Most people (myself included) have started and stopped a journal or a diary quite a few times over the course of their lives. The idea of a personal log sounds romantic, but in our hectic lives, it’s hard to sit down and etch out your day in so many words. But what about just one sentence a day?
The suggestion comes via Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. In her latest podcast on happiness, she suggests people write one sentence a day — think of it as a personal tweet or CliffNotes encompassing the last 24 hours. For those of you that think one sentence a day may be too little to help manage a day full of things, Rubin claims it’s just enough. Take it from her — she has been keeping a one-sentence journal for over a decade.
When I look back on it, you know, years later, like that one sentence really does keep memories vivid.
Rubin believes that reliving these daily moments can help make us happier people, and keeping a one-sentence journal is an accessible way to do that. What’s more, recent research suggests it will make you happier. Writing about personal experiences, as the New York Times reported, improves mood disorders, boosts memory, and even reduces the number of doctors visits a person makes.
As she explains in her Big Think interview, Rubin sees happiness as an elusive concept. There are 15 different academic definitions of happiness, so rather than achieve a specific kind of happiness, take small, concrete steps toward feeling happier:
“Even people who deny the possibility of being happy, if you say do you think you could be happier? They’ll say, ‘Yeah, I could be happier.’ Sometimes I think it’s easier to think about being happier, for whatever that means to you then worrying about what is happiness and what would life be if I finally achieved this ultimate happiness?”
Melissa Dahl from NYMag confirms this idea in a recent article. She wrote about how her grandmother keeps a daily journal with just a few lines of text, and she’s amazed at how she can flip to a page and remember things with such clarity. Dahl writes:
“Often, when the family is together, she’ll dig out one of her old journals and tell us what she and various other family members were doing on a random day, in, say, 1994. I’ve always been amazed at how interesting these little moments are in retrospect.”
Listen to more on Gretchen Rubin’s website.