For creators and publishers, Web Stories are entirely under your direction, just like any other content on your website. Story authors are in full control of monetization, hosting, sharing and adding links to their Stories. Plus, the web offers one of the largest audiences for creators, with publishers already seeing strong results, as shown in the stories.google showcase. And because Web Stories are just an extension of a website, some early adopters of Web Stories are showcasing their stories on their home page, social channels, newsletters and more.
To help jumpstart the Web Stories ecosystem, we worked with a diverse group of publishers and creation tools in the U.S, India and Brazil this year to collaborate on the product and build out its features.
How to Start Journaling and Stay Consistent – Journaling for Personal Growth
Why Start Journaling?
There are countless different ways to journal, but in this post, I’m going to share the basics of how to journal for personal growth, including principles of journaling, templates you can steal, and resources to help you start journaling today and stay consistent for years to come.
Journaling is a powerful practice of self-reflection. It allows us to intentionally review the past, embrace the present, and plan for the future. Journaling lets us examine our thoughts and take control of them, but it can be challenging to know where to start.
Countless distractions and priorities pull us in different directions all day long. Journaling serves as a shelter from the constant stream of inputs, so we can make sense of what’s going on in our lives.
When we capture our thoughts on the page, we discover things just below the surface. These thoughts are otherwise impossible to notice but have a huge impact on how we think and feel.
These discoveries let us understand where we are right now and what truly going on in our heads. Intentionally organizing and understanding our true thoughts lets us become a bit better each day and fuels our personal growth.
Benefits of Learning How to Journaling
We all journal for different reasons, but if you’re reading this, it’s likely you want to learn how to journal to try and become a better version of yourself.
Journaling is the practice of capturing and examining our thoughts. Although simple, it has a number of benefits that encourage growth.
Clarity of Thought
The biggest benefit that comes from learning how to journal is developing clarity of thought. When thoughts and ideas are bouncing in our heads, it’s hard to make sense of them. We’re subject to our assumptions, and we can only think of one thing at a time. This means we tend to spiral out of control from one thought to the next.
However, when we write these ideas down, we translate them into concrete words on the page. Once the words are captured, we can consider multiple ideas at one time. Shifting from fuzzy thoughts to thorough writing generates clarity in our thinking that can’t be achieved with ideas floating in our heads.
Whenever we’re faced with a big decision, thousands of thoughts are swirling around in our heads. Different scenarios are playing out, and several complex factors must be considered equally.
It’s difficult to think through nuanced problems and organize thoughts in our heads. We can try to talk things through with someone else, but ultimately the thoughts will still be abstract and hard to capture.
When we write things down, ideas become tangible, and different scenarios take shape. We can see potential benefits or drawbacks we weren’t able to identify previously. With new information captured, we can evaluate all the relevant factors to make the right choice.
Learning how to journal and making it a habit creates a detailed record of our lives. Looking back at specific periods of time, we can recreate the good and avoid the bad.
One of the best parts about journaling is looking back at previous journal entries to see what and how we were thinking at a certain point in time. We can see what was important to us, what was troubling us, and we’re instantly transported back in time.
This makes for a fun trip down memory lane but also provides a window into our performance. We can look back on good times and bad and see what actions and patterns of thinking led us to different points in our life.
Journaling let’s test our ideas quickly and identify gaps in our thinking.
When our thoughts are trapped in our heads, we become victims of our own biases. We craft narratives about the past and make assumptions about the future. As we live our lives, these flawed ideas become the foundation of our thinking.
However, when we write these ideas down, the narratives become clear. We can see through the assumptions and identify the missing pieces in our thinking. When all of our ideas have to be examined on paper, we can easily see what holds up against scrutiny.
I’ve always been fond of saying self-awareness is a superpower. It’s one of the most desirable traits to develop and one of the hardest to cultivate.
Recognizing something we’re about to say or do is something we’ll regret is a difficult task on its own. Stopping ourselves before we do or say that thing is even harder. Self-awareness is identifying and controlling our thoughts before they turn into actions.
The practice of consistent journaling helps us build the muscle of examining ourselves and our thinking. The more we review how we think and investigate ourselves with a pen on the page, the better we can understand ourselves. The better we understand our thinking, the more awareness we have of our thoughts and actions.
How to Start Journaling
It Doesn’t Matter Where, When, or Why: Just Write
Journaling is different for everyone. While I’ll provide some specific frameworks and prompts to get started below, it’s important to recognize that journaling takes many different forms.
