A sharp memory doesn't make you smart. Our brains are actively trying to forget things.
It might be good to forget some things.
A recent study from Canada shows that our brains are typically trying to forget. It suggests that the "goal" of our memory is to dump extraneous details and hold onto the important ones — meaning that we don't want to remember everything.
"If you're trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up multiple conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision," Blake Richards, an associate fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's Learning in Machines and Brains Program, said in a release.
We're better off forgetting some things
According to the study, forgetting memories helps us in two ways: First of all, it allows humans to adapt to new experiences by relinquishing old or misleading information collected in the past. It also simplifies our memories to a few key details that we can quickly retrieve when we experience a similar situation, as opposed to clogging our brains with every little detail of what happened.
Think of it this way: Store clerks who meet dozens of people a day will likely forget their customers' names, but freelancers who work with a small set of clients will remember that information for much longer periods of time.
"One of the things that distinguishes an environment where you're going to want to remember stuff versus an environment where you want to forget stuff is this question of how consistent the environment is and how likely things are to come back into your life," Richards said in a release.
The discovery upholds some widespread wisdoms and cliches: Don't sweat the small stuff, and always remember what really matters.