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One Minute Writing One Sentence Every Day Will Make You Happier


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Jessica Stillman of Inc explains the single sentence journal:

People are actually pretty bad at guessing which recollections will bring them the most joy.

Everyday events, it turns out, make us far happier to remember than we expect. So while a simple coffee date with an old friend or a night in cooking for your better half might not seem worth remembering, thinking back on these simple occurrences actually can bring us great pleasure later on.

The question, then, is what to do with this insight. Author Gretchen Rubin has a simple but powerful suggestion, which she shared recently in her Happier podcast. It’s a super-easy habit that can help us squeeze extra enjoyment out of the small, everyday details we usually just forget. 

It’s called a single sentence journal, and it’s pretty much just what it says on the tin.

A Journal You Can Actually Keep:

“All you do is write one sentence a day,” Rubin says. “If you’re like me and like many people, you are sort of periodically swept up in this desire to keep a journal.” But those fantasies of devoting lots of time to recording deep thoughts and in-depth recollections usually founder on a simple reality: Keeping such a long-form journal is really time consuming.

The solution? Keep the journal idea, but ditch the length and write down just a sentence or two each day to record your most prominent memories. You might think such short entries aren’t enough to make any difference in your life, but Rubin insists that this idea is both manageable and impactful. “One sentence is enough. When I look back on it years later, that one sentence really does keep memories vivid—it really does bring back the past—which is one of the things you really want a journal to do,” she says.

As science suggests, those memories are bound to make you happier than you expect, but Rubin also notes that “we tend to write down the happier things,” which also focuses the mind on the positive aspects of life, boosting joy with very little effort.

You can journal about any aspect of your life—including your work—or nothing in particular and still reap rewards. Just make sure you keep your journal somewhere handy to make recording that short recollection of your day super-convenient, avoiding any excuse to skip days.

Try the idea out. It’s so simple, why not?

One sentence. Every day.

but then comes the problem of limiting yourself to just one sentence!

i used to write for something called 100 words.  it was writing exactly 100 words a day and keeping it posted in a public log.  but even the 100 words became demanding.  and the hardest part was editing it down to 100 words.  like most journals, i didn't last longer than three months.

the thing is, not only are journals time-consuming to write, they are time-consuming to read!  is the more mature version of myself really going to care about my current deep insights? i have boxes of old journals that i probably ought to toss because it bores me to read what i wrote.

i guess a single sentence might be a good alternative to every other journaling attempt i've made.

Yeah, limiting yourself to just one sentence means you really have to choose your words wisely.

But think about the benefit: You can read a whole month in just 30 sentences!

It also helps for planning your day: What do I want my one sentence to be today?

Think of it as one tweet per day. 

Interesting!

I've been studying the concept of nostalgia for a start-up I'm involved in. Interestingly the word nostalgia was used originally in the concept of being a disease. But in fact there is something emotionally gratifying about thinking about the past.

I agree that it's more gratifying than disease-like! :)

nostalgia IS very interesting.  i've been thinking about it a lot lately as i unpack my things from storage.  it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy to remember our lives.  i think it's because our memories are safe, unlike the future which is unknown.  the memory is a good story, even if it didn't feel good at the time, and we learned from it, which is special too.  in the end, i think the story and its lesson is all that matters.

Well said, Emily.

In the end, I think we become the stories we tell. That's why the lesson matters so much. 

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