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How Memories of Kindness Can Make You Happy

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_memories_of_kindness_can_make_you_happy

greatergood.berkeley.edu

How Memories of Kindness Can Make You Happy
Just this month, a group of middle school students in Alabama made the news for posting positive notes on the lockers of fellow students. For Christmas, a few Attleboro, MA, students chipped in to buy their beloved school janitor new boots as a present.

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Remember That Good Action

Acts of kindness have been proven to make us happier, lower our blood pressure, and promote stronger social connections.
While people do feel good by doing acts of kindness, new research shows that we benefit by just recalling certain acts of kindness done by us in the past.

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Childhood amnesia

Childhood amnesia

On average, people’s memories stretch back no farther than the age of three and a half.

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Our earliest memories are forgotten

  • In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud gave childhood amnesia its name. The most commonly accepted explanation for childhood amnesia was that children couldn't form stable memories until age 7 - even though evidence for this idea was lacking.
  • In the late 1980s, experiments revealed that children three and younger keep their memories, although it is limited. At 6 months of age, infants' memories last for a day, and by age 2, for a year. At around age 6, children begin to forget many of their earliest memories.

The early childhood brain

From birth to our early teens, we have far more links between brain cells. The excess brain mass is very adaptable and allows children to learn very quickly.

But the adaptability comes with a price. The large and complex network in the brain is still busy growing and not as capable of forming memories efficiently as in adulthood. Consequently, long-term memories created in our first three years of life are the least stable and prone to be forgotten as we age.

2 more ideas

1. The Loci Technique

Also known as “The Memory Palace, it consists of associating each item you’re trying to remember with a specific image and a place. You can imagine the items lying around in places that have...

2. Mnemonics

Acronyms, music (very effective) or rhyme, or sentences of words that start with the same letter as the items you are trying to memorize are all mnemonic techniques that help you to remember and retrieve information.

3. The Storytelling Technique

Stories encompass all the qualities of information that makes our brain love and remember it: vivid and colorful picture and engaging plotlines about other beings that are alive.

By creating a narrative that is interesting to and include items you need to memorize, you create a story your brain can follow.

The cognitive dissonance theory

Suggests that holding 2 or more contradictory beliefs at the same time causes people to experience mental discomfort, which manifests as psychological stress. 

And people will alw...

The Benjamin Franklin effect has generally been explained using cognitive dissonance theory.

Essentially, this means that when someone does you a favor, they need to be able to justify...

The Benjamin Franklin effect has generally been explained using cognitive dissonance theory.

Essentially, this means that when someone does you a favor, they need to be able to justify it to themself, in order to avoid the cognitive dissonance that might occur from doing something nice for someone that they dislike.

The Benjamin Franklin effect

Is a psychological phenomenon that causes us to like someone more after we do that person a favor: We justify our actions to ourselves, that we did them a favor because we liked them.

But the reverse effect is also true - we come to hate our victims, which helps to explain wartime atrocities.