It can be answering prompts, it can be writing stories, it can be writing nonsense, it can be reviewing the day, or it can be talking into a voice recorder. It can even be me making lists, drawing pictures, venting, or expressing gratitude.
There is no best way to journal, and plenty of other ways to do it besides the ones listed above.
The method doesn’t matter. The most important part of learning how to journal is consistently capturing thoughts on the page. That’s where the benefit comes from. We just need to focus on writing.
Structure Removes the Intimidation of the Blank Page
The hardest part of journaling is starting. Staring at a blank page with the pressure to write meaningful and insightful thoughts is overwhelming.
When we’re starting, we’re not sure when to write, what to write, or how to write. It’s like having an assignment to write an essay about anything we want. We freeze. We’re not sure what it should be about, how long it should be, or what type of essay to write. There are too many options.
We need constraints to be effective. Journaling is no different.
Structured journaling gives us an easy on-ramp because it tells us exactly what to write down. Instead of creating an idea and writing about it, we just have to write.
A Journaling Framework to Get Started
Take 30 seconds and write down three things you’re grateful for.
Congratulations, you just journaled.
A productive framework for journaling makes it easier to get started and ensures our journaling is valuable.
Here’s the journal structure I use every morning to kickstart my day:
Monday, January 1st
What’s on your mind?
3 things I’m grateful for, what’s on my mind that morning, and my projects for before and after work. That’s it.
Instead of having to come up with eloquent thoughts every morning, I let the structure do the work. I journal almost every morning because I’ve made it easy for myself.
Using Prompts as a Jumping-Off Point
Once we’re more familiar with writing our thoughts down in a structured format, we can start to experiment with open-ended prompts.
This provides us an opportunity to expand our thoughts. Instead of functional responses to fill in a structured format, we can write in longer sentences and paragraphs. Responding to prompts lets us jump into the deep end and examine our thoughts on a new level.
As we continue writing, new ideas or patterns of thinking emerge. This is where the true benefits of journaling begin to surface. As we expand and examine our thoughts, we discover ideas we weren’t previously aware of. This helps us recognize shortcomings we need to improve and strengths we can take advantage of.
A quick google search for “journal prompts” reveals there’s no shortage of prompts online. They’re a great way to start a journaling practice, and there are a huge variety of prompts out there.
I share prompts online with the hope of helping new journalers become a bit better each day. There are also prompts for creative writers, entrepreneurs, and parents. We’re always a google search away from tons of prompts to help us get started.
Ask Relevant Questions and Answer Honestly
Once we get past the first few sentences, words begin to flow much easier onto the page. Journal prompts are an awesome way to open up our minds and get the pen moving. Unfortunately, they aren’t always relevant to our own lives or personal growth.
Exploring ideas through journaling is a great practice, but if the ideas and context aren’t relevant, then it’s hard to discover practical takeaways.
Asking questions is the best way to keep journaling relevant. At the end of the day, a prompt is just a question. If we can take something we’re struggling with and turn it into a question, we can journal about it.
It can be simple. “Why am I feeling X”? Or “Why does y bother me so much”? Even something like “How can I create a better life”? is great.
From there, we can let our brains take over. The questions we have about our own thoughts and feelings become prompts that help us journal about important themes in our lives. All we have to do is remember to write them down.
Use Big Life Events as a Trigger to Journal
Another great thing to journal about is big events in life. We love to make new years resolutions, set goals, and look back at old photos on our phones when an anniversary comes up. We can also leverage these instincts to capture transitions and important chapters of our lives with journaling.
At the end of the year, we can do a year-end review and write about the things that went well, things we enjoyed, and the things that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped or wish we did less of. We can use this information to journal about the future and plan out the year ahead as well.
We can do this type of journaling for any big event. Moving, changing jobs, entering or exiting a relationship, the loss of a loved one, or the beginning of a new friendship all provide a great trigger to journal.
This type of journaling is useful for learning about ourselves, but it also serves as a cool time capsule. We can look back at every big moment and remember what things were like before a “new normal” sets in.
Combine Context & Questions
We can also journal about ideas and concepts we come across in podcasts, books, and articles. It’s one thing to be exposed to a new idea, but sitting down to write about it helps us remember, understand, and apply new ideas.
Just as we did before, we can ask ourselves questions about the new insights we’ve been exposed to so we can trick our brain into starting the writing process.
The common theme throughout all of these journaling practices is just getting the pen moving on the page so we can explore thoughts that are deeper than our typical surface-level thinking.
Using these techniques, we can easily start writing once we sit down to journal. Remembering to journal regularly is a whole new challenge.
