Want to a Quick, Easy Way to Preserve Happy Memories?

Many of my happiness-project activities are aimed at my resolution to Be a treasure house of happy memories. Studies show that thinking back on happy times elevates mood, and observing and preserving memories is one of the most satisfying ways of bringing order to life.

My mother started a memory-keeping tradition a few years ago that has proved to be a lot of fun.

She bought two matching lined journals, one for each granddaughter. At the end of every visit to Kansas City, my older daughter writes a paragraph about the highlights of our visit, and I write in my younger daughter’s book.

We’ve only been doing it since 2007, but already, we all enjoy looking back at the entries from past visits. It’s astounding how quickly even intense memories fade, and how effectively a brief note reminds us of highlights from the past – the time my daughter fell into the duck pond, the time my father set off the fire alarm when making pancakes, the time when my sister and her husband got locked in the bedroom.

(The fact that these mishaps are highlights proves the Secret of Adulthood that my mother taught me: "The times when things go wrong often make the best memories." Good to keep in mind.)

It’s also interesting to see my older daughter’s handwriting change, and to see how my younger daughter has gone from adding her scribbles to my note to being able to write her name.

Now, is this tradition a bit of a pain? Yes, it is. We procrastinate every visit, and usually end up writing in the notebooks in the last ten minutes before we leave for the airport. But now we all know that we’ll be glad to have the record, later. My mother wisely keeps the bar low -- all she asks for is four or five sentences. The perfect can be the enemy of the good, and if my mother pressed us for something more elaborate, or more neatly done, we might resist more energetically.

The one-sentence journal, the diary of days, and this trip journal are all quick, untaxing ways to keep memories vivid. I wouldn't be able to keep a long, detailed journal, but I can keep up with these other methods.

Have you found any good strategies to help keep happy memories vivid?

* Danielle LaPorte of the excellent White Hot Truth ("because self-realization rocks") was nice enough to do an interview with me. I wasn't surprised when her questions were surprising and thought-provoking.

* If the idea of keeping a one-sentence journal appeals to you, remember, that's one of the Tools in the Happiness Project Toolbox.

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