The days are long, but the years are short.
I’ve only kept a journal twice in my life. The first time I was 9 and wrote all my deepest desires that a 9 year old would have in a diary that I kept under my pillow. My cousin discovered it once and I was mortified. Even though most of my entries involved pleas to the Diary God to convince my parents to get me a puppy or how I interacted with my grade 4 crush that day, it still scarred me enough to never make anything tangible of my secrets and keep them all in my head where they were safe.
The next time I would reach for a journal would be almost 20 years later. I came across The Happiness Project’s One-Sentence Journal and liked the practicality of it, that all I had to do was write down what happened that day in one sentence. It was easy and noncommittal, unlike a traditional journal where I felt pressured to write lengthy entries of self-reflection and leave my thoughts completely vulnerable (blogging, by the way, is very different because I know people are reading!)
So I ordered myself a copy of the One-Sentence Journal and started journaling my days on January 1, 2015. The concept was quite simple: there’s a page for each day of the year and on that day I’d write down what I did. I’d continue on until eventually a new year begins and I go back to the January 1 page, where I add an entry for 2016 under my 2015 entry. This continues on for five years and eventually you have five years worth of entries detailing what you did every single day.
I keep my journal right beside our bed so I can write in it every night before I go to sleep. When I travel or am away from home for an extended period of time, I’ll keep entries on my phone and write them in my journal when I get back. It’s been the easiest daily habit I’ve ever picked up.
But what began as a fun project has turned into something more. When I first began my entries I’d write about very trivial things, like what I had for dinner or me being annoyed about something at work. Things that even when I look back two weeks later I can’t remember the context or what exactly it was that made it the most important thing I had to write about that day.
So as I continued journaling, my entries soon became more focused and memorable. True, there were some slow Mondays where my dinner was the most exciting thing that happened that day but there was always some aspect of it that stood out. Maybe I tried a new recipe from a Jamie Oliver YouTube video. Or maybe I burnt the hell out of a sauce and had to start over again. There was always something, even in a task as routine as making dinner, to make you remember that exact moment a month, a year, or two years later.
Every night when I’m journaling, I’ll read my past entries for the day. There were some moments since January 1, 2015 that I can remember without a journal prompt (vacations, our wedding, birthdays, when I launched my first business), but reading back on the last 985 days makes me realize that life is made up so much more of the smaller moments of burnt curry, discovering a new song you can’t stop listening to, or a catch up with an old friend. Of family BBQs on a Sunday afternoon, finding that perfect pair of jeans you’ve been looking for, or hanging up that picture frame you’ve been meaning to get to for months. These passing memories that have to be captured and written down to stay vivid because they can all too easily be forgotten.
“Make each day memorable” doesn’t mean you have to go out and do something life-changing every day. I actually think it’s much simpler than that. I write in my journal every day so I can remember the big and little events that make up the whole of my life.
This daily habit has turned into so much more than writing into a journal–it has made me cherish every day moments that were once seemingly routine. I can’t recommend the One-Sentence Journal enough. Make today a memorable day 🙂