One of the most common questions I have been getting back from podcast guests and followers on my Instagram has been around: “what is my daily process when it comes to journalling?” Like Blogging or podcasting, the short answer is just to start. However like most things first off; the ‘Why’ followed by ‘Where’ and ‘How’ are key points to execution.
My key breakthrough with Journalling came from reading Tools of Titans (like many of my now neurotic habits; cold therapy, shakti mats, keto, meditation…) in particular the segment on Morning Pages. The key aspect, and the ‘Why’ to journaling is getting out of your reptile brain. Those familiar with my podcast will know I will often apply various practices to the way the autonomic nervous system influences our behaviour. When our reptile brain (The Amygdala oblongata- ‘The Water Boy’ anyone) is in control: we have adrenaline pulsing through our bodies, our pupils dilate, our skin tingles, our body heats up with the flow of blood to our muscles, our bowels dump (“I almost shit myself”) and we either fight, flight or freeze.
Modern society is constantly tapping into this pathway and is part of the reason for our constant feelings of anxiety, insomnia (inability to sleep because there is something out to get me), stress and ‘busyness’. Things like; social media, blue lights from the average 9.4 hours each day we spend in front of a screen, driving in our cars (a lot of the time being cut off and held up in traffic) not to mention financial pressures and family expectations. Whats worse; for the most part, we deal with all this on our own as we live increasingly isolated lives, amongst thousands of strangers, which means our reptile brain is on overdrive and like that alligator in the swamp we are primed to snap at any moment.
So why does the process of journaling work? By slowing down and connecting with our thoughts, we are able to elevate our nervous system into our higher brain functions. A few deep breaths engages the brain stem and expands our diaphragm against the vagus nerve and releases hormones that allow us to feel safe and relaxed. By writing and connecting our thoughts to the page, we go beyond our reptilian and primate ancestry and delve into what helped us to evolve out of the trees. Creativity, language and communication were hugely influential in accelerating technology.
But where do I start??? This is why I made my template. Each morning I arrive into work I take a moment to journal. This allows me to enter the day with an appropriate mindset, especially after ramping it up in the gym, navigating the morning with a young baby, and the drive to work. I begin by googling a quote around a topic or by someone of significance who no doubt was a prolific journalist in their own right (Hemmingway, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Theodore Roosevelt, Churchill, Rumi..).
The next bit is the key for me; the ability to get started, in fact thats one of the things I write. After documenting the days date (simple right?) I will put the words “Start Again” onto the page (see Richie McCaw in “Chasing Great”). My next two cues again come from Tim Ferris podcasts: 30,000 relates to the notion that we live on average for 30,000 days, 30,000!! with each day journaled, thats another day less, better make the most of it! The second prompt is 86,400; the number of seconds in a day. If I’m doing this at 8:45 am, there’s still a lot of seconds left in which I can make a difference.
Whilst it main seem a bit morbid to consider life in numbers of days, or even down to the number of seconds per day, it aligns with the stoic philosophy of “Momento Mori” which is a daily reminder or prompt, such as a skull on a desk or in a painting; which reiterates that we have but one lifetime and what we do with it is truly up to us.
Next I will document my quote and upload it to my Instagram story and highlights.
Thirdly I will consider three things I am grateful for: this is relatively easy it can be something grand like family, people, positions or possessions in your life or simple things like being able to drive to work in a car, air con, coffee, breath, running water. It’s a fantastic way to ground yourself and let go of the ‘threats’ in your life (Sympathetic Nervous system Hijackers) and remind yourself that you probably have it better than most on this planet, and that we live in the greatest and most prosperous time ever despite what is seen in media or when we compare ourselves to others in our instagram feed.
The next step is to add some positivity with words of affirmation. These can be desirable traits, or traits about yourself that you are proud of. By aligning our thinking with how we desire to be elevates our consciousness and actions to fall into this pattern. As I learnt at RYLA and from Dom Vettise; Feelings influence our thoughts which influence our behaviour. If we can align the way we think, then we can align our behaviour which leaves us feeling good and drives us to think more positively.
Lastly I perform some visualisation through the guise of ‘Future Gratitude’. By visualising things in the future which truly resonate with who I am and give me a flutter, I hope that they will drive what I do today. This again aligns with words of affirmation except by addressing how I feel. By having hugely positive emotions towards something (I’m talking butterflies that make you almost well up, he’ll go ahead and shed a tear for these future joys) I again align my thoughts and then my behaviour towards the outcomes I want in life and for others.
Hopefully this was helpful, if its something you have been ruminating on or hearing about. If it allows you to form a practice, which I believe has had a hugely positive effect on my life, then Im glad it can help. So as I said at the start, if you would like to get your hands on a template to work towards feel free to send me your email on Instagram and I’ll send you the PDF.
If not, I would love to connect and hear your thoughts.
If you would like a copy of my Daily Journaling Template simply send me your email address in a direct message on my Instagram.