Constructing the Preferred Narrative of our Lives

I want to extend my previous point on thinking about events, while I’m experiencing them, in the context of how I will describe them to others.

My broader theory, now, is that I don’t do the play-by-play in my head just to describe it on my blog, I do it to memorialize the experience in my memory so I can describe it to myself in the future. Each time we recall a memory, we change it ever so slightly to fit the "preferred narrative" of our lives. In fact, this is a critical element of self-deception. We experience an event and when we commit it to memory we smooth out the edges, embellish, simplify….all in the pursuit of crafting our "life story," an exercise that connects all the dots in our life as if they were the result of conscious choices instead of life’s randomness.

If we agree that self-deception is important for happiness, I don’t think mentally modifying the experience as it happens is a totally bad thing.

Constructing the preferred narrative of our lives is indeed integral to the American tradition. By forgetting our failures, by looking toward the future with blithe optimism, by ignoring history to an extent, we have the luxury of the permanent fresh start and the opportunity to reinvent ourselves each day.

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