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Forget the Facts and Remember What is Most Useful

My Daughter, who is 10, goes to a drama club and they put on plays a couple of times a year. The plays are really well produced and she absolutely loves going. In fact I think if she had to give up all of her activities apart from 1, this would be it.

Recently they auditioned for part for the new play. She came home all excited and knew the part that she wanted, the part of the Silly-Idiot. It was all that she talked about for the whole week.

When she went the following week she was so excited, “I hope i got the part of the Silly-Idiot, i really want it.” When she came home she said “I didn’t get to play the silly-idiot but I got this part and it’s really great becasuse……” and gave me a list of reasons why she was looking forward to it. What an amazing attitude. When she wasn’t given the part they wanted many others would have been disappointed. Instead she started looking for the positives, hardly a mention of the part that she didn’t get.

What difference would it make in our lives if we always remembered to ask ourselves: “here is the situation, what is good about it?”

The next morning at breakfast she was deep in thought and out of the blue said “Dad, I’m so happy that I got the part that I wanted in the play.”

We can write own own memories

That blew my mind; she had forgotten that she didn’t get the part that she wanted. She had re-written her memory, literally thought herself into a happier one.

Neuro-science now proves that when we think a thought more than once we literally fuse together some of the neurons in our brain which is what creates a neural-pathway. It’s not the experience that creates the pathway, it’s how we think about it that does.


“Nothing is good or bad, it’s the thinking that makes it so.” William Skakespeare

Think about that for a moment, the implications are huge. What do we think about when we go on an appointment and the customer says no, or if we don’t do the presentation as well as we thought that we should? Perhaps the customer is scathing about the oportunity because they can’t see the vision as well as you can; what do you focus on on the way home?

Do you tell yourself that the meeting went badly, or that you are not very good at this whole thing? What if you were to look for all of the things that you did well? You made the appointment which means that you followed the system, you turned up on time (you did didn’t you?), you remembered to cover all of the important information, you created good rapport and so on.

The difference is what you will remember in a week. Will you remember that you went on an an appointment and it was terrible and you wanted the ground to swallow you up, or do you remember that you had an enjoyable evening, practiced your skills and this one turned out to be one of the ones who said no. In a months time you will most likely have forgotten about the evening all together apart from somewhere in your mind the memory is still there and it’s either tagged good-experience or bad-experience.

Using Your Brain to it’s Full Potential or How Flickr can Help us to Have a Better Life Experience

Have you ever used that photo sharing site Flickr.com, or the note taking app Evernote? If not you’ll probably get the concept. You upload a photo and from there you can do various things with it. On Flickr you can put it in an album or in Evernote you can put it in a notebook. It’s the same thing really, you are creating a hiarachy rather like a folder system on your computer.

The other way that you can find stuff is by tagging it. A tag is really just another name for a label. When you upload a photo you can apply tags such as birthday or holiday and then when you’re searching for photos you can find any that have the label, holiday or Bob or whatever. What is really cool is that you’re not limited to using directories OR tags, you can use both.

Would it surprise you to know that that is how our minds work? It shouldn’t do, most things in the computer world parallel what happens in our minds, after all, where do you think people get the ideas from?

In the case of my daughter she got the part that she got, that can’t be changed.

What can be changed is what directories she chooses to store the memory in, or what she decides to tag it with. She could have put it in a directory called “things that didn’t go according to plan” and perhaps tagged it with the label “disappointments.” Instead she chose to put it in the directory called “things that went just the way that I wanted to” and tagged it with something like “great moments.” What is fascinating is that by changing the directory and the tags has affected the way that she remembers it. Literally changed the memory.

Another quote that I like is from Winston Churchill who said “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Imagine if that were true. That would mean that not only can we choose how to categories memories while we are creating them, we can go back and change the labels later.

I could carry on with my hypothesizing to the point of saying that our memories are not objectively true. We don’t remember what actually happened, we remember what we thought about what happened. Interesting stuff. What is just as interesting is how are you going to ensure that when you are creating memories from now on that you create them in the most empowering way?

Here’s to your happy memories

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