For the whole of his life, my grandpa Bill Hurst kept a journal. His diary did not contain a lot of fancy writing. He just maintained a pocket notepad in each of his pearl snap shirts and recorded brief notes about his activities and the people he spent time with. He'd been doing this for the majority of his life. During his stint as a forest ranger in the Wasatch Range, he also kept detailed notebooks.
My grandfather started writing his autobiography for his grandkids and great-grandchildren about a decade ago, using his diaries and daily journal entries as source material. My grandfather's life story turned into a 500-page mammoth. Only a few of the many fascinating insights I gained from reading it are as follows:
My grandfather wooed my grandmother while she was on the job as a telephone operator.
My grandfather's pool winnings were essential in his being able to fund his education.
During the summers of his high school and university years, he worked as a sheep herder. His depiction of the process of castrating sheep is extremely detailed and informative. This is exactly how he did it.
He was racing his horse through the streets of his hometown when he was struck by a car and scarred for life. The horse was put down.
When he was a young boy, he and his family often took trips in a horse-drawn buggy.
In addition, A great deal more. I thought my grandfather's reflections on the events in his life to be more fascinating than any of the stories he told. During these times, he shared his wisdom and taught me a few things about being a man. In my grandfather's autobiography, I find a wealth of insights and advice gleaned from a full and fruitful life. With the publication of his autobiography, he ensured that his name would be remembered for all time.
If he hadn't kept a journal, however, his life's story would've fit on a few pages at most.
Should I let my BF read my journal?
If you're interested in keeping a daily journal for more reasons than just recalling your five-year-old diet, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how many advantages there are. That's why it's imperative that you begin keeping a journal immediately.
The Best Write in Diaries
My research into the lives of great men has led me to a startling conclusion: they were all dedicated diary keepers. To be clear, I'm not claiming that they achieved greatness because they kept diaries. Even if he hadn't maintained a diary, Captain Cook would have still been one rotten a**. But if these great guys thought journaling was worthwhile, then perhaps I should give it a try. The majority of what we know about their extraordinary lives and accomplishments comes from their writings.
Some of history's most notable figures who also kept diaries include:
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Thomas Jefferson
- Charles Darwin
- Benjamin Franklin
- Lewis and Clark
- Andrew Carnegie
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Captain Cook
- Winston Churchill
- Sir Edmund Hilary
- Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton
To Answer the Question: Why Should I Maintain a Journal?
Your future generations will enjoy reading it. Right now, I know it's hard to believe. Everyone probably thinks your life is boring and unremarkable. In addition, people of all ages assume that the world will keep on functioning the same way it does today. When your great-grandpa was chilling in the 1920s, he probably wondered, "Who would want to read about this new fangled radio or how I get my food out of an icebox?" Phhht! What a dull subject! Now, however, such a glimpse into the past is fascinating to people of today. So it is with you, too. In a future where holograms are the norm for communication, your descendants will find it fascinating to hear your thoughts on technology like the alta vista and cell phones. And sadly, kids won't be curious about it until they hit their twenties, understand you're going to die, and start asking you questions.
Believe me, you won't have the same crystal-clear memory you do now in the far future. Do you recall how, as a young person, you assumed you would have no trouble recalling past events when you were thirty? Other than the time a dog bit you in the face, what do you remember about those times?
With each passing year, the clarity of our recollections fades as the pixels vanish. By the time you're 80, you won't recall much about the major events of your life. Nevertheless, it is frequently the minor, seemingly inconsequential aspects of life that hold the most intrigue. In 2009, what did a typical day look like for a man? The young 'uns will also probe you on the major events of recent history, such as, "Where were you when you heard out about the attacks on the World Trade Center?" as well as "What did you think of Barack Obama's election?" They can find the answers they're looking for in your journals, which will pull you two even closer together.
As for the future, who can say? A day may come when your thoughts are of interest to everyone in the world. You might not believe it today, but few men in history have known they would become famous before they did. How many guys have been forgotten during their lifetimes only to be heralded in death?
It has the power to awaken rational thought. Have you ever faced a tough decision, agonized over it for a while, finally settled on one course of action, only to begin to second-guess it later? Have you ever hit a wall and felt like there was no way out? Maintaining a journal might help you through these difficult situations. You can document your reasoning for a choice once you've made it. Then, when you look back on your decision and begin to question it later on, you can remember the good reasons you had for making it. Or, if you're feeling down and out and can't seem to get yourself out of it, you can flip through your journal and relive the moments of joy. Reading through your old journals may remind you of the adjustments you need to make to your current situation. One alternative is to read one's old journals and be shocked by one's former methods of operation. Don't make me turn back into that guy, ever! Why did I ever think that? For the most part, the person who keeps a journal gets advice from their more experienced prior selves.
