This week we talk about how to journal and find your wisdom without it being a chore
Journaling has been used by wise men forever and a day, as a record of history, or a record of their learnings, or their thinking. And, in fact, so much wisdom has been passed down through the ages, by the journals.
Our lives are full of events, relationships, beliefs and aspirations. Some of those are good. Some of them aren’t. And it can get really complex upstairs. And if you don’t have somewhere that lets you spill it all out, onto the table in front of you, and re-organise your thoughts, or consume and think about some of the more challenging things, you actually can develop all sorts of complexes and crazy ideas and beliefs.
So journaling, in many ways, it’s like just getting it all off your chest, getting it out onto a page. So you can say, “Okay, now this is now something I can have a look at and review, so that I’ll get some growth and some better perspective.”
One of the great dangers here, is you can go through life. Things happen to you that are good and bad. And you think, “Gee, I must reflect on that. I must write about that.” And often we actually don’t. And the wisdom is lost. The lesson that was hidden within what happened to you, it goes, and you can’t get it back.
So journaling can be a source to tap into the wisdom within you, or within a particular circumstance.
Naval captains are famous for the fact that they have to hold a journal and a record of all of their ship’s voyages. Peter Scott, former Chief of Australian Submarins says he would religiously journal every single day, keeping a good record. But what it did was not, not only did it create a record of what was going on, it was really good for his own mental health, as he got things out of his head onto the page. It created a discipline, and a bit of a drum beat in what he was doing. And what that also meant was, he could look back on what he’d written, the moments that were… The days leading up to a major event, or a key thing, and see that there were signposts that maybe he could have seen, or read better.
There’s a great book called The Road Less Stupid. And it’s all how to avoid paying what the author Keith Cunningham calls a “stupid tax”. And what the stupid tax is, when you do something that really costs you a lot of money, or costs you personally through relationship or pain or stress or something.
And he says, “The stupid tax happened, because you didn’t do the right thinking that led up to it. And then you haven’t learned from it.”
So one of the absolute cool things, that the author talks about in this book is having good quality reflection time every week. As you journal more and more, you get better and better at asking good questions, and reviewing your own thought patterns. And that just leads to growth. And you get better and better at solving things in the moment, because you’ve got a clearer head. Your mental health is better. You’re operating at a slightly different level. And as a result, things just don’t phase you as much. And you’re better prepared in the moment, to respond with a really good sound thinking process.
The golden rule here, is that whatever form you take for this, it must suit you. Some people write a song, and they might write three songs over a whole year, but they will have a sense that there’s a song that they want to write. They need to write. And they sit down with their guitar, or whatever, and it’s their form of getting in the touch.
Somebody else is going to write a poem. Everyone’s got a different way of doing it. Pricey will often go for a walk and a talk with a friend. But then when he gets home, he grabs his journal out, and writes down the things we’ve just been talking about and sifts it through.
Some men will like free form writing. It’s just letting it flow, whatever comes into your head. Not trying to shape that. Just write whatever comes out. It might even feel a bit embarrassing to write it. You just write it.
Another method is, where you write a letter to your own self, or you write a letter to a significant person. For example, Pricey’s Dad died when he was 17. So he remembers one time within his own life when he was was really missing Dad. He remembers sitting down and writing his Dad a letter. Everything hehad ever wanted to say his Dad, had he lived to be an old man. But it was a beautiful, powerful, powerful thing.
Greg loves either answering a structured question, or writing down a quote of some sort, a bit of wisdom, and then letting his brain go to work on that particular thing. And that’s just a great way to learn, because we’ve all… There’s so many quotes and memes going around on social media these days, but have you actually ever sat down and tried to unlock that, unravel it a bit, and really just write about it in some depth, because I find when you do that, you really get to the essence of what the person who said or wrote that was really trying to get to.
So the whole key to this whole journaling is a belief that the wisdom is within you. You don’t need to look to the experts somewhere else. And as you journal in whatever form that actually takes, writing the poem, writing that song, writing a letter, focusing on a quote, just getting your feelings out, just letting your brain scatter ideas down, whatever form, trust that there’s a wisdom within you.
Timing and energy for journaling is a really important thing. Don’t sit down and make yourself do it. There’re going to be times when there’s going to be an energy for it. There’ll be other times when the energy is not there.
We’ve both had times within our lives where we’ve journaled virtually every single day for a month or two, then don’t touch it for seven or eight weeks. It’s a whole sense of timing, and there’s a gut feeling.
Another valuable step is to have a particular favourite place in the house or nearby that wisdom flows. Pricey has a quiet sacred place in his house. Pricey says, “So I go to that little space. I go to my chair. I try to get there the same time. So there’s a time. I sit down. I might put on a song, and make myself as relaxed as I can. Pick up my journal and my pen, and then trust whatever comes.”
A lot of the fellas now are probably asking themselves, “Well, how do you even start? If you’ve never journaled before, what do you do?”
Well, you know what, go and damn well buy a journal. That’s how you start. That’s first.
So start by buying yourself a journal, and then just picking something really basic, something that’s easy, maybe recording the day’s events, maybe journaling with a couple of quotes. If you want a book that’s got great quotes in it, one of the ones that I use is called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. It’s a book about stoic philosophy. Got a whole bunch of great quotes in it. You could journal on that for three years without even thinking.
You buy a journal. You sit down. And then when you actually start, just let the thing flow. Don’t overthink it. Don’t, “I’ve got to write about this.” Or, “Got to think about that.” Whatever’s within you, no matter how silly it sounds, just write the stuff down. And it’s amazing how it’ll begin to make a bit of sense. Don’t overthink it. Listen to your gut feeling. Don’t worry about how logical it actually sounds.
It like Nike. Just do it, and do it your particular way.And enjoy the wisdom that flows.
Grego and Pricey