The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Do You Have the Most Vivid Memories from Your Life?

Do you remember certain years of your life with particular vividness?

I don’t have much time to write, because I’m leaving for L.A. in an hour–I’m going to be on The Talk on Tuesday, which will be a lot of fun. Tune in! I’ll also get to see my sister and her family, which will be a real treat.

I was very intrigued by this observation in Jennifer Senior’s piece in New York magazine, Why You Truly Never Leave High School:

Give a grown adult a series of random prompts and cues, and odds are he or she will recall a disproportionate number of memories from adolescence. This phenomenon even has a name–the “reminiscence bump”–and it’s been found over and over in large population samples, with most studies suggesting that memories from the ages of 15 to 25 are most vividly retained.

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Fascinating! It reminded me of a passage from Robert Southey, which I quoted in Happier at Home:

Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life. They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so when we look back on them; and they take up more room in our memory than all the years that succeed them.

According to the science, Southey was half-right.

What do you think? Do you remember certain years of your life with particular vividness? Would you say it’s from age 1-21 years, or 15-25 years, or some other period?

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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