I heard a story on NPR this afternoon (it’s 1:20am and I’m counting “today” as January 20th, 2013), in which a neurologist detailed the way in which memories are shaped over time: An event happens. A little while later, we remember the event. Apparently there is a brief window of time (the remembering) in which the memory is suspended in an unstable state. The memory changes in that state. Each additional time we remember that event, we are in fact accessing a memory that has been warped again and again, a countless number of times.
That means we constantly mold the past by repeatedly accessing and tweaking memories. The past, in a way, is a fragile construct that lives in our minds, not something irreversibly carved in the stone tablets of our personal histories.
Why not use this to our advantage? If the memory genuinely changes each time it surfaces, why can we not (for example) remember all of the great things about last summer rather than all of the unpleasant things. We could choose to do the opposite, but that would only retroactively change that summer into a horrible one. If you do focus on all of the good things about last summer, surely you’ll expect to have another good summer this year. Maybe your good attitude will also change the way you approach the people around you. Maybe they will respond positively in turn. That would just give you more great material for good memories. [—–> Enter positive feedback loop. —–> ]
Okay, there are a lot of assumptions going on here. For example, I don’t know that you can control exactly how the memory changes once you access it. But isn’t it plausible? I love the idea that having a positive attitude is not just a triviality of the optimist. A token, “things aren’t so bad” or “it’ll look better tomorrow, why don’t you sleep on it” should mean more to us than the cynics admit.
Things I’m thankful for:
– My father, mother and brother: Though I have a rocky past with my family, I know they love me dearly, and they are very kind to me.
– My boyfriend Charlie: The fun never ends with this fellow! He is smart, funny and kind.
– My friends: I have to admit, I don’t have many. But the close friends I do have are golden indeed. You know who you are 😉
– My blog: Yes! Even though I’ve just started it, and even though I don’t write on here as regularly as I would like to, I enjoy blogging A LOT. I have something to look forward to every day that is just for me and just for fun.
Things might get too sappy if I continue with the list, so I’ll leave it there. But I’m determined to look on the bright side from now on.
Quick update: My kindness act on Friday involved giving this to a stranger on the street:
It’s not original, but it’s a start. I’m hoping the more kind acts I engage in, the more creative I’ll get. If you have any ideas, please let me know!
Peace, love, and REMEMBERING TO GIVE THANKS!