From Winston Churchill to Mark Twain to Marcus Aurelius, some of the most influential thinkers and powerful people in the world have kept a regular journal.
I also keep a journal.
I therefore assume the link between journal writing and greatness is a direct causality and with each self reflective rambling I move one step closer to greatness.
But whether I become an emperor or not is besides the point, the point is that writing a journal is awesome.
Now if you’ve never kept one before, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Depending on your level of close mindedness and false perceptions of masculinity, your view of a journal could be the fluffy pink diary in which 13 year old Erica gushes about how the cute boy at school almost looked at her during lunch today. OMGZ!
But it’s not all Bieber stickers, ‘best friends 4 eva’ love hearts & glitter.
Writing a journal can be hugely beneficial for self development and self awareness. It is a place to capture your deepest thoughts, feelings and observations – unfiltered.
And that’s the beauty, you can say whatever the hell you want, however you want.
You don’t need to think about a catchy heading, witty quips or numbered lists. Nor do you need to hold your tongue, mince your words or be diplomatic.
If Sandra is being a scandalous slut then you can write a 36 page diatribe about how it makes you furiously angry but also slightly horny. If Stan in accounting has an annoying laugh that reminds you of a dying hyena, you can vent the hatred you have for him have for him for making you feel guilty about being so funny. Fuck you Stan!
Whatever you want.
It’s writing that’s purely for you.
It’s in this unfiltered expression that we find the real value. It allows us an outlet to express ourselves honestly. I reckon that’s pretty important.
If you constantly bottle everything up, the pressure builds and will eventually start to come out in weird ways. Kind of like when Homer tried to repress his rage…
Obviously we all need to express those deeper feelings from time to time, but that’s often very difficult to do with other people. It can be extremely uncomfortable and leave us feeling weak and vulnerable. It can also be super awkward for the people you share it with.
Let’s be honest, it’s going to be hard for your friend to hide his judgement of the 7 acrostic poems you wrote about that cute barista who always puts a smiley face on your coffee cup. Don’t put him in that position.
Whilst it is important to be able to share your thoughts and feelings with people, journalling gives you a private outlet without consequence.
It allows you to let your thoughts and feelings out completely unfiltered, without fear of judgement or reprise. It is in this act of baring all, that you find yourself making sense of things. Conflicting emotions & vague observations can clarify with each new word. The mere act of writing brings you toward a new understanding. Other times you end up with several pages of barely legible ramblings – the incoherent scrawls of a crazy man.
It is only when you reflect back over these old entries that you arrive upon the real self development benefits of writing a journal.
Sometimes intriguing, other times confronting and on occasion face-palmingly-embarrassing, re-reading your own unfiltered truths reveals patterns of thinking and behaviour that would otherwise be impossible to identify.
It provides an element of objectivity to your own self narrative.
Kind of like being your own therapist who, whilst being totally unqualified, often times drunk and a bit of a cunt, seems to just get you.
Many people never look back through their entries and that is also OK, there are no journal police. Do it however you want. But personally, I find that the occasional reflection is what helps me tie everything together.
In a way it is like reading my own personal history book.
Not quite packed with the witticisms of Churchill or Twain, or the insightfully pragmatic life advice of Marcus Aurelius, but something unique and personal to me.
So if you’ve thought about writing a journal before and haven’t started yet, just do it!
Open up a text doc and start writing. You won’t regret it.
Now it’s your turn. I’m curious… if you haven’t kept a journal before, what stopped you?
If you do keep a journal, do you reflect on old entries? If not, why not?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments or hit me on twitter at @theideavacuum