What We Remember

“We’re constantly being swayed in what we do by just a little teeny change, something that comes, for examples, from our past experience with a certain kind of situation. But what we remember from the previous situation is not just the facts and not just the outcome that may be good or bad. We also remember whether or not what we felt was good or bad. This is something that people need to understand. When you are making decisions, any day of your life, the [choices] you make are going to produce a good or bad outcome – or something in between. You don’t only remember what the factual result is, but also what the emotional result is. And that tandem of fact and associated emotion is critical. And of course most of what we construct as wisdom, over time, is actually a result of cultivating that knowledge about how our emotions behaved – what we learned from them.”

~ Antonio Damasio, in conversation with David Brooks on the topic of emotions from the perspective of neuroscience and evolution during the Aspen Institute on July 4, 2009.