Source of image: Discover Magazine
Our memory is amazing. All of our daily activities stimulate our memory. Our brains are able to register and store information. In fact our brains have approximately a million gigabytes of storage capacity. Say enough capacity to store around 300 years of digital video recording!
However, as explained by Matt Wilson, a professor of neurobiology at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Memories activate emotions. In the past it was believed that only the brain was responsible for remembering. Michael S. Gazzaniga, professor of psychology at the University of California confirmed in 1988 that our nervous system is also involved in creating, storing and reliving memories. This means that the entire experience (what we see, thinks, feel, touch etc.) helps shape our memories. This is why the re-experiencing of past events can lead sometimes to physical symptoms.
To connect the dots one more fact has to be added. Good memories help release dopamine – a chemical substance in our brain that is responsible for positive feelings like: happiness or pleasure.
If this is all true then what does it mean in our every day lives? How can we use and benefit from these scientific discoveries?
First of all today’s experiences are future memories. If that’s the case then wouldn’t it be very smart to put an extra effort into remembering more specifically things that happen to us? You can stop and choose to experience the events of the day stronger. But learn to be clever with your choices and focus on the positive. Stop when something good happens and truly experience it. Feel it with all your senses to ensure that enough dopamine is released. This way the event will be remembered in a way that’s much more vivid and therefore more beneficial to you as a motivating and encouraging memory in a future. It will also be easier for you to recall these experiences when you choose to.
Secondly it sounds like a wise thing to do to actually decide what we want to remember. In other words to make a conscious effort to move away from recalling all negative experiences from the past and develop a habit of remembering and reliving positive ones. As a daily motivational exercise our brains can be encouraged to bring up all (seemingly forgotten) details of past positive events. If you didn’t pay enough attention to them when they happened, don’t worry. Do it now. Make it fun and enjoy reliving the experience itself as well as the experience of emotions (happiness, excitement, pleasure) that you felt at the time. Remind yourself about all of your past achievements, successes, learnings, rewards, completed projects, compliments etc. Magnify them and make them stronger.
It’s less scientific than you think, more practical and easier to adapt as a daily habit. Choose what and how you want to remember. Make a point of reminiscing about good events daily. Share them with others to enhance the positive impact. Pay attention and strengthen the memory of good times. Benefit from the amazing capacity of your brain. Knowing how it works it’s easier to use it to your own advantage.
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