Buffett’s Bathtub Memory

I love reading physical books.

But there’s one problem with physical books. My shelf space is limited.

To overcome the shelf space limitation, I developed a simple fitness function for my books. Books that I won’t reread will be donated to the library. Don’t get me wrong. They are good books that will be useful for others. Why lock it if I’m not going to reread them.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life is one such book that passed my fitness test. While rereading this fantastic book, I came across one useful technique that Warren Buffett follows called Bathtub Memory.

Buffett imagines his memory to be functioning like a bathtub. It’s filled with ideas, experiences, and matters that are important to him. Whenever he gets stuck with an unpleasant experience, whoosh the plug in the bathtub pops up and the unpleasant memory gets drained away.

For example, Alzheimer’s disease affected his mother and several others in his mother’s family. The unpleasant thought of getting Alzheimer’s disease would haunt him time and again. He used this technique to flush out this painful memory.

It helped Buffett free up enormous amounts of space for the new and productive. He thought of this as a tool that allowed him to “look forward” rather than “look backward”. It made him give 100% focus to things that matter to him.

My mind automatically runs this flowchart whenever I worry about something. I would ask myself if worrying about the problem helps me succeed in the current task. I would answer no. It helps me realize that focusing on the task at hand instead of worrying increases the odds of succeeding in the current task.

I might still fail on the current task by not worrying. But the worry path has zero chance of success. This flowchart is my version of Buffet’s bathtub memory. It helps me to minimize the share of mental capacity that worry gets.

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