The popular myth that goldfish have no more than three-second memories is just that, a myth. The truth? They’re actually rather good at remembering stuff way beyond this, almost certainly for three months or longer.
And in some ways this is unfortunate, because the idea of being unable to remember the past should in theory be an excellent way of reminding yourself to live in the present.
In fact, though, the present moment is the only moment over which you and I have complete control.
Can we change what happened ten days, or even ten minutes ago? No. What’s passed is in the past.
Can we truly predict what’s going to take place in ten days, or ten minutes? Again, no. In many ways the future lies beyond our control.
It’s in this current, present moment that we’re most able to choose what we do, and more importantly how we feel.
For instance, if you simply make yourself smile right now (and why not go ahead?) there’s pretty good evidence that you’ll trigger some of the same feel-good neurological responses that your brain experiences when you’re in a longer-term better mood.
Imagine. The only moment over which you have control is the present one, and you’re completely at liberty to decide whether it will be miserable or happy.
I think I know what I’d prefer, particularly when we also recognise that the longer-term future can simply be seen as a succession of present moments. It seems you and I have a lot more control than we might think.
And a lot more freedom than the average goldfish.