We like to believe that we’ll naturally remember what’s important to us.
“That brilliant idea that came to me in the middle of the night? No need to take notes. I’ll remember it in the morning.”
“That mistake I made again? Surely I’ll remember and know better next time.”
“And I’ll definitely not forget that inspiring, life-changing TED Talk by tomorrow.”
And we later reach into our trusty memory vault for these precious things, only to find that they’ve vanished—slipped through the cracks and gone with the wind.
One day, I reached a point where I’d had enough of this.
In my Today I Learned Journal, I’d been recording facts about the outside world. But I realized I had even more to hold onto…
My own life.
If you’re new to this blog:
The Today I Learned (TIL) Journal is a project I started to learn something new every day, and record it.
It’s a way to keep my memories safe and easily-accessible. This way, if I’m struck with forgetfulness, I have at least one memory from every day stored safely and organized by category in the journal.
I created a free template of the Today I Learned Journal in Notion. Feel free to use it and make it your own!
I was hesitant to add a “Remembering Life” category to my TIL Journal.
After all, it would feel like cheating to write down any mundane thing I experience as something I “learn.”
So I made a rule (more what you’d call “guideline” than an actual rule).
In order for an entry to be worthy of the journal in this subject, it must be:
• Whatever matters to me
• Whatever I don’t/won’t want to forget.
The TIL Journal isn’t just about acquiring and remembering knowledge anymore.
It’s about enriching your life and your memory with what really matters to you.
What Really Matters
Here are some examples of things you might want to include in your own TIL journal:
• a hilarious story or joke
• a pleasant moment with a loved one
• a moment you connected with a deep sense of awe, creativity, gratitude, inspiration, etc.
• a moment you were proud of yourself
• a mistake
– a moment you realized you messed up, and can admit it.
– could this become a funny story later on?
– could it become a mistake you learn from rather than just be humiliated by it?
• something sad
– like the death of a loved one, and how you responded to it. A moment of deep observation and contemplation. Of remembering the departed and realizing what you will miss about them, and what you’re grateful to have had. Grieving not just emotionally, but thoughtfully.
• A doctor’s visit, and the advice you received
• A crucial conversation/meeting, and its most important points
• Tracking your journey through a personal struggle
For example, I’ve found it helpful to record my bumps and victories along the road of dealing with my anxiety:
– What triggered a panic attack today?
– What techniques did I use to counter it? Were they helpful or not?
– What did I do despite the terrible fear of doing it? How did I manage it, and how did it go?
• high stress situations
• complicated experiences
• when your ability to concentrate/comprehend/remember is difficult
– “What can I write about my experience today that I might forget or get jumbled up later?”
Simply Nice to Know
You don’t always need to explain your reason for wanting to remember something.
If it matters, it matters.
How to Get Started
There is no rule for how you learn and write something here.
But here’s some questions to ask yourself if you’re feeling stuck on that blank page:
“What did I experience today?”
• “Why did this catch my attention?“
• “What can I learn from this?“
• “How did I respond?“
• “How did I feel in that moment?“
• “How did others act?“
• “What were my thoughts?“
• “What could I have done differently, and why?“
• “Why do I consider this worth remembering? Why is this important to me and my future memory?“
Check Your Lens
While writing these entries, you may find that it’s hard to grasp things you felt you knew.
And in moments that emotions were strong, the details of what happened can still be hazy.
You realize that memory isn’t the only issue here,
but also your attention from that moment.
It’s like taking a video, only to realize later that the lens had been smudged, your video blurred.
This means that we must constantly sharpen a valuable skill:
Pay attention to life
To that precious, present moment.
And pay attention well.
Ask yourself in the moment: “What am I experiencing?”
What do you want to learn today, and remember tomorrow?