#993 Spiritual Windshield Wipers

Eudaimonia, Journaling, and the Science of Writing Down Our Goals

In our last +1, we talked about some William James wisdom from Ryan Holiday’s new book Stillness Is the Key.

Recall: According to Professor James: “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.

Enter: Using our willpower wisely to install habits that run on autopilot. Algorithms for the win!!

Today I want to chat about some more wisdom from Ryan’s new book. Specifically, his wisdom on the power of journaling to create stillness and clarity.

Here’s how he puts it: “Anne [Frank] used her journal to reflect: ‘How noble and good everyone could be’ she wrote, ‘if at the end of the day they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day, and after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal.’ …

That is what journaling is all about. It’s spiritual windshield wipers, as the writer Julia Cameron once put it. It’s a few minutes reflection that both demands and creates stillness. It’s a break from the world. A framework for the day ahead. A coping mechanism for troubles of the hours just past. A revving up of your creative juices, for relaxing and clearing.

Once, twice, three times a day. Whatever. Find what works for you.

Just know that it may turn out to be the most important thing you do all day.

When I interviewed Ryan, I asked him about his journaling practice.

Get this: He starts every work day with ~15 minutes of journaling. (Well, technically, he does his journaling after spending time with his family.)

He tells us that there’s an “almost comically long and fascinatingly diverse” list of people who have practiced the art of journaling—including Marcus Aurelius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Anaïs Nin and Ben Franklin.

How should we journal?

Ryan says, “Who cares!” There’s no right or wrong way. Just DO IT.

The week before I interviewed Ryan, I interviewed Marie Forleo about her new book Everything Is Figureoutable. She tells us about some research that tells us we increase our odds of success by 42% (FORTY-TWO PERCENT!) by simply writing our goals down.


If our ultimate goal is to live with eudaimonia, then it seems to me that we should at least consider writing down THAT goal on a daily basis.

Which is why I’m so bullish on our daily Carpe Diem journaling process in which we get clarity on our Optimus-best “Big 3” Identities in Energy + Work + Love, then we reflect on the Virtues that the daimon-inspired best version of ourselves embodies in each of our domains then, perhaps most importantly, we identify the #1 behavior we’ll engage in on each of those domains.

Throw in something that needs a little work and something that’s awesome and worthy of our gratitude and voilà! Carpe Diem.

Ryan has his own process and journal you can get. It’s called The Daily Stoic Journal.

However you do it, here’s to flipping on the spiritual windshield wipers and spending a few minutes in reflection that both demands and creates stillness. TODAY.

P.S. In our Mastery/Heroic Coach program, we spend a lot of time helping you incrementally master the process of our Carpe Diem Journaling process. In fact, we’ve been told this practice has produced some life-changing results. If that sounds like fun, learn more and sign up for the 2020 Mastery Series + Heroic Coach program Today!

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