Keeping a Journal Can Help You Become the Person You Were Created to be


To understand me you need to understand something called journaling.

I used to talk to myself. All the time. Sometimes I would let it slip that I had been talking to myself about something while I had been in my car, for example. The people I was talking to would look around quickly, like I had just said I was Batman.

“I guess that’s ok, as long as you don’t talk back.”

Before I went to Bosnia for the first time, someone very wise suggested I start writing my thoughts in a journal. So I went to Office Depot and picked up a spiral-bound, paperback notebook. I think it must have cost $1.

I started writing down just anything I could think of — thoughts about my teammates, thoughts about going to Bosnia, thoughts about finishing college. I didn’t know how to keep a journal, and I didn’t know why; nobody had told me that. I just knew that someone really smart had said it was a good thing to do.

Within weeks, I noticed that I was driving in silence. I had nothing to say anymore — anything I would want to say was already written down in my journal. 

Journaling Doesn’t Make You Smarter

At first, I thought I was somehow enlightened. I thought I had arrived. But I soon realized that I was nothing special; I started noticing that lots of people journal. I started noticing lots of blogs around the internet about it, too. Intellectuals journal. Singers journal. Regular people journal, too. It’s nothing new.

So, what I first thought would be a fairly highbrow activity turned out to be something that the masses generally already knew about. I thought I was being an innovator, but I was really just a late adopter.

Journaling Will Help You Think.

Sometimes I show my journal to my therapist, but other than that, nobody reads what I write. That makes me completely free. My journal is like the one place where I am free to say whatever I want, with no repercussions. No one will get angry if I write something about them. Nobody will ever say, “why did you write that?”

And that’s the way it should be.

With such freedom, the writer is free to put things down on paper and see how they look. It’s a sort of filter for your thoughts, in the most private of venues. It is one place that enables you to think deeply about the things you think about.

Few People Think About What They Think About.

This statement isn’t original with me. But this is a good and profitable saying: few people think about the things they think about. Journaling gives you the chance to do just that. So, in this one way, I suppose it can make you smarter, because you will be able to be part of a very small subset of society. You will begin to have thoughts that go deeper than your original thoughts. And that is where you’ll find out about your longings and fears, your hopes and dreams — all things waiting to be discovered just underneath the things you think that you are thinking about all day long.

Your Journal Is Forever

You can keep your journals, if you wish, and come back to them years later. This is a great thing. It will allow you to see how you’ve evolved over seasons of life. You’ll be able to go back to important dates years ago and remember just what you were dealing with, what was troubling you, what was making you happy. And it will enable you to keep on thinking about the things you think about.

Journaling Is For Everyone

You don’t have to be a good writer in order to journal. You just have to have a brain. That means that just about everyone on earth can benefit in some way from journaling. For me, the most immediate benefit was that it helped me have an outlet for all the pent up thoughts and nervous energy that I kept stored up in my mind. But since then, I’ve been able to write down my thoughts about people, conflicts, joy, disappointment, and momentous occasions, and look at them. I’ve been able to get to the bottom of countless issues, just because I wrote down what I was thinking. And that, on some occasions, has been a treasure worth more than gold.

So if you’ve gotten to this last paragraph, I encourage you to go out there and spend your $1. Loosen your grip on a dollar bill and buy a cheap notebook and a pen. It will improve your life. I promise.

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