We all do it. When remembering past events in our lives, we can't seem to help but remember them positively, enchancing in our minds' eyes the pleasant and the appealing memories that those events involve (or we think they do), while suppressing the painful and the ugly ones.
The result is that past events in our minds come to seem like much more pleasant times in our lives than they probably really were.
But why do we do this? Why don't we exercise more objectivity when recalling the past events of our lives, rather than viewing them through the proverbial "rose-colored glasses?"
In doing some websearching for theories as to why this phenomenon exists, I found out, for one thing, that a psychological term in common use for it is "rosy retrospection." The Wikipedia discussion of this term:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/rosy_retrospection
And a psychologist's take on the term:https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=rosy+retrospection&&view=detail&mid=f2b48c053a8c50708ceef2b48c053a8c50708cee&rvsmid=1f773ac35b0d86f4a8811f773ac35b0d86f4a881&form=vdqvap
But even the above Wikipedia article and video only just describe the phenomenon without really getting into the scientific "why" of it. And after doing some further research, I was surprised to learn that there seem to be differing psychological theories as to specifically why we behave in this way, in regard to remembering the past.
But from what I learned after reading further a number of articles, two of the leading theories as to why we do so are:
1. Survival mechanism. A happy, energetic, and concentrating, brain makes better survival decisions than an unhappy, sad, and distracted, one. Hence we have evolved to prefer recalling pleasant past memories because we survive better that way.
2. Pain avoidance. Living creatures are hard-wired to avoid pain whenever possible. Just as in the physical world we naturally, even instinctively, avoid the physical pain that comes from touching a hot stove, so in the mental world we follow similar behavior to avoid the pain that comes from reliving unpleasant memories. It's just natural for us to do so.
But what about
the personal impact of "rosy retrospective," and not just the scientific theory behind it? Well, here's one parent's take on that, which will probably pretty much sum up how we all probably feel about
In short, it's just something that's natural for us, and it will continue to happen that way. The result is that, whatever the cause, our minds carefully edit our memories to bring the pleasant ones first in line, so that the past seems
like it was such a pleasant time, whether it really was or not.
There is even some of this going on in our undeniably unpleasant memories. During my own RT treatment for PCa back in 2011, for example, and the not so pleasant memories of it that came to exist, I still remember the pleasant encouragement of the nurses and techs, the waiting room camaraderie with other patients I had come to know as we gathered daily, the enjoyable conversations with my sons as they drove me to and from appointments toward the end of treatment.
It's almost as if our minds actively look for something, anything, that's positive, to remember about
even the most unpleasant or stressful experiences
So whatever the psychological or biological basis for it, "rosy retrospective" is naturally how we see the past. That's just the way it is.