Most commentary on the explosion of social media and tedious micro-blogging has been negative: we’ve become a generation of over-sharers, we’re over documenting our lives rather than experiencing them.
But recent research suggests that you should NOT delete your tumblr or deactivate your Twitter. A recent article in Psychology Today reminds us all to both document and embrace the ordinary. As the author, Dr. Amie Gordon says,
Even when it seems silly, or not worth it, take the time to record the seemingly unmemorable moments in your life. The future you will be grateful.
In a series of studies by Zhang et al. (2014), the authors find that we derive joy from reliving records of the past, in the form of rediscovery, and that people systematically underestimate the value of rediscovering the past. They find that individuals underestimate the extent to which rediscovering past experiences will be thought-provoking and interesting in the future. Additionally, the authors found that people find pleasure in rediscovering ordinary, mundane experiences, not just extraordinary ones. Furthermore, a final study demonstrated that ordinary events are perceived as much extraordinary over time.
Some tips on how to document your ordinary life include taking a photo a day, write “a day in the life” posts, or keep a journal. One website called the 365 project helps facilitate the photo-a-day challenge. Dr. Gordon states that “a day in the life” blog posts are her favorites to read, and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. For inspiration, A Cup of Jo did a feature called Motherhood around the World, where mothers documented their seemingly mundane lives to contrast with those of other cultures.
Who knew that those Instagram posts about what you ate for breakfast might bring you happiness after all.
…There is magic in the ordinary. It is the ordinary among us after all who make the world go round, who live quietly graceful lives, and who, when heroes are needed, step forward to make a difference…
[Roberta Gately, Huffington Post]
[all Instagram photos are my own]