Last but not least, putting pen to paper to express your emotions and frustrations might help you zero in on the core of the issue and find a way to resolve it.
Writing things down makes you live forever. Imagine the billions of people who have died and will die without ever having been documented anywhere. They fade away into thin air, lost forever to the annals of time. The act of keeping a journal can be likened to purchasing eternal life. It's something concrete to remind them you were here. Wow, you really did live and love! The existence of an actual human being named Jared Matthews, who was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and who eventually passed away.
Keeping a journal has been shown to have positive effects on health. Writing about traumatic or stressful situations and one's deepest feelings and emotions has been demonstrated to improve one's mental and physical health and sense of well-being in a number of studies. In particular, guys have a propensity for keeping their emotions in check. Writing in a journal can help us release pent-up emotions and stress.
A Guide for Keeping a Journal
Choose your medium. If you've never kept a journal before, or if you used to but stopped, the first thing you'll need to do is choose a journal format. Journals can be kept in either an analog or digital format.
The conventional image of a journal is of the paper and pen form. You can use anything from a Bic pen and a spiral notebook to a hand-bound leather diary and a fountain pen. Do whatever works best for you.
Many people nowadays keep diaries online rather than in a physical notebook because of the convenience it provides. In today's digital age, there is no shortage of ways to keep track of life's events and reflections. A few examples of desktop digital tools you could use to keep a journal are listed below.
Machine that processes text. In other words, it's the bare minimum. Just fire up a word processor, such as Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer, and get to typing.
TextEditor/Notepad. Simply create a new file in your OS's text editor and name it "journal.txt." Ensure that you include the date with every entry. Here's a neat trick for including the current date in your Notepad notebook entries.
JDarkroom. Free and open-source, JDarkroom is a Java-based text editor. Distinct from other text editors, it fills the entire screen so that you can concentrate on what you're writing. It's nice; I've used it before. It is compatible with any system.
OneNote. The powerful Microsoft OneNote application can also serve as a journal. Start a journal in OneNote by making a new notebook. This software makes it simple to incorporate media such as photographs and video clips into your writing. Currently, OneNote is a Windows-only app.
Evernote. With Evernote, you can carry your diary with you everywhere you go since 1) it's free, 2) it works on any platform, and 3) you can conveniently store and access entries online. Though I don't keep a journal on Evernote, I use it religiously for taking notes and wholeheartedly endorse it.
There are a number of online services that will allow you to keep your journal online in the "cloud" and even allow you to share it with other people. Several Choices:
Blogspot. Priceless, and you can choose whether to keep your journal private or make it accessible to a select group of individuals. You may easily add pictures to your diary entries with your written words.
LiveJournal. Identical to Google's Blogspot in all but name. It's totally free, and you can decide whether or not to share it with others.
The Art of Manliness blog is hosted on WordPress.com, which is my preferred blogging platform. If you want to keep a journal online, WordPress.com allows you to create a blog for free.
Get in the habit of using Gmail as a diary. Certainly, this is a thought-provoking proposition.
Set up a meeting time. Creating a notebook from scratch is simple. Maintaining that discipline on a daily basis is more challenging. Find a consistent time each day to write in your journal, and stick to it. Before I turn in for the night is my preferred time to do it. To relax and reflect on the day's activities. But there are many who find it more convenient to write first thing in the morning or keep a journal throughout the day. Do whatever works best for you.
You may not feel like keeping a journal on some days. Just sit down and write something on those days. It can be as long as a sentence. Keep your word, even if it's as simple as, "I'm not in the mood to write."
How to Choose a Topic
Many people give up on keeping a journal because of this same issue. The lack of inspiration prevents them from putting pen to paper. You can find "suggestions" for diary entries in any one of a plethora of books. The questions are typically trite and meaningless, like, "If you were a cloud, what form would you be?"
Tell me about your day. Don't try to impress anyone with your sophisticated use of journal prompts. There will be days when you just want to write a quick note, and then there will be days when you are overcome with philosophical musings or a pressing situation that necessitates more in-depth entries. If you're stuck for inspiration, just go with whatever comes to mind.
As we've already established, you may believe your life is dull, but your great-grandchildren won't share your opinion. People will be just as amazed to see you driving a gasoline-powered vehicle as you are to see your great-grandfather in a horse-drawn carriage. If you're really living a dull life, maybe starting a journal will inspire you to live a little.
Now is the time to begin. You have been assigned to begin a journal today. Take your pick of expression methods and get started. Create a new entry in your journal today if you have one but haven't used it in a while. And kudos to you if you're one of the infrequent but dedicated journal keepers. Continue your positive streak and use today's entry to congratulate yourself on a job well done.
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