in 7th-grade band class, when Jesse Fischer loudly proclaimed that I was growing a mustache. (Perhaps it’s important to note here that I’m a woman, so this was quite detrimental to my self-esteem at the time.)
Why do we so intensely remember certain events?
What triggers strong memories, incites nostalgia, or causes us to forget things?
“Fundamentally, memory represents a change in who we are. Our habits, our ideologies, our hopes and fears are all influenced by what we remember of our past.” -BrainHQ
In today’s newsletter, we are taking a different spin on #ThrowbackThursday. Rather than reminisce about the cultural icons, shows, music, or objects that we all know and love, let’s reflect on the individual stories and personal memories that make us who we are.
According to Dr. Shahram Heshmat, “Emotion acts like a highlighter pen that emphasizes certain aspects of experiences to make them more memorable.”
Sometimes this is torture – our most dreaded memories won’t leave us because of the strong emotions we’ve attached to them. (In fact, memories of emotional pain are harder to forget than memories of physical pain.)
On the flip side, this association can be used to our advantage. By focusing on how something makes you feel – by attaching an emotion to an event or action – you can make your memory stronger. This has a profound impact on your ability to learn.
Ah, yes… that simultaneously wonderful and sad feeling of thinking about “the good ol’ days…”
Nostalgia plays a huge role in what we think, how we respond to new information, and even the basic concepts of advertising.
The term nostalgia originates from the Greek words “nostos”, which means homecoming, and “algos”, which means pain or distress. “Homecoming pain” seems a fitting way to describe the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia.
Read: How Nostalgia Made America Great Again — When the present looks bleak, we reach for a rose-tinted past.
Despite the title, this article does not just focus on politics. It’s also an in-depth look into the science of nostalgia, and why it’s a necessary mechanism of dealing with reality.
Why We Remember What We Remember
Outside of emotional attachment, there are other factors that influence memory, or lack thereof:
Attention – Our minds are influenced by all kinds of cognitive biases that in turn affect where we focus our attention. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is one example. It happens when we learn or notice something new and then start to see that new thing everywhere. Here’s a long list of other cognitive biases that direct our attention, and thus influence our memory.
Stress – This comes as no surprise, but stress and anxiety cause memory loss. This can lead to moments of ‘black out’ in your memory.
Duration Neglect – Memory isn’t good at recording duration. Instead, we only recall the ‘peaks’ of an event (the extreme highs and lows) and don’t judge the experience as a whole.
For a deeper dive into these ideas, go here.
So how does all of this affect our day-to-day? How can we use this knowledge to not only remember what’s on our todo list, but do better work? ⤵️
Advertising to Yourself
Advertising is a powerful tool used by corporations and brands all over the world to motivate people to act in certain ways. In this episode, Chad and Stephanie talk about why advertising to yourself — either on your fridge or from your phone — can be just as powerful in creating positive changes in ourselves.
🎧 Listen to the Episode 🎧
How Culture Influences What You Remember and How You Think About Yourself
“Autobiographical memory encompasses memory for significant personal experiences and knowledge of the self and, consequently, is critical for personal identity and psychological wellbeing. Although autobiographical memory, like many other cognitive faculties, has been traditionally viewed as an individual matter and a product of the mind or brain, research in the past two decades has revealed the central role of culture in human cognition and remembering.”
Read: Autobiographical Memory and Culture
Add This To Your Reading List
Moonwalking with Einstein
Wouldn’t it be so much easier to master new skills if we all had Sherlock-Holmes-like memory? Sure, Holmes is a fictional character, but as it turns out, his mysterious brain power is not so much a fictional concept.
Anybody can learn memory techniques that drastically improve learning and processing power.
Moonwalking with Einstein follows Joshua Foer’s quest to improve his memory by learning from the greats. He provides an in-depth understanding of how our brains work, explains the science behind memory, and analyzes the memory techniques used throughout history.
Check it Out 📚
If You Ever Wondered How That’s Made…
Yesterday we talked about booze and today we are sharing gifs of brownies?!? Man, we are keeping it healthy this week aren’t we, folks? 😂
Check out other delightful treats are made → How It’s Made: Top Ten Favorite Foods
Sign Off 👋
One more day and then it’s the weekend! Finish the work week strong.💪😎
Catch you all tomorrow!
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