Great men throughout history have almost all held the habit of journaling in common. I could go on about how greatness is something that comes after years of hard work and self-development but I’ll spare you the work up and just get to why you should start journaling today if you want to be a better man.
You’ll reflect and grow from it.
The reason we look into a mirror is to see where we need to make changes to our hair or clothing so we can go out in public looking our best. Self-reflection serves very much the same purpose. Rather than looking into a mirror on the bathroom wall, we look into ourselves; we think about the way we think about things and examine how we might think better and more wisely about those things we encounter in life. Journaling offers the opportunity to take time to think on yourself; pondering thoughtfully about what makes you do the things you do or why. You might be facing a rough patch in life and need to find a way forward. Maybe you lost a loved one to cancer or you want to start a business, or propose to your girlfriend or maybe you’re going to be a father for the first time and you just don’t know how to think about what is happening in your life. Whatever the life-changing scenario is, writing down your thoughts or concerns is a good exercise that will help you focus on what’s important. Reflection is enlightening and light helps us see a better way forward.
As you reflect you’ll begin to find order to your thoughts. William Makepeace Thackeray once said, “There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.” I can personally attest to this as a true statement. When you commit yourself to writing down some thoughts on the day’s events, you’ll begin to discover that you have thoughts and ideas that you never knew where there. Write them down. You’ll begin to construct a better way of thinking about different things and hopefully this will help you live better. Reflection is a powerful tool you can use to find a better way forward in life and not only will it have a good effect on you personally, but it can change the effect that you have on other people as well. For example, as you reflect on people you care for, you may find yourself acting more kindly toward them and people in general.
You’ll leave a record that others can grow from long after you are gone.
Obviously if you write down the details of the purchase of a car, you leave a record of the transaction and other details that could easily be lost to the dustbin of time. When you journal, you’re leaving a record of your life – who you met, what you thought of them, how that relationship grew or how you dealt with its falling apart. These details take shape every day for millions of people around the world and although they might each provide a valuable life lesson, too many people toss the memory into 90% of the brain we never use and any good that might have come from it is gone. It isn’t just the life lessons of relationships either. When you journal, you leave a record that tells people your thoughts as you contemplated going back to school or reflected on what you believe it means to be a man. If you leave behind a family, they might be glad to hear from you long after you’re gone by way of your written words. Jack London put it best when he said, “Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. Lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” A record of your life will have meaning to people who want to know you when you’re no longer living and if you journal, they will see how you grew as a man over the course of your life. A journal of your life will offer leadership to your children and grandchildren and your memory will have a lasting and meaningful place in the hearts and minds of your kin.