“Paying attention requires conscious effort. Your default brain activity is not attentive. Your inattentive brain is zoned out, daydreaming, on autopilot, and full of constant background, repetitive thinking. You can’t create a new memory in this state. If you want to remember something, you have to turn your brain on, wake up, become consciously aware, and pay attention.
Because we remember what we pay attention to, we might want to be mindful about what we focus on. Optimists pay attention to positive experiences, and so these events are consolidated into memory. If you’re depressed, you’re less likely to consolidate happy events or pleasant experiences into memory because happiness doesn’t jive with your mood. You don’t even notice the sunnier moments when you’re only focussing on the dark clouds. You find what you are looking for.
If you look for magic every day, if you pay attention to the moments of joy and awe, you can then capture these moments and consolidate them into memory. Over time, your life’s narrative will be populated with memories that make you smile.”
~ Excerpted from Remember by Lisa Genova