I was listening to a TED Radio Hour podcast about memory, and Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow (a book I loved), was saying we get confused between our experiences and our memory of experiences. As an example, he talked about how people can have a great day, and at the end of the day something goes wrong and they say, “That ruined my day.”
But, that’s not true. The day was a great day until that time and the day wasn’t ruined—it’s their memory of the day which may have been ruined.
The difference is nuanced. It’s kind of confusing, but very cool. It’s kind of like the subtle difference between saying to someone, “Don’t feel bad,” (to which they may rightly reply, “Don’t tell me how to feel”) and, “Don’t think those bad thoughts,” which can be good advice.
When my kids were young, there were many times when I heard them say to each other, and to me, words to the effect of, “I was having a nice day until you ruined it for me.” In addition to the truth being a ruined memory, as opposed to a ruined day, most of those claims were exaggerations for dramatic effect, and with how resilient kids are, they often bounced back to it being a good day after all.
Adults are often less resilient than kids. And happiness strategies like this one, which help us get back on track, are a good thing. Don’t let small stuff “ruin” your day, and remember, it’s nearly all small stuff.
How do you think about your day when something goes wrong? Please join the conversation with your comments…