"Recording" has three definitions in the Modern Chinese Dictionary (7th edition). As a verb, it means to write down what is heard or what has happened. As a noun, it can refer to the material recorded on the spot or the person who does the recording.
The focus of this article is on the verb form of "recording".
- We record every day
If someone asks me why I started recording, I would definitely answer that we actually record every day.
From the perspective of Buddhist philosophy, this is something I am familiar with.
In the basic concepts of Buddhism, there are six sense organs, six sense objects, and six consciousnesses. The six sense organs are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The six sense objects are color, sound, smell, taste, touch, and dharma. The six consciousnesses are the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and mental consciousness that arise when the sense organs come into contact with the sense objects. If we translate these three elements into modern language, the six sense organs are physiological organs, the six sense objects are the physical world, and the six consciousnesses are psychological functions. Together, they constitute the entire world that we can perceive.
The colors seen by the eyes are transmitted to our brains through visual cells, and after being recognized by the brain, they are expressed as the color names we have been taught. The same goes for hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.
If a child is taught from a young age that 🟥 is black and ⬛ is red, then that child will always refer to red as black and black as red throughout their life.
Is the child wrong? No, that's just how they were taught. The teaching about colors is recorded in their brain, which is what Buddhism refers to as dharma and consciousness.
Why do we know that the sound of an explosion is an explosion, and the sound of a train is a train? Why do we know that sugar is sweet and salt is salty? Why do we know that cotton is soft and steel is hard? It all comes from our records in the brain.
Expanding on this, emotions such as joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness also come from records in the brain.
Next, let's talk about the mechanism of memory. I have provided an image in my article "The Process of Memory". All the information we encounter has to go through the brain and be allocated to the hippocampus to determine whether it needs to be remembered.
The hippocampus determines whether the information is short-term memory or long-term memory based on how frequently the information appears (is stored or accessed). And the ability to make this judgment relies on recording.
Recording is something that happens every day, all the time. It's like the hard drive in a server that always needs to write data as long as it's not turned off, even if the data is as small as it can be.
- There are few downsides to recording
There are many benefits to recording, and few downsides. Of course, if we have to mention a downside, it would be the consumption of brain cells.
If we understand it a bit more, recording your daily physiological, psychological, and unconscious behaviors through the action of "recording" can bring many benefits, while the downsides can be ignored.
Firstly, recording is a response to life. Every time we record, whether it's writing a diary, taking photos, drawing, or using voice or video recording, it is an expression of our experience of a moment in life. This is not only a record of the external world, but also a reflection and understanding of our inner world. Recording gives us the opportunity to observe ourselves and our relationship with the environment more deeply, and to have a deeper understanding of life.
Secondly, recording is also a form of respect for life. When we start recording, regardless of the method, we are actually saying to every moment of life, "You are worth being preserved, you are worth being remembered." Our lives may be ordinary, eventful, exhausting, or joyful, but regardless of the state, recording allows us to see the value and meaning of life.
Thirdly, recording is a manifestation of love for life. What we record is our perception and feelings about life, our love and praise for life. Every recording is a deep reflection on life, a sincere love for life. Through recording, we can experience life more deeply and feel it more comprehensively.
Recording goes beyond these aspects. On a deeper level, recording is also a process of thinking and the evolution of ideas. When we record our thoughts and observations, we are actually engaging in deep thinking and pushing our thoughts forward and evolving.
When we record our thoughts, we are not just transforming them into words (images, audio, etc.), but more importantly, we are clarifying our thoughts and organizing our thinking process. Through recording, we can see our thinking path more clearly and understand what we are thinking about and why, and gain insights from this thinking process.
In addition, recording not only helps us capture moments of thinking, but also allows us to see the development and changes of our thoughts. Over time, our ideas will change, our perspectives will adjust, and our understanding will deepen. By reviewing past records, we can see the trajectory of our thoughts and the iteration of our thinking from the past to the present.
For most people, recording can also improve efficiency and productivity. By recording ideas, tasks, and projects, we can better organize our time and energy, and more effectively complete tasks and achieve goals. For creative work or tasks that require a lot of thinking, recording can help us clarify our thoughts and improve the quality of our thinking, thereby enhancing creativity.
- How to engage in long-term recording
Please note that I am talking about "how to engage in long-term recording" rather than "how to persist in long-term recording". There is a world of difference between the two.
As mentioned in the title, we record every day. Therefore, we don't need to persist in long-term recording. If something requires persistence and willpower, then it can be classified as something that doesn't need to be done.
Long-term recording is spontaneous and only requires conscious recording behavior, without the need for a strict marathon-like routine.
We just need to remember: "Become a person who observes and thinks continuously, and write down what you observe and think. Leave the rest to fate."
When the conditions are ripe, things will naturally fall into place.
For example, a clerk who writes a work journal every day will find it easy to write a weekly report. A student who has collected a lot of information and made extensive notes and summaries will find it easy to write a thesis. To put it more bluntly, even if you want ChatGPT to help you write an article, the more detailed prompts you give it, the more accurate its output will be.
As for the ways of recording, there are many options. Writing a diary irregularly, using the bullet journal method to record daily life, taking shorthand notes... as long as it can transform the present moment into a relatively long-term data encoding form that can be saved, use whatever method you prefer.
Recording is for becoming a better self, so don't put pressure on yourself.