Friendly advice can come from a whole range of sources. In a world saturated with images and messages it is important to recognize the most useful sources of advice are often closer to home than we think.
The Power of the Journal
I don’t often keep journals but I am aware of the power of keeping one. Today I looked through a journal of my travels as a 19 year old on my own in South East Asia for six months. I recorded a journal page every day of that trip and while some would say this a little self-indulgent, the end product is a book full of anecdotes and a snapshot into my personal history.
What it meant is that each day I had to reflect on what had happened, digest the events and convey them to the pages in a way that made sense. The process was like having a daily debrief. It helped keep my mind in order through the sometimes turbulent experiences of life on the road. In addition to having a function during the time, it is now a source of motivation for me.
The most pertinent advice I found today is a three sentence mantra: Forgive the Past. Believe in the Future. Imagine the Present.
Forgiving the past is important because the past can hold us back in so many ways. We are each conditioned by our personal histories but if we don’t forgive the people who have wronged us and the events that have affected us we may never move on. Breaking free of traumatic experiences that have left psychological scars is difficult, but learning to live beyond the reach of the past is liberating.
Believing in the future must be the central tenet of this advice. I recall a saying, “He who has hope has everything”, and to some extent it’s true. If you constantly and determinedly hold on to the belief that the situation will improve then you will increase your ability to survive any ordeal.
Imagining the present refers to creativity and positive visualization. If you can imagine yourself the way you want to be or how a situation can be improved, then you can consciously work towards that visualization. Imagining how you want the near present to be is a tricky mental exercise – whilst trying to live in the moment it is not possible to conceive of whats coming next. Yet since none of us entirely live in the moment there is always a mental space to imagine a better present.
A journal from ten years ago provided some wisdom which I found relevant today. Its clear that the lessons I was learning during that period of my life have bearing on how I compose myself today. When I think about my general approach to life I see that it hasn’t changed much, I am just more aware of the need for other people. The journal was a creative and practical endeavor at the time and is now a useful source of ideas and motivation. I would recommend experimenting with keeping a journal for anyone who wishes to learn more about themselves.