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How I am Using Roam Journaling, Spaced Repetition, and Active Recall to Be Happier

Last Updated: ย 
March 1, 2021
Published On: ย 
October 17, 2020

Summer 2020 was a whirlwind of life-changing circumstances that involved me losing my job, experiencing a separate, sudden major financial disruption, and becoming a temporary caregiver to my parents when my father suffered a severe medical emergency.

This project explores how I combined the principles of spaced repetition and active recall with journaling in Roam Research to catch and disrupt a traumatic cycle of thinking and create new pathways for happiness to emerge in my life.

I have been journaling for most of my life and had a serendipitous moment when I discovered that Roam fit my style of thinking and writing and completely elevated the way that I am able to both take notes and link thoughts together.
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A small selection of the many paper journals that just don't get read and reviewed enough...or ever.

One of the major Summer themes in Lightyear Leadership is to create positive Summer memories that become the spiritual food that nourishes us in darker seasons.

I align my attention to the seasons as much as possible because it gives me a greater appreciation for the passing of time. Aligning with the natural rhythms of the world helps me feel complete and whole.

The Summer started off nice. I had found a groove in pandemic life and was ready to start making the Summer Memories and then. . .

I lost my job. It was a sudden end to a 14-year career, and the swiftness felt brutal. ย 

Alongside the business shutting down I discovered a payroll entry error that caused a significant amount of money to be added to my tax bill so it felt like a double whammy right out the door.

And then the next week, my father, who has always been a pillar of strength in taking care of several family members, had a heart attack and ended up having an emergency triple by-pass. He lost the vision in his left eye and was unable to do much of anything for more than a month.

The combination of everything basically put me in survival mode, which was helpful in becoming a caretaker for my parents, who were now both disabled to a large degree and needed that kind of fervent support. ย 

The effect of the trauma though was that everything became filtered through this survival response and it created a feedback loop where my current conditions would resurface past traumas and it would build and build until I'd be overwhelmed.

That fear and overwhelm became the dominant system of thinking in my brain.

It was much like Sisyphus trying to push his rock up the hill, I felt like I was struggling against the tide my own thoughts.

Some of my ways of dealing with trauma are to meditate and move my body, and journaling is a powerful way to get an external picture of what's going on in my mind.

I was working my way through Nat Eliason's Course - Effortless Output In Roam and started to do my daily journaling in Roam. As I played around with linking ideas and thoughts, I discovered that Roam was perfect for this task of helping me create, store, and retrieve positive memories. ย 

I write in my journal daily and as I review my journal to scan for different moods and reflect on what's happened, I tag certain blocks with #[[๐ŸŒž Summer Memory]] (or whichever season is in flavor at the moment.)

I tag photos, descriptions of events I've attended, or other positive memories, sometimes even project notes that I feel strongly connected to.

This gives me a quick and easy way to pull all of those memories into a collection and review a stream of positive memories.

As I review my journals I have found that there are FAR MORE things I consider a positive memory than I can actively recall, whether it's about the previous day, week, or month.

So as I'm reviewing my positive memory stream I start to pull memories into a more condensed collection, something like a memory box. I have memory boxes for events with special loved ones, travel, or tied to a specific time period.

I then take those memories and turn some of them into active recall questions. I'll nest the answer below so it can be hidden. Sometimes I'll just omit a few keywords and make it more of a fill in the blank response.

Then I'll take that whole collection and send its parent page on a journey into my future using Roam's ฮ” feature.

Now as I progress through the year I am met with little packages designed to make me actively recall my positive memories. These memories are also mostly block references to the specific journal entries, so it's easy to expand on those memories to further strengthen them.

I am interested to see how this changes my brain over time as these memories are made more solid instead of falling off of the forgetting curve.

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