You squint your eyes as you look at your lit up screen then hit that dismiss button; roll out of bed for a shower; grab some breakfast; find your way to the office; work for the first two hours; pretend to work for the rest of the day; find your way back to your house (have some dinner outside with friends if you’re lucky); set that alarm as you prepare yourself to sleep; doze off. Repeat.
For the most of us, we only get to remember some highlights of our day. Some don’t even remember much of their day at all (probably because they spent all their hours in an endless scroll of social media feed or too much screen time on their mobile games in between workloads). Whatever the reason, we often end our day wondering how we spent it (or wasted it).
In some of our engagements, we even appear too distracted (mostly to our mobile devices) to be in the moment with those around us.
Have we just let our lives waste away that we don’t try to remember much of it? If the average life expectancy is approximately 73 years old*, then a 25 year-old person now only has 17,520 days** to live the most of life while a 50 year-old person has 8,395 days** remaining. With this knowledge in mind, would you live your life differently? How many hours of our lives have we wasted and how many days did we just allow to pass us by? What is it that really matter to us in this short life?
If you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
I want to share to you a list of things that might help you remember more and help you appreciate the brevity of life.
Our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by … not paying attention?Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Have you ever experienced a time where you are so self-absorbed that all you think is yourself and in effect forget that you are a part of something bigger than yourself? A lot of times I have and only in moments of realization I get to observe that whenever I dissociate myself from the environment I am in, everything is muted while the whole experience is drained out of its worth.
Imagine you are in a group discussion where at the same time, you are constantly going through your mobile devices. While everyone in the group is so into the conversation and get to laugh at a funny moment you were not able to hear (because you were mindlessly scrolling your feed), recognizing a jovial laugh makes you ask them what they were laughing about. Not only did you miss the exact moment when the joke/pun/whatever-laughing-matter was still starting to light up everyone’s brains, you also missed the moment of being actually there and get to laugh with them.
In this distracted world of social connectivity, paying attention becomes an invaluable skill. I admit there have been a lot of meetings where I did not stop myself from grabbing my phone and started going through social media instead. Have you done the same thing too? The next thing we know is that we’ve attended a meeting we never knew much about. The solution? We must choose to pay attention in all engagements we will be in. If it would take us to keep our mobile devices from our reach (or even turn them off), then we must do so with intent.
Observing all the subtle details of our environment also allows us to be in the moment. Have you ever noticed the new haircut of your coworker or the new shop at the corner of the street? So while you are teaching yourself how to remember your day – pay attention!
Memory is like a spiderweb that catches new information. The more it catches, the bigger it grows. And the bigger it grows, the more it catches.Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
It is really easy to zone out wherever and whenever when you don’t participate in the engagements you are in. When you are so lost in your thoughts to notice anyone around you or too distracted to pay attention and remember how your day went, you seem to float through the day as you end up barely remembering what you did the whole time. The moment someone asks you what you did yesterday, you might begin to ask yourself (like I do often times), “I forgot how I spent my day yesterday“.
It amazes me that we could actually be just a spectator of our own lives like watching a movie and just waiting for things to happen. But life is not just about letting things unfold before our eyes. We are not called for to just exist but we are called for to live our lives out; not just by responding to any stimuli but also be the cause of things. I would like to quote from David Graeber:
…the foundational “pleasure at being the cause” remains, as it were, the unstated ground of our being.Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
A human being unable to have a meaningful impact on the world ceases to exist.
So how to remember what you did the whole day? Be involved, engage! Because if you don’t participate in life, you eventually cease to exist. While doing so, you might find happiness in the process of acquiring more memories.
The more we remember, the better we are at processing the world. And the better we are at processing the world, the more we can remember about it.Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Was there a moment in your life where you are physically present but at the same time nowhere there? I think we can all relate to this in which the most common case is through mobile distraction.
It happened one time when I was out for lunch with my sister that a family across us was barely talking at all. The father was on his mobile phone, so as the mother, and their two sons each on their mobile phones too! If you get to think of it, they may not remember that specific lunch they had together as a family but only the separate virtual worlds they have spent their time with while together.
If you want to remember the moment you spent with your parents, your lover, your friend, (name all relationships you can think of) while at a gathering or any kind of event, you must make it a point to be actually there. As human beings, we consist of memories and remembering is our great friend in processing the world we are living in.
People are like a breath; their lives are like passing shadows.
Psalm 144:4 NCV
You squint your eyes as you look at your lit up screen then hit that dismiss button; roll out of bed for a shower; grab some breakfast; find your way to the office; work for the first two hours; pretend to work for the rest of the day; find your way back to your house (have some dinner outside with friends if you’re lucky); set that alarm as you prepare yourself to sleep.
But this time, because you have paid attention throughout the day, engaged with your surroundings, and decided to be actually present, you now doze off with a smile. You can now tell yourself that it has been a good, memorable day. Acknowledging that your days are numbered in this short life, you now look forward to remember more and make the most of your life in the coming days.
- Pay attention. This has become a valuable skill in this distracted age and observing all the subtle details of our environment allows us not just to be in the moment but remember the moment too! Good things are in the details.
- Engage. When we don’t allow ourselves to be a cause of something, we rob ourselves the pleasure of being alive. And as we cease to exist, so is our ability to remember. It sure is important to be a part of something in this lifetime.
- Be present. We create memories and be remembered by them. If we decide to be present everyday, remembering everything we can, we process the world better.
* The average life expectancy was computed as the average of the life expectancy by country data sourced from http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/life-expectancy/ .
** Computation was done with the assumption that there are 365 days in a year.
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