In his TED talk, Daniel Kahneman discussed how understanding memory is a key factor to understanding wellbeing and happiness. He explained that we have two selves: the experiencing self and the remembering self. The experiencing self is constantly in the present, where as the remembering self maintains the story of our life through memories of the past. Most moments of the experiencing self’s life are lost; very few are stored by the remembering self.
One of Kahneman’s first anecdotes is quite relevant to our recent class discussions on memory. He told of a man who was enjoying listening to a beautiful concert; his experiencing self was delighting in every minute of the music, until there was a loud screeching noise at the end of the concert, which ruined the whole experience. Kahneman points out that it was not the experience that was ruined, but rather the memory of the experience that was ruined. Only one moment of the concert was unenjoyable, however, it tainted the entire memory.
Another question related to memory that Kahneman asked is: Why do we put so much more importance on memory relative to the importance we put on experience?