The older you are, the heavier your life will be? Some would say yes – partly because they make the “retro mistake”. What is behind it and how you avoid it!
Have you ever heard of your mom, grandfather, or anyone else over 50, how beautiful the world was when, for example, there was no internet or mobile phone? How much wintry winters, summer summers, safer roads and friendlier people?
No wonder, but a typical human memory weakness. In retrospect, our life looks more beautiful than it really was . Especially problematic for people over 40, but also younger are affected by the “retro-error”. And that is stupid now … because he is a sure path to misfortune.
Negative emotions looking back and extinguished
Already in the late 90s (you know what great music there was then …?) US psychologists in a series of experiments to the so-called retro-error after. They interviewed different subjects for three different situations: Cycle tour through California, Thanksgiving celebration, and Europe trip. During the respective experiences they documented many negative emotions , eg. Eg self-doubt, disappointment and exhaustion. A few days later they repeated the questioning and – oh wonder! – suddenly the negative connotations and aspects were extinguished. Only a few days had passed and the past appeared to the subjects much nicer and more positive than they had actually experienced . Frightening, but true: we can not trust our memory!
With age, beauty moves farther and farther into the distance
For us, however, the retro-error will only have particularly dramatic consequences if we reach a mature adulthood, that is, at about the age of 40. Then there is the so-called “reminiscence bump” added: Most people retain more of their youth and their young adult life in memory as from the older years . Very likely, so psychologists suspect, because we form our identity in this earlier phase and it is therefore particularly formative.
But if the memory is full of pink-colored memories from the youth, the yearning for the past grows with each passing year – and with it the dissatisfaction with the present …
(K) a way out of the memory weakness?
Luckily, there are plenty of examples of happy elderly people who prove we are not condemned to old- age dissatisfaction despite memory impairment. Like Greta Silver (71), who claims to have just reached her prime and quite rightly points out: “The time between 60 and 90 is just as long as the time between 30 and 60.” (Would you like to hear more from Greta Silver? Absolutely understandable! Then we recommend our podcast, which we recorded with Greta: ” Happiness is a decision “).
People like Greta show: With the right attitude, we can protect ourselves from the fatal accident-combo of retro-mistake and reminiscence bump . However, we should not acquire them first with 40, 50 or 60, but best right now! The sooner we get used to focusing on the positive and making the best out of the circumstances, the easier it will be for us later in life – and the more we can enjoy our lives at all times.