Your Most Attractive Non-Physical Asset, and How to Use It
Why your memory may be your most alluring quality.
Posted Dec 27, 2018
We all appreciate that attraction is much more than physical. We are often irresistibly drawn to certain people not because of the way they look, but because of the way they make us feel. Research reveals what we all know instinctively: There are common emotions we all crave, and we desire to spend more time with those who are able to deliver the goods. How do they do it? By appealing to a basic human desire to feel important, valuable, and special.
One of the ways in which people cultivate our natural, emotional high is very simple. They remember us. Fondly.
I Remember You!
Imagine running into someone you went to high school with, who excitedly shares how well she remembers you and the distinctive ways in which you stood out from the crowd. Whether she remembers your academic, athletic, or even social accomplishments, such praise can make your day. It can also positively impact your feelings about yourself as well as your classmate.
Being unforgettable is both flattering and humbling, and is tied to our sense of self-worth. Good politicians make others feel like this intentionally. Good friends and loved ones do it authentically. And regarding the power of attraction, conveniently, being genuinely interested in other people makes other people genuinely interested in us.
The opposite is true as well. Another common human experience, unfortunately, is the disappointment of being forgotten.
The Ultimate Insult: Being Forgettable
I have prosecuted parents who, amid parking lot signs that warn us not to leave our valuables in the car, left behind the most valuable possessions of all: their children. This extreme example illustrates how absent-minded some people have become with so many demands on their attention and time. In a world of distraction and multitasking, people forget even their loved ones, sometimes literally.
You do not need to be a child to suffer the sting of being overlooked or disregarded. People never outgrow the need to be remembered. In fact, some people consider being forgotten to be the ultimate insult. Have you ever reviewed the minutes from a meeting you attended only to notice your name was omitted from the list of attendees? Even worse, what if other attendees (erroneously) affirmed the minutes were accurate? You must have made quite an impression.
Why is being forgettable so insulting? Perhaps because being memorable is inexorably tied to feeling special, which is enormously important in today's world. In an increasingly competitive society of high standards and overachievement, we want to feel that regardless of our attributes and talents, we are valuable.
Feeling special, in turn, quite simply makes us happy.
Feeling Special, Feeling Happy
We can all relate to the positive emotions associated with feeling special. Children receive positive reinforcement from parents and teachers, adolescents derive additional self-worth from peers, and adults seek to cultivate loving, committed relationships that satisfy this deep emotional need. But how exactly does it work?
Feeling special involves feeling unique, which research shows is tied to happiness. In a paper entitled “Feeling special, feeling happy,” Selda Koydemir et al. (2018) describe research showing that a personal sense of uniqueness was positively associated with authentic living, which in turn was positively related to happiness. They found the relationship between a personal sense of uniqueness and happiness was mediated by self-alienation.
They note their findings are consistent with prior research suggesting that a personal sense of uniqueness affords freedom of choice regarding ways of living, as opposed to relying on others to provide points of reference. Similarly, they recognize that feeling unique means feeling special while walking one's own path of life, rather than seeking to conform to external influences.
Modern external influences in modern day society include social media-driven, impossibly high standards of both physical and non-physical traits and qualities, most of which are unattainable, and even undesirable in terms of lifestyle. Yet because this is the world in which we live, people who affirm our uniqueness, faults, flaws, and all, are friends for life.
A Good Memory Gathers Many Friends
Here is the best part: It is easy to become a source of authentic self worth for others. Share your fond memories, and make someone's day. Recalling positive thoughts about others is a blessing to both you and them. In a world of competition and self-doubt, authentic praise is edifying, encouraging, and empowering.
So don't be a secret admirer. Share genuine praise, and reap the benefits of your graciousness.
Selda Koydemir, Omer Faruk Simsek, Tubanur Bayram Kuzgun, and Astrid Schutz, ”Feeling special, feeling happy: Authenticity mediates the relationship between sense of uniqueness and happiness,” Current Psychology, May, 2018, 1-11.