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My Intentional Remembering Self

Posted by Meg Bear on February 23, 2010

As promised, I’m ready to share a TED learning.  As it happens this was the first session I heard so it has the benefit of being less jumbled.

The talk was from Daniel Kahneman the founder of Behavioral Economics (and yes, everything about that title appeals to me…. seriously — see previous confessions of geek-dom).

His talk was about the difference between our experiencing and our remembering selves.  Essentially,  we remember things differently than we experience them.  It is the memory of the event that we use in further decision making and it is often the expected memory that we use to decide our futures.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in as it has a big implication on everything from the types of vacations you take, to the places you choose to live, to the career decisions you make.

After the session, I asked my new friends at lunch how they thought they might use that information,and most people went down the path that they wanted to be more in the moment and intentional in their daily lives.  Essentially getting (and giving) more value to their experiencing selves.

I went the other way — I decided I want to put more effort into intentionally using my remembering self to my career and personal benefit.  Ironically, I had already started down this path I just didn’t have the behavioral economics rationale.

At the start of 2010, I began keeping a gratitude journal (yes, there’s an app for that).  I did this for a very selfish reason.  I had read about a study that suggested the gratitude journals helped college students have a better sense of well being, better outcomes in their schooling and better general health and wellness.

My selfish reason for giving this a try, was that I was tired of being sick so frequently and I was annoyed with myself for not having any fitness goals.  If I am completely honest, I didn’t really want to set a fitness goal, so when I read about the gratitude journal thing, I figured it might be a way to ease myself into a fitness goal.

I figured, instead of trying to do more, I would focus some energy on being happy about what I did manage to do.   A plan with zero downside and possible upside.  Exactly my kind of initiative.

Thanks to this outstanding TEDTalk,  I realize that I was using a gratitude journal to put effort in focusing my remembering self on the positive things in my life, my work and my relationships.

So, while I do think there is a lot of merit in being in the moment, I think you might be able to achieve faster results taking your remembering self a bit more seriously and being intentional in how you define your memories.

In other words, your mother might have been right in her advice to focus on the positives.  I’m currently experimenting with myself, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.


Update 3/1 — this talk is posted if you want to watch it.

8 Responses to “My Intentional Remembering Self”

  1. Lauren said

    This is really interesting – which gratitude app do you use?

  2. I can’t wait to see the video – this sounds very interesting. I really respect Kahneman’s work (along with Tversky and Thaler.) I’m intrigued by your idea of focusing on the remembering self as a way to intentionally define your memories. I look forward to seeing a post or two on how that works out!

  3. Lexy Martin said

    I wanted to know the gratitude app too. Thanks
    As another geek, to be fit I have to use my geekdomness to my advantage. I am using LoseIt, an iTune app, to record everything I eat. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far. And the cool thing is that if I exercise more, I can eat more as the whole thing is about calories consumed, or not. So, I’ve been exercising much more and feel great.

    On the memory front…what you are reporting is also something that I think we learn with age. It is a whole lot better to create our future based on the memory of a positive past than a negative one.

    Can’t wait to see the video, hear more about Ted.

  4. Thanks for this recap, how amazing to actually be at TED. Wait – did keeping a journal actually prevent you from getting sick?

    • Meg Bear said

      Very good question Ms. Working Girl. In fact, I am the type of person that can get sick really easily. It just takes me not listening to my body when it suggests I’m over-doing things. The cycle goes something like this — work into a frenzy over something, get stressed out, get sick. So while I’m guessing this isn’t a cure for the stomach flu I think it *is* helping with the chilling out part, which does seem to be helping me physically. To be fair, I’ve only been at this for a couple months so not enough data to analyze.

  5. […] Many appear to build on the kind of model that Daniel Kahneman talked about in the TED video that Meg posted about a couple of years ago. That is, we can think of ourselves as having an “experiencing […]

  6. […] research calls this priming.  Manipulating your remembering self to better impact the outcome of a current […]

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