Picture the blissful scene of an empty highway road in the Icelandic countryside. You’re speeding down this road, at 87 miles per hour. You have enough gas in your tank to last you at least another fifty miles. As your car zips around a bend, you glance around and admire the lonely, snowy landscape glowing around you.
The road is empty. And it’s all yours:
You have no traffic to compete with. There’s no one impatiently honking their horn at you, or winding down their car window just to make sure you clearly hear the “F*** you!”
There’s just you. You and your car, and the empty road standing before you.
Thoughts are like the flashes of traffic speeding down a highway. On some days there won’t be many cars on the road, and the traffic will flow smoothly; but on other days the traffic will be cluttered and busier than Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
I’ve noticed a pattern in my life, and that pattern is this: the traffic of my thoughts become busier and busier every year.
Let me transport you back to the memory of when I was a child, playing in the sand:
Back in those days, my thoughts were black and white. There was no room in my mind for grey overthinking. The traffic of my thoughts flowed better. There were less cars on the road. The blinking green stoplights never turned to red.
Things are different now that I’m older. The thoughts in my mind have multiplied by the dozen. I have more priorities. More emails to read and send, more deadlines to meet and more boxes to cross off on the never-ending to-do list of Life.
In other words, the traffic of my thoughts have entered rush-hour mode.
One of the best ways I try to order my thoughts is by writing them down in a journal. Here’s why:
Your journal is the silent therapist that will listen to you when no one else bothers to.
The leather bound book will never judge you. It will never pity you. It will never tell you ‘That’s all the time we have for today.’ All your journal will do is listen. And sometimes that’s enough.
Your journal can help you to decode the encrypted thoughts inside your head.
Have you ever felt sad or depressed, but you couldn’t pinpoint the reason why? You just know that today you pressed the snooze button on your alarm clock a record-breaking twenty times, and you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Your journal can help you to tug out the root of the problem.
What I personally tend to do is I start off by writing about the emotions that I’m feeling at that moment. The good, the bad and the ugly. The fears that haunt me, the hopeful dreams that inspire me.
Then after a month or so, I pull out my journal from its hiding place and reread all of my old notes. What I tend to find is that I understand my thoughts better when I read them down the line. When I look at them retrospectively.
Your journal can help you to better appreciate your personal improvement
The other night, I sat down at the edge of my bed and leafed through one of my old journals. It was the one I used to write in when I was seventeen, three years ago.
I slowly opened up the first page and scanned through my messy handwriting. I felt unsettled, reading through my old thoughts. I found it hard to believe that this was actually my journal that I was looking at. I didn’t see my current self in the pages of that old, tattered book.
Do you know why that was?
Because I changed:
Seventeen years old Me and twenty years old Me are not the same person.
As I’m sure seventeen years old You and twenty years old You are complete strangers.
We become older, we evolve and we form better versions of ourselves.
I have changed completely in the last three years, but it was only when I opened up that page of my old journal that I could see the change crystal clearly.
Writing down a journal can help you keep track of your improvement in life.
Your journal doesn’t have to be a New York’s Time bestsellers. You can have in it as many spelling errors as you wish. All that matters is that when you write, you write from the bottom of your heart. You write with a honesty and rawness.
When you can make sense of your thoughts, your thoughts won’t feel like they are stuck in a rush-hour traffic.