Epictetus the previous slave. Marcus Aurelius the emperor. Seneca the statesman and playwright. These three radically totally different males led radically totally different lives, however they appeared to have one behavior in widespread: journaling.
In a single type or one other, every of them did it. It was Epictetus who would admonish his college students that philosophy was one thing they need to “write down day-to-day,” and that this writing was how they “ought to train themselves.” Seneca’s favourite time to journal was within the evenings. When darkness had fallen and his spouse had gone to sleep, he defined to a good friend, “I study my whole day and return over what I’ve finished and mentioned, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by.” Then he would go to mattress, discovering that “the sleep which follows this self-examination” was notably candy. And Aurelius was probably the most prodigious of journal-keepers, and we’re fortunate sufficient that his writings survive to us, appropriately titled, Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, Ta eis heauton, or “to himself.”
They weren’t the one ones to apply the behavior of writing. Foucault noticed of this period of historical past that every one the nice minds practiced journaling: “On this interval there was a tradition of what might be referred to as private writing: taking notes on the studying, conversations and reflections that one hears or engages in oneself; conserving sorts of notebooks on vital topics (what the Greeks referred to as hypomnemata), which should be reread on occasion in order to reactualize their contents.”
And naturally, many individuals—stoic or in any other case—have fallen in love with and devoted themselves to morning or night journaling within the centuries since. And for good cause: It really works. It clarifies the thoughts, gives room for quiet, non-public reflection and provides one a file of their ideas over time.
However in Stoicism, the artwork of journaling is greater than merely conserving a diary. This every day apply is the philosophy. Making ready for the day forward. Reflecting on the day that has handed. Reminding oneself of the knowledge we now have discovered from our academics, from our studying, from our personal experiences. It’s not sufficient to easily hear these classes as soon as. As an alternative, one practices them again and again, turns them over of their thoughts, and most significantly, writes them down and feels them flowing by means of their fingers whereas doing so.
On this manner, journaling is Stoicism. It’s virtually inconceivable to have one with out the opposite.
No matter type you discover is most conducive for you is the one to make use of. Some like to put in writing or jot notes down on paper. Some like to tug up an empty doc on their laptop and file ideas. However it’s the course of that counts, and its worth compounds over time. One can not count on knowledge and self-mastery to easily arrive by way of epiphany. No, these states are acquired, little by little, apply by apply. The earlier you begin, the higher.
This text was printed in November 2017 and has been up to date. Picture by Vergani_Fotografia/IStock