Not remembering everything is common. But there might be a reason why your brain doesn’t want to retain small details.
Do you have a photographic memory? Or are you more likely to forget an event you don’t write down? While having a “good memory” may seem like an advantage, new research shows that the completeness of a memory is not as important as the lesson learned.
In a paper published earlier last year, the Persistence and Transience of Memory, researchers at the University of Toronto found that forgetting certain memories is not only beneficial but required for optimal decision-making.
Take for example an everyday walk to work. You won’t remember all the details from each day but you will remember certain things that will help in the decision-making process: the type of shoes you should wear or the highest traffic times.
The remembering (persistence) and forgetting (transience) cycle also depends on your environment. It would be unnecessary for a receptionist to remember every visitor’s name, for example, while a concierge would remember her client’s names much longer.
So, before you berate yourself for forgetting a small detail, consider the idea that maybe you have forgotten simply because your brain believes you don’t need it.