If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.
- Lao Tzu
It doesn't need to be imagined, it needs to be written down
- Philip Glass
I like the feeling of words doing as they want to do and as they have to do
- Gertrude Stein
My fate cannot be mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent, directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only it's noisiest passenger
- Aldous Huxley
Good composition is like a suspension bridge; each line adds strength and takes none away... Making lines run into each other is not composition. There must be motive for the connection. Get the art of controlling the observer – that is composition
- Robert Henri
Memory is the major element in cognition, in everything that we call the humanities. If you cannot remember, then you can't think and you can't imagine, and you can't write, and you can hardly read
- Harold Bloom
The characters in my novel are my own possibilities that were not realized
- Milan Kundera
FYI, I hate to be that guy, but I don't believe that's a Laozi quote. It doesn't really sound like anything in the Dao De Jing, and google seems to link it to a English translation of a supposed oral tradition of the Huahujing, that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the actual pieces of the Huahujing we've found.
Psychiatrist David Burns summarized this : "Most procrastinators think that motivation comes first, followed by productive action, but this is an illusion, because you’ll probably NEVER feel motivated to do some awful task you’ve been putting off. If you’re waiting for motivation, you’ll be waiting forever! [...] highly productive people know that ACTION comes first, followed by motivation. In other words, you have to get started on some task before you’ll feel motivated."
A more liberal and charitable interpretation of the quote could be to classify starting with action as a way to correct the mind, though I figured it could be helpful to provide a less thoughts-centred approach to living a better life.
I can't find it on quote investigator so someone probably made it up. I have experience that it is true and that's what counts for me
"Free your mind and your ass will follow"
I never sent one of those letters. The writing alone made me feel so much better or gave me a resolve to act that the letter would have been outdated by the point I sent it.
However, some prefer longform, written or typed, different apps and such.
What I found helped me was trying to focus more on how I was feeling and less on what was happening, as I think it's easy for me to rationalize and become more and more distant from how I'm feeling. Darn, now I want to revamp the app.
For example, if you're having doubts about a relationship or feel concern about a sensitive subject to the other person, you can write your thoughts to work it out on a separate piece of paper to securely dispose of after, or (similar to a suggestion elsewhere in the comments) a text file that isn't saved or gets deleted after.
Some may argue for great openness about thoughts in a relationship, but I think it's often useful to work things out on your own to clarify your thoughts and position, before a crucial discussion.
The main benefits include the flexibility to easily draw and write formulae if thinking about a technical topic, the ability to recall what you write easier than what you type, and enjoyment of the feeling of writing on paper. The feeling is actually really nice, and I believe it even inspired essays by Japanese authors about the feeling. The Guardian interviewed some researchers about the differences at: https://theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/16/cognitive-benefi...
The main drawback is the ability to search, though I personally rarely look back at past entries (the main benefit is during the act of writing). When brainstorming about something work-related, though, I do scan the related pages with my phone. Digital handwriting (e.g. Surface or iPad) with an app that does hand recognition is an alternative, though the feeling of writing with a good pen on quality paper is much nicer than a stylus on the display (even with screen protectors that simulate paper).
If you’d like to try, you can get an excellent setup for less than $50. You can get a nice pen (Pentel Energel, Zebra Sarasa, or Uniball Signo) and notebook (Rhodia, Midori, or Leuchtturm1917) and try it out for a few weeks. r/pens and r/notebooks talk about the differences, and also suggest other alternatives for writing tools.
For when I'm feeling very self conscious I have a script that turns off echoing to the terminal and streams everything I write to the clipboard (in case I decide I want to review/save after all)
If anyone occasionally happens to see you writing in a journal and asks about it (though preferably it's best to save writing for private moments), you can just describe it as note-taking or brainstorming. If one considers these lies by omission, a more direct way would be a description of "personal notes." Then, the notes sound far less interesting for most people to look into.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom
At a certain point, my mental mode switched. I started to actually enjoy journaling, and look forward to that time each morning. I often find myself journaling 3-4 pages, even having to stop myself "OK, time to actually do some work now."
Like others have said, I stopped journaling about specific events or circumstances, and started exploring my emotions. I got deeply curious about my feelings, and would capture my stream of thoughts. I thought of my "writer" self as the interviewer, and my "emotions" self as the subject. As silly and redundant as it felt initially, I used a "5 whys" approach to explore, writing down the questions and my internal responses.
This verbose written exploration was key for me. It's easy to "short circuit" a thought path and conclude it mentally e.g. "Yesterday, I was angry. Someone did X. I did Y. I guess I probably should have reacted instead with Z. OK next time I'll do Z."
