Four years ago my sister got me something that would dramatically alter the direction of my life.
In fact, it was probably the most influential gift I’ve ever received.
It would help me find my true calling, become a writer at the Huffington Post, and go on a 5-month road trip across America by myself.
You know what it was?
One of these…
A freaking journal.
Here’s 4 Life-Changing Benefits Of Daily Journaling
You’d think that sitting down and putting pen to paper wouldn’t be that life-changing of a practice.
But trust me, without it you wouldn’t be reading this. I wouldn’t have 21,000 followers — heck, I wouldn’t even be on Medium.
So if journaling helped me build a big audience online, what can it help you do?
In this article you’ll learn four things..
- Why journaling’s the secret to not getting angry/upset much anymore.
- How it can show you why certain strategies work and don’t work.
- How writing can teach you to be more “present” in your everyday life.
- How journaling will help you become incredibly self-aware (the MOST IMPORTANT benefit by a long-shot).
You’ll Stop Getting Angry And Upset
I won’t lie, my first month of journaling was basically just me screaming headfirst into a blank book (with my pen).
I was furious at the world.
Turns out I had a lot of anger/frustration to get out, and it showed.
Then I started to notice something..
I didn’t get angry much anymore. I stopped having big showdowns with my friends and actually maintained a mellow sort of mood all the time.
A few weeks later I realized that journaling was actually helping me get my frustration out before I could direct it at anybody else.
In short, writing was therapy.
What a novel idea.
Pun wasn’t intended, but let’s roll with it.
You’ll Start Understanding Why Certain Strategies Work And Don’t Work
My biggest quarrel with bloggers these days is that they don’t do enough tweaking. Like, if your posts aren’t doing well, maybe you should tweak the headline, the picture, the way you write, the formatting, etc. etc.
But they don’t do this.
They just keep doing the same thing over and over again and then they wonder why their posts aren’t performing better.
One of my secrets is that I used daily journaling to write down what blog posts I wrote that day, how my previous posts performed, and what I think I need to change to get more views/fans/highlights/etc.
Then I came up with ideas, used them, recorded how they impacted future posts, then kept getting better and better day-by-day.
Journaling doesn’t just have to be about recording your emotional soliloquies on a white page. It can be used as a business strategy as well.
This highlights a key benefit to journaling that REALLY ties into my last point..it helps you reflect (and we don’t do enough of that).
You’ll Actually Live In The Moment More
Journaling does this incredible fucking thing in that it helps you start to understand how you actually feel about friends, family, and co-workers after doing it for a few weeks.
You THINK you know how you feel about these people, but let me assure you that you have no freaking clue.
Letting thoughts run through our mind can be a visceral experience. We may think back to an old memory, or an old lover, or we may think about something that hasn’t happened at all and find ourselves in a deep emotional rut because of it.
I call it zoning the F out.
Happens to me all the time.
Letting your thoughts run through your mind is like sifting for gold in a river with your bare hands..
Something incredibly valuable may have been in your hands/possession at some point, but you probably never knew it because you don’t have that necessary tools to capture it. And like that it’s halfway down the river never to be seen again.
Journaling puts these visceral thoughts on paper so they don’t get away.
I’m sure you can remember a time where you had a conversation with someone and they interrupt you and then you can’t remember the REALLY IMPORTANT thing you were about to say to them.
Then it bugs you for five minutes and because your brain is old now it’s lost forever, never to be seen again.
Same thing happens to our thoughts.
Turns out we have numerous realizations/straight-up discoveries about our friends/family that enter and leave our mind in a hurry.
When we write we focus on the details. We write about the little idiosyncrasies of an interaction with someone. And most times when journaling we write while the interaction is still FRESH in our minds.
This strengthens our observation muscle.
Then we start looking for little details in our next interaction.
An eyebrow raise. A smile. How they always eat the same thing for lunch every day.
We’re just strengthening that observation muscle more and more — it’s something you won’t understand until you start journaling for a long time.
We Become More Self-Aware
Self-awareness is touted by self-help gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk as one of the MOST IMPORTANT traits to have for success.
Why does journaling increase self-awareness?
Like I said before — letting thoughts run through our mind is one thing, but recording them is like stepping in wet concrete.
The outline of our foot is now there forever.
After one month of journaling, I stopped getting angry at people. After three months of journaling, I knew traveling/adventure was what brought me the most joy. After 8 months of journaling, I realized that maybe writing is what I should do for the rest of my life.
A lot of people get beaten down by their thoughts. Me? I have a full-blown recorded conversation with them. I spar. I find weaknesses — flaws. I find opportunities.
Every time I step in the ring with my mind I get hurt, but I find out that much more about myself by the time I’m done.
Competing in a boxing match will always hurt, but there’s also always a winner.
After I got into the habit of daily journaling, I started winning for a change.
I realized I’m actually an ultra-sensitive dude and that maybe I should use that instead of shy away from it like “strong male” stereotypes are “supposed” to do.
I realized I’m too loyal. I realized I’m stubborn, and prideful, and a stupid young person. I realized I said shit two months ago that I disagreed with later, and that caused me to humble myself big time.
It also helped me realize that what we believe now isn’t always what we’re going to believe tomorrow.
Feelings are like the seasons — they come and go. People come and go. Family normally always stays.
I started getting slapped in the face by life itself. I started getting challenged. I started realizing that I don’t have it all together and I realized that you just can’t BE somebody else — you have to be yourself and accept that you just aren’t like that guy or girl you admire.
I realized all these things — some of the hardest truths about life — alone in a quiet room with nothing but a pen and a journal.
Everybody wants to better themselves. They make grand plans to do so and it almost always falls apart.
I promise you the quickest way to bettering yourself is to write.
If you want to speed that up, try writing online.
Here you aren’t just sparring with your mind, you’re sparring with other people’s minds in the comments and they aren’t afraid to tell you you’re dead wrong.
In fact, a lot of people quite enjoy it.
So here’s to writing — the thing that’s made me who I am, and the thing that’ll make me who I’ll be tomorrow.
Want to build an audience of your own on Medium? I have a free 5-day email course called “Your First 1,000 Followers” that will teach you how I did it!