A Practical Resource to Become a Bit Better Each Day
Any time I journal, I feel amazing, and often discover something new about myself. Even with all the benefits, it’s tough to stay consistent.
I always found newsletters were a good trigger for me to journal. I would discover a new idea or quote and use that as a reminder to write some thoughts down. After months of doing this with other newsletters, I decided to create my own. I wanted to deliver ideas about personal growth and journal prompts in one package as a starter kit for new journalers.
If you’re looking for a helpful resource to get started, you can check out the archive for Prompted to see all the previous prompts.
Now on to some additional strategies for staying consistent with a journal practice.
How to Stay Consistent
Knowing how to journal is one thing, but actually doing it is another. Like exercise, meditation, and many other worthwhile pursuits, journaling’s benefits come from consistent practice over time.
There are plenty of books and resources dedicated to building habits, but here I’ll share a few specific suggestions, examples, and resources specific to creating a consistent journaling practice.
Create a Daily Journal Structure
As mentioned above, using a structured approach to journaling lowers the barrier to entry. It makes it easy to get words down on the page. I shared the structure I use every morning to get my juices flowing, but you should create a daily journaling structure that fits into your life.
I do this type of everyday journaling on my computer because I can easily reuse the template and organize all of my daily journals going back to 2019.
Another trick for daily journals is creating a heuristic time parameter for ourselves (i.e. journal before breakfast). Otherwise, we keep pushing it off to later in the day, and as the day goes on, our willpower declines.
This means the morning is the best time for our daily journaling. We can win the day by getting our thoughts down on paper early, and the clarity will stay with us throughout the rest of the day.
Leverage Reoccurring Prompts or Reflection
Daily journaling is great for a quick gut check and planning the day ahead, but it’s often not enough for a deeper examination of what’s going on in our lives.
It’s hard to see the picture when we’re in the frame, so leveraging bigger picture prompts that we come back to at regular intervals is a great way to zoom out and see the entire landscape of our lives. Through the lens of personal growth, these journals typically compare what we said we were going to do with what we actually ended up doing.
We can investigate the discrepancies and see where we’re excelling and where we need to bring more intention or energy. This type of journaling helps us consistently look at the big picture and creates another reason to pull out our journals.
Keep Friends Close, But Your Journal Closer
The same way we put our keys next to the door so we don’t forget them on our way out, we should put our journal in strategic locations so it always stays accessible and top of mind.
For a physical journal, we can leave it on the top of our desk with a pen at the ready. Some of the world’s best writers and thinkers have a notebook or a journal they can keep in their back pocket and bring everywhere. It’d be wise of us to do the same.
These concepts also apply in the digital world. Before we close our computers at the end of the day, we can close all of the tabs except the one we use for journaling. When we wake up the next day, our journal will be right there waiting for us.
Similarly, on our phones, we can make sure the app we use for journaling is on our home screen. Or better yet, we can use widgets to make our journals take up half the screen. That way, every time we open our phone, we’re reminded of our journal, and we can easily open it up and start writing when we need to.
Buy a Journal and a Pen You Enjoy Using
Writing on a piece of scrap paper with a bic pen is not very satisfying or fulfilling. We all like different types of pens and paper, but the more enjoyable the physical process of writing is, the more we’ll want to pick up our pen and journal.
Intentionally choosing a journal and a pen creates an aura of importance that helps focus our writing and elevates the experience of the writing. The same way buying new sneakers or new workout clothes helps us get to the gym, quality pens and paper can help us journal more consistently.
Create External Accountability
Accountability is one of the most impactful ways to stay consistent with anything. We can set an alarm in the morning, but unless we have to meet a friend or make a flight, odds are we’ll end up hitting the snooze button more often than not.
We can set reminders for ourselves to journal, and they’ll work for a few days. Once we get used to them, we gloss over the notifications, and soon we get so used to ignoring them that we don’t even realize they’re still there. Our individual willpower is easy to thwart, but external accountability makes it easy to stay consistent.
Journaling is a private affair, so creating a group with friends to stay accountable can be difficult. I’ve always wanted to create a sense of community surrounding the individual practice of journaling, and through my journaling newsletter, I’ve been able to kill two birds with one stone.
Not only is there a community of hundreds of journalers who subscribe, but every Sunday we all journal about the same idea. Some like to share their thoughts with everyone, and others like to keep theirs private, but the knowledge that we’re all journaling together provides an awesome sense of accountability and community that makes Sunday afternoon journaling a consistent habit.