Now I will actually write out the questions and answers as diligently as a court reporter, e.g. "Yesterday, I was angry. Why was I angry? Someone did X. Why did that make you angry? Because it sounds like they think they know more than me about Y. Why does it invoke that emotion if someone thinks they know more than you? Because I don't want others to think I don't know Y. Why don't you want others to think you don't know Y? I guess... I put a lot of my self worth into knowing Y, and I want others to see that..." and suddenly the words become powerful and lead to realizations that dissolve certain "mental loops" that I would get stuck in.
At some point I stopped which was a shame, but what's funny is all the journal entries are still there and I've just been reading them - lots of wonderful memories and snapshots of stuff going on in my mind at the time.
Just need the motivation to pick it up again!
as someone who has journaled on and off for 20 years seeing my emotions evolve has been quite valuable
also start today. start right fucking now. it’s never too late.
The technique is write down a specific upsetting events, describe the emotions you feel in response with percentages, point out any distortions in thinking (especially unhealthy thoughts) that may be exacerbating your mood, writing a healthier reframe, and writing your mood in percentages either. A simplified eversion would be to write down a specific upsetting event, identify any negative framing of the situation with writing, and reframing it in a healthier way (skipping the percentages).
The source material is in a PDF (low image quality): https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-you/northern-c... and a cleaner table for the approach can be found in this PDF as well: http://content.randomhouse.com/assets/9780767923897/pdfs/Dai...
What I have figured out is recording your voice and expressing yourself clearly , with emotions attached to your voixe, is lot more powerful.
Set a time and place beforehand. Somewhere you know it’ll be quiet and you’LL have time and focus. Consistency is key also. For me, I do when I poop or when I commute. (Unsuccessful: with other people around, at night when tired, during workout)
Also I have a physical notebook that I bring with me most places. I prefer this over a phone. Separation of concerns. Jotting down quick thoughts to journal about later helps with externalization (a useful keyword I learned when reading about our condition). And I can’t mysteriously start browsing the Internet from pulling out my notebook.
Also, experiment. Find out what works for you or things you want to try. Habit tracker. Phone reminders. Recently I tried coupling journaling after meditation, another habit I’m picking up (my mind was blank but I still want to try that again)
When I put pen to paper in the morning, I am letting my absolute freak flag fly and engage in something that is much more akin to automatic writing.
While journalling no doubt seems to work well for others, I get so much more out of unleashing a torrent of blab or blah and seeing what meaningful stuff pops up. It is just a guaranteed way for the fog to lift from my brain, as I quickly get to the heart of what's bothering me.
The only thing is posterity. Once I'm done, that paper is pretty much burnt after reading - as nobody needs to see that shit. That means it's a little more difficult to track internal progression or regression.
Meditation and qigong were great with slowing things right down as well - but not as immersive and long-lasting as brain purging.
I would focus on motivation to start (it can relieve the emotional pain from having negative thoughts cloud your mind all the time), commit to imperfection (just half a page is fine), and reduce small friction in the way (e.g. keep an open notebook in an easy-to-access place with a pen readily available).
Also consider making the act of writing a pleasurable experience. This can be done with a nice pen, doesn't need to be fountain, and high-quality paper. You can also be honest with yourself about whether it's helpful in your experience; you can feel free to stop if it becomes something you dread, versus something you enjoy and look forward to (or at least feel neutral about in tougher times).
My problem was that I wanted a good journal. I needed to do it properly. It became a disappointing chore.
I write around 3 times per week now, which I’d like to improve still but is a lot better than 3 times per month or much worse.
A few notes, not much detail, beats the hell out of nothing. Opening my journal feels so much better than it used to — like I do have the time, I’m not too preoccupied, and I’m not pressured to do it any certain way.
You might be different, but if I feel I need to accomplish a specific goal or be able to ascertain some measure of success in what I’m doing, it becomes infinitely harder to initiate because I’m a perfectionist to a fault. By relieving expectations of myself I can actually let myself get things done.
initially i only intended to write when i was away from home, but as my life turned into moving to other countries to live and work there, i realized that i should be writing every day.
the main purpose for me is to write down interesting experiences and memories and less about feelings. the same way i take photos. because there is something i want to remember. that means on most days the entries are short, but when something exceptional happens, then i take it down in as much detail as i can.
I love this so much.
It might also happen when writing to other people, in which case I will come back to the text and self-translate it once I have put all of my thoughts into words.
Thursday, June 23
1326, Hacker News
It's a great way to remember things, a great way to "rubber-duck" and realize what's important to you. And very occasionally, I look back on them years later and remember things I'd completely forgotten about!
If I may ask what does the 1326 come from? It's like a year but I cant recognize the system.
Yes, it's 24 hour time.