By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood

Thinking: Why we only remember the good parts of vacations and forget the bad?

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Rosy Retrospection < Cognitive Biases < Four Mind Traps < TST Framework

Ever look back on a vacation and think it was all perfect sunshine and smooth sailing? That’s Rosy Retrospection at work! It’s a cognitive bias—a common mental pitfall that can impede critical thinking and decision-making.

To make sense of a complicated world, our brains simplify things. We tend to focus on the highlights, like breathtaking views or delicious meals, and forget the minor annoyances—lost luggage, sunburn, or long lines. This is also partly due to how memories are stored: positive emotions are linked to stronger memories, making happy moments more likely to stick.

This phenomenon applies to relationships as well, such as “the one that got away.” Often, we reminisce about these relationships by focusing only on the peak moments, forgetting the reasons why they ended, which can color our memories more positively than reality. Just remember, real life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

However, Rosy Retrospection isn’t always bad. Reminiscing for fun and enjoyment can leave you with a positive outlook and enjoyable memories. Just be mindful of this bias when planning to repeat an experience, whether it’s a relationship, job, or idealizing “the good old days.”

Rosy retrospection is a cognitive bias. Mastering it and making it a conscious part of your thinking abilities only requires awareness. Cognitive biases are one of the Four Mind Traps covered in the TST Framework. To explore more pitfalls of the mind, take the 10-minute deep dive into The Four Mind Traps: Logical Fallacies, Cognitive Bias, Heuristics, and Stereotypes.

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