The Only Thing Left is to Start
Journaling is highly personal. Everyone does it a bit differently, but it can benefit all of us. It’s one of the most power tools we have to fuel our own growth, but just like most worthwhile pursuits, it takes a little work to see the results.
We have to keep writing when it feels strange or useless and trust that the more we keep writing, the more we’ll uncover. And the more we uncover, the more we come back day after day, and the easier it will get.
Insights and Prompts to get Started
In the spirit of jumping right in, I’ve included some thoughts about the idea of giving others “the benefit of the doubt” and related prompts below. Give it a read, find a blank page, and get to writing.
Benefit of the Doubt
Every time we interact with someone we are interacting with a lifetime of their experience. Every moment of our lives shapes the person we are, the knowledge we have, the opinions we hold, and what we believe to be the truth.
As such, the truth is relative. Each person has their own version of the truth informed by their experience of life.
Some people believe humans are inherently evil and they have a lifetime of experience to prove that claim. Others believe that humans are inherently good and have just as much evidence to back it up.
Who’s to say either of these people is wrong?
Even if there is one overarching truth that transcends individual experience, it’s difficult to believe anything that doesn’t align with our lifetime of opinions, learnings, and unique versions of the truth.
Imagine discovering the world is round through an obscure calculation and trying to convince your friends, who walk around on flat ground all day, that the earth is actually round. You’d be labeled a crazy person immediately.
You could show them all your observations and calculations, but since they don’t align with anyone’s lifetime of experience, they probably wouldn’t believe you.
In each interaction between two people, two versions of the truth are coming together and commingling.
Every time we sit down to have a conversation we should remember each person has a lifetime of unique experiences that have built their worldview. Odds are that a huge portion of those experiences have been very different from our own.
Whatever opinions or ideas we have are evidence-backed by the life we’ve lived. If we disagree with someone else or notice something they say is “wrong” in our own view of what the “truth” is, it’s helpful to remember two things:
- No matter how much evidence and logic we provide, it’s impossible to override a worldview constructed over decades with a few well-spoken points.
- Whatever someone else believes, whether we think it’s wrong, inefficient, detrimental to themselves, or any other number of things, they’ve arrived at that belief the same we arrived at ours.
It’s my belief (and feel free to disagree with me here) that most people have good intentions and are simply acting on what they believe to be the best course of action for themselves and those they care about based on their experience of the world.
Whether you agree with my view of people or not, we can all benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt. If we investigate what shaped someone’s current mindset instead of trying to prove that our way of thinking is better, we could better understand others and connect with them on a deeper level.
- Do I assume positive intent when I think about the actions of others?
- What projects am I working on right now? How have my previous experiences informed my approach to these efforts?
- What do I disagree with other people about the most? Why does my belief differ from others?
(See the original post here)
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out
I like connecting with new people just as much as I love journaling. If you have questions about journaling or ideas surrounding personal growth, reach out! (email@example.com)
I’d love to chat with ya and hear your perspective on anything and everything.
I hope this was a helpful guide to kick off your journaling practice, and maybe I’ll see you in your inbox sometime soon ????
Thanks for reading!
Originally published on https://kevinbronander.com
When was the last time you checked you had the right colors for your brand?
I don’t mean to dampen your spirits, so I’ll caveat this piece by saying these are obviously just my views on the matter and at no point in time should they be taken as fact. With that said, if you operate on the same wavelength of conceptualizing, as I do, I’d love to hear from you.
WW2? Go deeper.
European colonisation? Deeper.
- search, decide and purchase a domain
- organise and purchase a hosting plan
- purchase a page builder, unless you know how to code
- create and execute your brand, design and message
- organise website maintenance
Having ducked and weaved through the masses of Beijing and Shanghai, I was aching for that unique Chinese experience. One that didn’t liken China to a massive super power, taking over western civilisation. Something that represented the country at its roots.
Like me, if you are searching for a truly unique experience during your travels in China, then look no further than the Ultimate Guide to the Shaolin Experience.
