It's not journaling. It's listing.
This simple act can create magic! Auto-biographical list-making is a pathway to rediscovering fun and poignant memories, visualizing dreams for the future, and keeping a record of books, films, music, and all your other experiences that made you who you are today.
If I asked you to list "memorable objects inside your childhood home," or the "places you've lived," a colorful assortment of memories would surface that are unique to you. It's your LISTOGRAPHY. I have been creating lists for years and I began to notice that most of them were autobiographical in nature. I would often come across a memory and tell myself "I've really got to write that down" before it's gone.
Making a list augments your brain's storage capacity. If it's in a list, then it's never lost. And once you've started the list, it's easy to add to over the years.
A completed list on, let's say, "songs that remind you of loves from your past" might bring up feelings and memories in the unique way a photograph can and sometimes even more so. I can't make a list on "my favorite games from childhood" without remembering what it was like to hit the white cubes nervously out of the "Don't Break The Ice" game or my neighbor's dad conducting "Simon Says." So autobiographical listing can ignite our memory. All of these pieces make a map of who we are: a LISTOGRAPHY.
Even a "to do" list can be autobiographical. I've used practical lists over the years to help inspire me and remind me to get things done. Making a list of "all the countries I want to visit" reveals a lot about me and helps encourage me to make it happen.
Some lists memorialize. I once made a list of "things I don't want to forget about my grandma." As I sat there thinking of things to list, I remembered much about her that might have slipped away.
People often think of lists as boring to do lists or grocery lists. Not so! List making can help you reimagine your life, make changes, and alter brain chemistry. If you make a list of "what you are most grateful for," or your "favorite things to smell," or your "happiest memories," your emotions will shift.
I also used lists to get me through difficult times, like losing my father. I wanted to stay present and so . . . I made lists. I made lists on "my favorite memories with my father" along with all the details about his life he shared with me. I made lists on "things we said or did during our last couple months together," like watching Good Times reruns. And after he passed, I made lists about "what I need to do next" so I didn't remain stagnant. Lists helped me to get things done so I could move forward. Placing things in lists reassured me that it wouldn't be forgotten and gave me comfort that I could revisit these experiences. The next set of lists I wrote after my father's passing were about my future––"what my goals were" and "places I might live"––lists that propelled me forward. As my father said, "you've got only so many years...enjoy them."
My mother's passing was another destabilizing event. A few weeks before I lost my mother to cancer, she said to me, "I am really going to miss eating a piece of toast." This moment has remained with me as a gift from her. I regularly remind myself to appreciate the beauty of little things and to view my time here with greater perspective--which is hard to keep sight of sometimes, so I make lists: lists on "things I love," "things that make me laugh," or "days I would relive again."
I started making lists when I was young and I discovered how much fun lists can be. I was remembering the past but I also became a collector of experiences. I love adding to my lists, especially when I visit a new city, see a film, or discover a new pet peeve!
Many of us don't have the time or inclination to write an autobiography, so I created the LISTOGRAPHY books, and listography.com, to help capture all the experiences that make up a life in easy and sweetly CURATED list topics. I've rediscovered many lost memories by making lists, all while creating a beautiful map of my experiences here on earth.
My mission is to inspire how you think about your life: where you've been and where you're going.
What a mystery it is to all be here together on this amazing planet. I hope you have a good life collecting the many wonderful elements of human experience--including a nice piece of toast!
LISTOGRAPHY comes in both book and web form.
Your life is unique. Now, make some lists about it . . .