Journal as a Means to Honor Who You Are

THE EMPTY PAGE IS A FRIEND TO CONSOLE IN, a blank canvas to explore, an arena to go to battle with your thoughts.

I always feel better after writing. If I wake at any point in the night and feel like writing, I try not to think; I just do. I leave my journal by my bed for this reason, because I don’t want an excuse not to write.

It’s as if the paper by my bed is the bridge between my dream state and the waking state, a bridge between my beating heart and my restless soul.

Journaling can be a life-changing practice to ride out the difficult times in our lives. Problems lose their fangs when set down in ink; obstacles are put into perspective when confined between a page’s lines.

Yet, journaling deserves more than just our times of uncertainty. When I heard actor Matthew McConaughey talk about why he writes in his diary on the Tim Ferris Podcast, I was reminded of why I return to the blank page, day in and day out. McConaughey says:

My diary started out how most people’s do; you write when you’re lost. My early diary entries were the whys whats wheres whens and hows, the existential questions.

Then I said wait a minute, let’s dissect success and when things are going well! Let’s write in this diary when you feel like everything is clear and you feel strong and confident and significant! So when I did get in a proverbial rut later, I could get back to that diary and see what was I writing when I felt like everything was lickety-split.

McConaughey explains how journaling became not only solace through difficult times, but an account of what he was doing when he felt authentic; when he saw the world as beautiful; when he felt it was him in his own skin.

It’s never going to be this day or this moment, ever again. I think McConaghey’s sentiment is a valuable lesson of how journaling can help us through trying times, and how it makes us appreciate the absolute good in life.

Journaling deserves our victories, our joys, our character. It deserves everything we are on this stage of the journey; it deserves everything we dream of being.

When McConaughey began writing down how he felt during the prosperous times in his life, he found consistencies in his behavior. He says:

The people I was hanging out with, how much sleep I was getting, what I was eating, the beauties in the world that I was noticing that were really affecting me; how I approached people, how I was approaching the day, how I was approaching conflict; I was getting to know myself.

It can be daunting to be completely honest in a journal, even when nobody will see it. It takes courage. But when those words are on the page, trust me, it’s liberating.

Journaling is the best way that I’ve found to cut through the BS and dig into why we feel the way we do.

I started writing things down and I thought, are you weird? Can you be this kind of person?

McConaughey says.

I got the confidence to go yes, you can; let’s write down those things that make you laugh, what makes you happiest, what makes you sad and angry, and don’t worry if it’s the collective choice of the majority. What does it mean to you?

Funny enough, I’ve written about Matthew McConaughey before. But when I hear something inspirational that comes up again and again in my mind, I want to share it with others.

His story is incredibly motivating because I, too, believe that writing is the best way to live in the present, a means of taking note of how the world makes us feel.

It’s the best way to get to know ourselves, as we are the only person we can never escape from.

I know what it feels like to turn to the blank page when it’s as if our voice imparts no sound, or we can’t get out the right words. Write during these times, and you’ll always have a friend and a reason to keep going.

Yet, journaling is so much more.

I encourage you to write about why the world is beautiful. If you don’t notice anything when you’re out, think about it. How did the sunset make you feel? What about that book or that movie had you in stitches?

What act of kindness did a friend or a loved one do that you’ll never forget, or better yet, what have you done to brighten somebody else’s day?

Are you waking up in the morning with a lightness in your heart and soul? Do you feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Write about it, remember that feeling, capture the color of life and what truly moves you, then cork the bottle and stash it away as an essential piece of you to always return.

  • Pingback:Vincent Van Patten | How Structure Leads to Freedom
    Posted at 10:56h, 19 November Reply

    […] has been instrumental in my life over the last few years, and what he said hit home. I wrote a story about that interview and how his journaling practices resonated with […]

  • Stuart Danker
    Posted at 18:44h, 10 November Reply

    Such a great post! I myself journal every day just because I enjoy the practice. Like they say, journalling is you learning how to listen to yourself. Thanks for this 🙂

    • Vincent Van Patten
      Posted at 10:05h, 11 November Reply

      I really appreciate that, Stuart! It’s awesome that you journal every day. Really a great point, that journaling is listening to yourself. It’s fascinating because the voice we all live with speaks to us throughout the day, but I like how you say journaling is a time to actually listen to that voice and ponder what it’s truly saying. Thank you for reading, and for commenting, my friend!

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