We’d like to think of ourselves as the sum of our prior experiences, learning and growing over time. As it turns out, we do not accurately remember our experiences. What we identify as our own “experiences” are not experiences at all but memories. What end up as memories tend to be the outliers of those experiences.
In the words of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, these events are black swan events. But black swan events do not just apply to large organizations or countries; they also occur on the personal level of our everyday lives. Our experiences compete for space in our limited memories, and we remember the black swans. Since the events we forget do not simply reside in memory as gaping black holes – like the retinal blindspot, the brain simply does not perceive the forgotten events, it may then be suggested that black swan experiences shape who we are.
Thus, it follows that to live a fulfilling life, one should optimize on the quality and number of memory-worthy experiences. It means to take frequent vacations, see new places, but it also means to attempt a wide array of extra-curricular activities, learn a few things about areas outside of our expertise. It means surprising our lived ones with something special spontaneously so they too can share some of these memories with us.