Linear Memory

Many people think of time linearly. Because of numerous cognitive biases, our brain simplifies a perception of time. We write stories and biographies in retrospect, and because of that, they usually are linear.

There is a conventional template for stories called the hero's journey, or the monomyth: a hero goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed.

This effect is what our brain does with memories. It's easier for us to perceive linear and consecutive information. We also tend to make up some of the missing details of our memories.

Many events that happen in our lives are more complicated and non-linear. It's tough to understand causal effects because our brain has limited capabilities.

For example, there are more root causes of any event than we can imagine. Or we can describe a process with a couple of variables, but in reality, there are millions of them. The hero's path isn't linear; it's a path of a doubtful person who doesn't know what they do and what they want.

We used to think of our achievements as a result of linear events too. That's why any memoir or biography is mostly a lie but a non-intentional one.

Tell others linear stories because people will remember them. But when doing the actual work, behave non-linearly.