“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” ― Christina Baldwin
Remember when you used to write a journal every day in school? You used to write in your journal because it was a good way to get your thoughts on paper. Why did we stop doing that? I know for most of us guys, we never really wanted to put our feelings or our thoughts down on paper. The problem with putting our thoughts on paper usually makes the feelings real. Just like telling someone your thoughts and feelings about politics or disclosing to someone how you feel about them, it makes it more real. Journaling has that same effect but instead of looking at it in a negative way, we look at it in a positive way.
Everything that you see that I’m doing now–writing my blog, “Living in the moment like my three-year-old”, participating in thirty-day challenges, all of it stems from journaling. If we rewind the tape to 18 months ago, I had just started journaling. I got some advice to start journaling because it was a good way to get your thoughts on paper. To get your thoughts outside of your head. If you know me, you know that I’m an overthinker. I think about almost every possibility and every scenario before I act. Most people would say that that’s a good thing because you’re being thoughtful and you think about your actions before you do them, but for me, it was actually a negative because I would get lost in my thoughts. Not only would I get lost in my thoughts, I would lose sleep because of those thoughts.
Now let’s be honest… these weren’t positive or negative thoughts only, they were just things that I was thinking about. These things could be anything from the micro (right now), like what I was going to have for dinner that night or for breakfast the next day. The macro (future), where I think about where my kids are going to go to daycare or what college they are going to go to. Yes, I know that sounds crazy seeing as my kids are under four years old, but I actually was thinking about where they’re going to go to college. Yes, that would keep me up at night because it is one of the most important decisions as parents we can help them make as children. But I digress back to why I started journaling.
“This pouring thoughts out on paper has relieved me. I feel better and full of confidence and resolution.” ― Diet Eman, Things We Couldn’t Say
The brightest and most successful people in the world journal and they also meditate. If you’ve been following along you know that I started meditating about the same time I started journaling. I would meditate and then I would journal afterward. If you want to read more about meditating and why I do it check out this post. Since William was born the meditating has taken a back seat but journaling is the thing that has stuck. What works best for me is to journal five days a week and skip weekends. That’s just what works for me because when I wake up in the mornings on the weekends, it’s time with my boys.
I skip the weekends because they’re up before me usually and I don’t have time for it. It’s an excuse but at the end of the day you’ve got to find things that work for you that you’ll always do. Again, I digress back to the a.m. journals. Tim Ferris says he likes to journal because it keeps his monkey mind at bay. I agree with this because we all have many thoughts throughout the day and we just don’t have enough time to get to them all. For me, the biggest thing is I know I need to journal because of all the thoughts stop me from doing the things that I have to do. This is a way for me to keep on task. Journaling in the morning gets all the things that I’ve been thinking about overnight down on paper. All the things that I should be doing in the day. All the things that I should be doing for work. Think about all the things that I just listed. Does anybody have enough time in the day to think about that and get things done? Not at all. These are my unconscious thoughts that are weighing on my decision-making, weighing on your decision-making, I found a way not to think about them.
“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do” – Tim Ferriss
Like I said, someone like me who overthinks things this really helps get my ideas out. Now I might not meditate every day anymore but I still journalling every day. It’s about 5 to 10 minutes worth of writing in the morning while sipping on my lemon water and or coffee. Everything that I just explained about getting my thoughts out there on paper, clearing my head, calming my monkey mind, takes up the first third of my journal each day.
The second third of the journal, and honestly the most important is the middle third of the journal where I pick five things that I am grateful for. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, why does that matter? Well, think about it, when s*#% hits the fan when things are not going your way when everything feels like life is stacked against you. It doesn’t seem all bad because you remember what you’re grateful for. Being able to think back on all the things that you’re grateful for, truly grateful for, makes those negative things not seem so bad. Think about it…if you get in a car accident well maybe you’re grateful that you’re still alive. Maybe you’re grateful that you get to get a new car because the old one was a piece of crap. If you know me this can sound like a glass half-full, an attempt to make positives out of a negative take on things which it is to a point. But the bad moments in life don’t seem so bad when you can recognize the things that are going right now. I usually pick 3 to 5 things that I am grateful for. Usually, there is simple as being grateful for my family having a roof over our heads having food on our table. That’s what I am grateful for. As long as I have those things, nothing else matters in my life. Nothing is as bad as it seems.
The final third of my journal is usually a little mantra to remind myself of some things that I’m working on personally. I’m gonna share a few of those things with you now because I think that it’s worthwhile. The one thing that I always write every single morning is “be in the moment”. Now those of you that know me know that I might not always be good at that but that’s why I tell myself every single morning to practice being in the moment. The second part I’ve also changed and a little bit which is these days I tell myself to be aware of how my actions are being perceived. Now, it’s your turn. Start journaling today. You’ll thank me later!