Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.
This is how I’m journaling right now.
The reason I am committed to journaling every day is because I know that when I am finished, I am centered, I am calm and I am primed to do the actual daily work of living a meaningful life.
I’ve been reading a lot from authors who describe the way they journal. So this approach to journaling isn’t original to me. It’s cobbled from a few different virtual mentors of mine whose approaches I’ve been learning. I’ve been writing this way for a week or so.
For me, first thing in the morning is best for journaling. That isn’t always an option so choose any quiet moment throughout the day. To be thoughtful with this, you’ll need 15 minutes of vigorous writing or 30 minutes of contemplative writing.
Here’s how I’m journaling right now.
First, I Find My Six People (Every Day)
- Someone to love. Write the name of the person, and why you love them.
- Someone to thank. You could call this person to thank them. Or, just write their name down and why you’re thankful.
- Someone to be grateful for. It’s okay if they are dead or gone from your life.
- Someone to forgive. You don’t have to tell them. Or you could. The point is to just forgive and notice how it feels on the inside.
- Someone to forget. In other words, no need to be angry anymore. Maybe not forgetting, but definitely moving on, even if their actions were unforgivable.
- Someone to admire. Think of a person you can admire and/or emulate.
I learned this from James Altucher, and I think it’s great. I recommend his books Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself. In the seven days that I’ve been doing this, I never have run out of people to include. If anything, it’s hard to keep it short, but makes me look forward to the next day.
After I’ve found my six people, I move onto a different format.
The next three sections are designed get the hand writing something / anything down to stops things from going around and around in my head. The idea is to put things in perspective, to stop myself from obsessing and help me make sense of the day to day jumble of thoughts and feelings.
A. One sentence about the day that passed.
No time to elaborate. Keep the summary of your day before short and concise.
Thoughts and responses about the following:
B. Yesterday’s workout or food intake. I do this because I have a new fitness goal I seek to accomplish that requires the elimination of certain foods and gradual increases in weight training.
C. Notable occurrences
I’m finding that here is where I do a lot of bitching about shitty interactions I have with people that leave me feeling annoyed, angry, frustrated or hurt.
D. What I want to get better at
For example, the other day I wrote:
I want to get better at saying “No” to people who want favors from me that are, whether consciously or unconsciously, exploitative of my time, my resources and my capabilities because in doing so, I am stripping my ambition from myself and using for someone else, which is akin to me turning my back on myself.
E. Where I am succeeding?
You don’t have to respond to all of these prompts below. Some days I might only address one or two of them. On other days, I write thoughts for all of them. Here they are below.
F. Where am I standing in my own way?
G. What’s the smallest step I can take toward a big thing today?
H. What blessings can I count right now?
I. In what area of my life do I seek validation. Why?
J. What is the harder choice I’m avoiding?
K. Do I rule my fears, or do they rule me?
L. How will today’s difficulties show my character?
Credit to Ryan Holiday for this approach.
I’ve been journaling since 1994, mostly just for me, with words that don’t see the light of day. I feel it’s the most cost effective therapy I’ve ever found. Life is full of muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts – worries, jitters, and preoccupations. Why not put them on the page so you can face your day with clear eyes rather than slopping on others.