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Old 07-05-2009, 11:05 PM   #1
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Question Why do we only remember the good times ?

Just something that I was thinking about the other day, and wanted to share it with you. Not sure if anyone will get what I mean or even agree but your comments/thoughts are welcome :-

I was wondering WHY in general we only remember the "good times" even though we went through SOME terrible times too. For instance, memories of an ex-partner, memories of an old address, family memories etc Those (apparently separate) experiences/memories can have good or bad feelings attached to them. Thankfully, most of our memories seem to be the good type. Maybe remembering the good times is a reflex response in order that we dont go insane ?

Or maybe there are also other reasons that we remember mainly only the "good times" ?

For example, when we have had a long term relationship and then eventually it ended in a split, we remember just the good times and for some reason blank out the bad. I think that POSSIBILY the main reason for this is because time is really an illusion. A long term relationship lasts for a certain amount of time (eg. 5 years), but in reality it lasts just an instant, it lasts like a "day". So what was your "day" like today ? It was either good or bad OVERALL. And that 5 years (really only a "day") you either enjoyed/benefitted from or you didnt. Overall, if you have enjoyed or learned something from that "day", then it was obviously "good".
So in other words what I am trying to say (and failing miserably at) is that we may have a 5 year relationship where lots of things happen, for example :-

- We have a nice day out together in the park
- Go abroad together and enjoy it
- She has an affair
- Split up
- Get back together and have a great couple of years
- Split up again for good

The above could be seen as happening in on instant. Was it a good "day" or was it bad one ?

Our lives last only a "day" in my opinion.

Last edited by steevo; 07-05-2009 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:20 PM   #2
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I remember good things and bad things in equal measure... I found that it seems to be quite rare and I don't know if its good for me or not. I'm surely not the most outgoing person but I have never been.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:39 PM   #3
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I have an idea about this steevo.

We tend to remember the 'good times' because all we are is thought. Our whole identity is a bunch of thoughts. To keep this illusion going we must keep thinking about ourselves. It's like we have to tell ourselves stories to maintain our identity. So naturally we tend to tell ourselves the 'good bits'. It's like this... If all your thoughts were bad, it would be like a nightmare, you'd want to wake up. It's actually so similar to sleep. You have a good dream, you don't want it to end. You have a bad dream and you wake up. Our waking state is no different. It just appears to be a harder dream to wake up from because everyone else seems to be in it and they are constantly re-affirming it's real and not a dream.

It even takes a hell of a lot before we'll wake up to the bad bits. There's plenty people (I was one of them ) who when things aren't going so well and they cannot manage to convince themselves of the 'good bits' any longer will change tactics and make themselves a victim. In a strange way that can also be enjoyable. To remind yourself how shit your life is and how nothing goes right for you and everyone else gets the breaks... that can go on for a while in itself before you get so tired of it you either commit suicide or wake up.

There isn't really any difference between a positive person and a cynic. One is constantly reminding themselves everything is rosy, the other that everything is shit. Both have the very same motive. To maintain the 'person' they believe themselves to be.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:50 AM   #4
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I'm not sure why, but ALL of my earliest childhood memories are of traumatic things that happened - events that frightened my child-mind witless. Perhaps they created stronger emotions in me that left a much stronger mark on my psyche, because I don't even remember any good times till later in my childhood, and even then, its the more negative memories that jump out at me first when I think back.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by limelady View Post
its the more negative memories that jump out at me first when I think back.
Same here.
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:16 AM   #6
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I'm inclined to agree, as I tend also to remember mostly the good times as well. Part of this is because I've never really had that many "negative" experiences; but I think it's more the fact that I've looked back on my life and it all makes perfect sense, every memory is a puzzle piece that fits perfectly within the whole - it doesn't matter if it's been perceived of as positive/negative because in reality it's just part of the big puzzle, the big picture, which in itself is magnificent and miraculous. Even the bad times are good because you learn so much wisdom, so much feeling-based knowledge during the hard times.
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:32 AM   #7
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I don't think there's really a focus over one or the other, it's just in how the memories are used. I think we place our good times in the conscious part of our brain, while the bad times in the subconscious. Here's why I think this.

If we were to constantly harbor those bad memories in our conscious mind, it would give little reason to continue living. That wouldn't be very good for a species, as it would work like a self destruct mechanism. Instead I think we keep the better times at the forefront of our minds to help us push through the rigors of life. A strong healthy mind makes the harshness of life easier to go through, and strengthens the body. This makes passing on our DNA easier, and helps to understand what it is to be alive.

The paradox of this is keeping our less than pleasant experiences in our subconscious mind as learning tool. Example: Say there was a cookie on a metallic table which had an electric current running through it. You grab the cookie but get a nasty jolt, and that's never a pleasant experience. Your brain places this in the subconscious area to be filed away for a time when it needs to be recalled. Now say, a year passes and you cross another metallic table with a cookie on it. During the transition between this time, you likely aren't thinking of this because it was bad, but when you see the table, you remember it because of the bad experience. Because of this stored bad memory, you check the table and unplug it. You walk off with that cookie without the jolt you got before.

That's how I think thought processes work with storing memories of good times and bad times. They're both valuable survival tools in their own ways.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:05 AM   #8
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Maybe because eventually the ''bad'' times become good times after you take what you need to take from the expierance of the ''bad'' times? And after you learned what you were meant to learn than the memory gets filed away in a seperate folder.

Or we just block out bad times for like a survival mechanism to keep us protected from trauma.

I really don't know, lol. Good theories so far though.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:17 AM   #9
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Acutally I remember more bad times than good. Honestly it's hard for me to remember anything good. Not to say I have had the worst life...which is odd.
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:04 AM   #10
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Pretty simple really blocking out bad memories is our sub conscious way of protecting ourselves like a defense mechanism if you get what I mean although it doesnt always work . We also have a need and want to be happy in this life why would we go on if we kept going over the bad things that happen to us ? People that have alot of depression/feel suicidal generally keep going over the past ect they have their mechanisms lowered I suppose the trick is to balance yourself to keep them up.

But I do not think anyone can truly forget the bad things just block them

the term "always look on the bright side of life" rings true I spose
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:20 AM   #11
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Well Steevo, Iwas going to say that some people only remember the bad times of their childhoods.

then I thought of me and my brief marriage, I dont necessarily remember the good times but I know Ive blocked the bad times, perhaps its because I dont want to go there or perhaps its because I sussed out it was all for the good and if I was asked if I would go through it again, I would probably say yes because of what I learned form it
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