I Remember, Therefore I Am

How has the idea of hard work become so prevalent that we have developed blinders to so many factors that affect our station in life?

Some may suggest it’s a cultural thing. After all, it is relatively unique to Americans. We are the land of self-reliance and pulling ourselves from our bootstraps.

Sociologically, researchers like Paul Piff will point to this as a sign of Fundamental Attribution Error, which is our natural tendency to overestimate the role of the individual versus the situation. (As a perfect example, I suggest you watch his TED Talk about his Monopoly study.)

All of this contributes to the story we tell ourselves about our self. Economics Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman makes this distinction as the difference between our “living self” and our “remembering self.”

If we reflect back on our own lives, there may be times when we “experienced” excruciating pain but our remembering self may instead recall the humorous circumstances surrounding them and therefore the pain as less than it really was. As Kahneman writes, “Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self and my experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”  

This may explain why two people who share similar life experiences that lead them to similar levels of success can see their paths so differently. It isn’t the path that matters. It’s how they remember that path.

How do you tell your story? Do you perpetuate the idea that you did it on your own? Or is there more than that? It may be the difference between your own story being fact or fiction.Learn about what other BELIEFS affect our story of Moving Up.

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