Weaving a Wake of Memories
The opening talk at TED was one of my favorites.
Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman describes how our "experiencing self" and our "remembering self" perceive happiness differently – a fascinating touchstone for self-reflection.
Comparing one-week and two-week vacations in the same place:
“For the remembering self, the two week vacation is barely better than the one week vacation because there are no new memories added. You have not changed the story. Time is actually the critical variable that distinguishes our remembering self from our experiencing self. Time has very little impact on the remembered story.”
Which reminds me that our perception of the passage of time is clocked by the pace of salient events, not the pace of time. For example, the sheer activity level of children and their rapid transformation accelerates the metronome of life. The timescale shift fosters an existential appreciation of the present as it feeds the remembering self.
“We actually don’t choose between experiences; we choose between memories of experiences. And even when we think about the future, we don’t think about future experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories. You can look at this as the tyranny of the remembering self, and you can think of the remembering self dragging the experiencing self through a set of experiences it doesn’t need. I have the sense that when we go on vacations, this is very frequently the case. We go on vacations in the service of the remembering self.”
Kahneman's Wake - the TED video is now online.