Why bad memories are Vivid

Do you remember the time when you lost your dog who was the dearest to you or the time when you had an accident. If asked about recalling someone from your past maybe you will recall some tragic or painful memories related to them. Ever wondered why we remember the bad ones more vividly than the good ones even if the latter is more in numbers. 

We often tend to remember the bad memories and it has many psychological, physiological and evolutionary factors involved. 

We can say that humans are lovers of tragedy. We forget the happy moments very soon. They do not last for long. On the other hand, tragedy leaves a powerful impact on us. Its appeal feels eternal because our heart is affected by it very much. P.B Shelly, famous romantic era poet also quoted in his poem ‘To a Skylark’ that – “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts” our best memories are from the negative memories because they have a strong impression on us. Moreover, people always try to find pleasure in tragedy. It attracts us toward it that’s why many of the greatest plays or movies in history have always tragedy involved in them. 

We have witnessed many musicians whose lives were more tragic and they created the best music inspiring from these tragedies. The audience also loved these songs because as I stated before we are lovers of tragedy. 

How memories are stored in our mind

When a memory is created it is stored in the brain in forms of neural connections of brains stimulated by proteins. Everytime we dwell in the memory or tell someone about it the connections become stronger. The memory will live with us forever if we visit it from time to time. Since the beginning people thought long memories are stable but that’s not perfectly true. Every time we revisit the connections get malleable and are subjected to differ. This means that they are not completely stable. Some memories can grow out of proportion. That’s why we see a person having a little incident with a spider in childhood can get an exaggerated phobia in their lifetime. 

Why bad is strong

Researchers have claimed that humans tend to remember the bad memories well. There can be many reasons for that. As a species we have to survive in the world and to do that we have to always evolve and learn from our mistakes. That’s why we remember the details of the bad memories so that it can be stored and used later when the same situation appears again. The lasting impact of negative memories is associated with the danger with it and our attention to the danger. We would be more attentive to a lion hiding in a garden rather than a beautiful flower in the same bushes in which the lion is hiding. We ignore the flower because it’s not dangerous compared to the lion. Also the strong memory of negatives is associated with the young age as this is the time we are in a more learning phase. As we grow old we tend to care less and focus on the positive. 

Whether it is good or bad, people have both. The ups and downs, the happiness and sorrow all are parts and parcels of life. One should always balance one’s focus between both to live the life fullest.