Our memory for events is influenced by the language we use. When we talk about a past occurrence, we can describe it as ongoing (I was running) or already completed (I ran).
To investigate whether using these different wordings might affect our mood and overall happiness, Will Hart of the University of Alabama conducted four experiments in which participants either recalled or experienced a positive, negative, or neutral event.
They found that people who described a positive event with words that suggested it was ongoing felt more positive. And when they described a negative event in the same way, they felt more negative.
The authors conclude that one potential way to improve mood could be to talk about negative past events as something that already happened as opposed to something that was happening.
Forthcoming in Psychological Science