Little moments

Me and Molly have a Jar of Awesome. And I made the first contribution to it yesterday. Don’t know what a Jar of Awesome is? Here’s Tim Ferriss’ description from Tools of Titans:

“There is a mason jar on my kitchen counter with JAR OF AWESOME in glitter letters on the side. Anytime something really cool happens in a day, something that made me excited or joyful, doctor’s orders are to write it down on a slip of paper and put it in this mason jar. When something great happens, you think you’ll remember it 3 months later, but you won’t. The Jar of Awesome creates a record of great things that actually happened, all of which are easy to forget if you’re depressed or seeing the world through gray-colored glasses. I tend to celebrate very briefly, if at all, so this pays dividends for weeks, months, or years.”

It’s a way to help you focus on appreciation instead of achievement, as Ferriss puts it. 

I also do what’s called morning pages, along with meditation, as part of my morning ritual. It’s three handwritten pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. And as part of my evening ritual, I’ve been trying to do a review of the day in the same format. Nothing fancy or complicated. I just ask myself, “What happened today? What did I do and who did I do it with? Was today a good day? What could, or would, I do differently?”

These two things—the Jar of Awesome and morning and evening journal sessions—have made me realise something: it’s really hard to focus on the small things. 

When we look back over our lives, over the past day, week, year, it is only the big things that stand out. The huge events. The monuments and milestones that define our life and story. But we forget about the millions of moments surrounding these events and milestones. 

This bias in our recollections affects how we interpret the present and consider the future. Because when we look back we only recall the big, we only appreciate the big now and in the future. So if today, like most days, doesn’t contain some cataclysmic event, it seems insignificant. We equate not making a big leap forward with not moving forward at all. Despite the fact that a life is built from the tiny shards and fragments that are accumulated over a long period.

The Jar of Awesome and journaling promote the opposite. Most days, big things don’t happen. So to maintain the practises, you’re forced to hone in on the small things. First, to perceive, and second, to appreciate the little moments. The seconds. The fleeting feelings. The tiny wins. The things that, in a world de-sensitised to subtlety and nuance, have ceased to be valued by the majority. These practises force you to see the substance from which a life, an existence, is actually made. They compel you to see that the little moments of life are more numerous, and more significant, than the great moments of achievement.