Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be an extremely powerful tool. I find it helps me gain clarity on my ideas and current challenges. I also like looking back over my previous journals to see what I was thinking about say 5 or 10 years ago. I even found an old journal I had back when I was 14 years old. Wow! did that ever help me gain some perspective on my previous self.
As it turns out I’m in good company. Many famous people past and present have used journaling to ease there life’s journey. Your journal can act as a mirror to your thoughts much like a best friend but without the filter of their own issues. How many friends actually listen to you fully without waiting for you to finish before they interupt your flow to tell you about their latest and greatest? (or maybe I just need some new friends?)
Henry David Thoreau was an avid journaler.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” Henry David Thoreau
I’ll bet he wrote this one in his journal first. Then recognized the power of it and simplified it before publishing.
“Men are born to write… Whatever he beholds or experiences, comes to him as a model and sits for its picture.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Virginia Wolf started her diary in 1915 and wrote daily until 1941 just four days before her death. Maya Angelou, Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill all famous for their prodigious note taking and journaling. There’s even some Modern day Journal keepers like Barack Obama,
In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are. The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions. Barack Obama
Years ago I distinctly remember reading about Richard Branson carrying a notebook with him nearly everywhere he went. The article went on to say how he kept a separate room filled with his old notebooks (chronicled). And let’s not forget the famed fictional character Carrie Bradshaw who brought daily journaling into the modern age.
And lastly, Aristotle Onassis the famed Greek shipping Tycoon had this to say…
“Always carry a notebook. Write everything down. When you have an idea, write it down. When you meet someone new, write down everything you know about them. That way you will know how much time they are worth. When you hear something interesting, write it down. Writing it down will make you act upon it. If you don’t write it down you will forget it. THAT is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!”
With or without these great role models I’ve been journaling since I can remember. I love looking at my past entries and I often glean new insights from old scribbles. I can see a pattern of thoughts and emotions that were important to me in my twenties, thirties and forties and where these insights have led me.
I think it’s fascinating to look at our lives from 10 years ago with the knowledge, experience and wisdom of our older self. It shows how far we’ve come and how much we’ve changed… hopefully for the better.
If you haven’t been a big journal keeper up until now I would suggest you start with just a small notebook and start ‘writin’. A few little entries each day or each week and see where your thoughts take you.
You never know, you might have a book in you yet!