Experience Versus Memory

According to Daniel Kahneman (one of the fathers of behavioral economics), we are more confused than ever about what happiness is. I’ve watched this fascinating talk by Kahneman several times now. In the talk he explains that there is a distinct difference in being happy with your life and about your life. This can be explained because of your experiencing self and your remembering self. The experiencing self lives in the present and is a good indicator of our general well-being; however, most moments of our lives are ignored by the experiencing self. The remembering self is the story teller in our minds that narrates our lives and this has a very powerful effect on how we feel about our lives.

Do you think you’d be happier if you were living in a place with a nicer climate, e.g., California? The answer is: it depends. Kahneman explains that your experiencing self will not actually be any happier in a place like California (climate is not important to the experiencing self), but your remembering self will certainly remember being happier when compared to living in a place like Ohio.

Ultimately, your experiences determine your overall well-being, but your memories of events in your life matter more than the experiences when it comes to happiness about your life. I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I did.



Leave a Reply