We’re More Likely To Remember Scary Memories Than Happy Ones, Science Explains Why

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If we were to ask you about the last time you felt overwhelmingly happy and couldn’t stop smiling versus the last time that you went through a hard time, which one comes up first? More often than not, we tend to give more space in our memories to the bad events compared to the good times.

In fact, a new study shows that we’re able to remember more bad memories and with more details than good ones. It comes down to the emotion that the memory is charged with and the way it triggers brain activity, but at the cost of distortion. Here’s what that means.

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Bad Memories Last Longer

It may seem obvious that we’re more likely to remember abnormal scary memories than happy ones, but knowing why is the first step in training ourselves to prioritize good memories and manifest more of them.

woman hiding her face on black background
Melanie Wasser/ Unsplash
Melanie Wasser/ Unsplash

Researchers from Tulane University explain that the emotion-processing areas of our brain, the amygdala, and the frontal cortex, are triggered when a bad event happens. This gets them working on high alert and overdrive. People vividly remember bad things because when a surpsring event is taking place, a special memory mechanism takes over, recording the moment with picture-perfect accuracy.