How to get to the Shaolin Monastery from Beijing
The Shaolin Monastery falls in the city of Dengfeng (Henan province), which is close to a 2-hour journey (via the high speed trains) from Beijing. If you’re exploring the North-East and you’ve decided to travel to the Shaolin Temple, make sure you get the train to Zhengzhou from Beijing. You can take the bullet or high speed train, which will get you to Zhengzhou in just over 2 hours. Alternatively (and my personal preference), take the slow train that will get you to Zhengzhou in anywhere between 5-7 hours. Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get the slow train. The sights and sounds on the way provide a genuine Chinese experience, from ghost-towns with unoccupied 20-storey high towers to the very best of rural China. Of course, 7-hours in a train means you’ve got plenty of time to mingle with your neighbours. I got dragged into an intense game of poker! Less said about the results the better. When you get to Zhengzhou, take a taxi or bus to Dengfeng. As in most cases, the public transport option is more cost effective and will give you that extra cultural experience. I took the bus and it was a nice smooth ride to the entry area of the Temple precinct. Either mode of transport will get you to temple in no more than 2 hours.
Songshan Mountain/Shaolin Precinct
To enter the temple area you will have to pay 100 yuan (about $20 Australian dollars). The main Temple area is about a 20-30 minute walk from the entry gates, so make sure you’ve got your walking shoes on. As a photographer, I am continuously looking for inspiration and out of that need, I’ve come to the conclusion that inspiration is borne in individuality and uniqueness. So if you are looking for an unique experience in China, here’s your perfect Shaolin itinerary.
Where to stay in the Shaolin Precinct
I recommend allocating 3 days/2 nights to gain the complete Shaolin experience. One of the most unique experiences I had in China was staying in the small kung-fu village about 20 minute’s walk from the temple precinct. The humble village is where budding Shaolin masters practice their art, but also a place for them rest and rejuvenate. The Kung Fu hostel is the perfect place to spend a couple of nights in the village.
The village is small but it comes equipped with convenience stores, restaurants and transportation to and from the temple precinct. Venture into some of the family owned make-shift restaurants. With a generous assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, from garlic vegetables to pork noodle soup, they will do their best to cater to anyone that comes in peace.
The Shaolin Kung Fu Show
The famous martial arts show is an extraordinary ensemble of skills and discipline, as well as an opportunity for brave crowd members to get involved in the act. Many of the students are taught in the local school at the precinct, a short walk from the Martial Arts hall.
I recall a surreal moment when one of the students put on amazing impromptu display of martial arts with a steel-rope. A crowd of his peers gathered around the budding monk, watching in silence as he rolled, ducked and jumped, but the greatest mark of appreciation came from his teacher, standing arms folded behind his back, watching in admiration. It’s times like these that make the hours of slogging around a SLR all worth it. See image above. Make the most of your time in the precinct, wander around the temple, schools and halls and you are bound to capture something truly unique.
There is a set structure to the shows, so make sure you plan ahead. The school will typically host 6 shows during the day, the first beginning at 9:00am and the last at 4:00pm. Check before you travel as seasonal changes do occur.
Visit Mount Song and Dharma Cave
The temple area sits neatly among the Songshan Mountain ranges. With many surrounding peaks and treks, some longer and more difficult than others, the region is truly a hikers delight. The Dharma cave walk was suggested to us by the lovely Hostel hostess. Buddhists believe that Bodhidharma arrived from India and introduced Zen Buddhisim to China after meditating for years in the cave – now appropriately known as Dharma Cave.
Approximately 7km one way, the trek up Mt. Songshan is certainly not long by hiking standards but be aware, a significant portion of the climb does involve steep (and I mean really steep!) staircases – which makes for a fantastic work out to burn off all those noodle soups and dim sims! – which was certainly the case for me. My friend and I elected to chow down some noodles before the steep journey ahead in a conveniently located take-out place at the beginning of the climb. On a less lighter note, the steps are certainly not for the faint-hearted, so if you are carrying any niggling physical issues, you may want to sit this one out.
The mountains are not immune to the Chinese street seller syndrome, so prepare yourself to be encouraged to purchase incense sticks, key chains, jewellery and of course, food! If your answer is “no” to all of the above then perhaps a photo? Everyone loves a family portrait! The man in the Tiger claw mould actually gave us a lift back to Zhenzhou! We met him on the walk. It’s not always recommended to take lifts from strangers but we felt we’d assessed the crowd well, so this adventure was definitely on!
As you ascend, remember to look back from time-to-time because the views over the ranges are exceptional. Dharma himself will meet you at the peak, meditating, as he looks over the Songshan mountain ranges. Away from the selfie sticks, baseball caps and waiting lines below, the Dharma Cave experience provides the peace and harmony that you typically associate with places of worship. The cave is usually accompanied with a sitter who will help you pass on any gifts, flowers, incense etc. that you have to offer.
Just after the sun had set behind the ranges, we began our journey down the mountain and back to the hostel. I recall embracing a new found feeling of wonder after our meeting with Bodhidharma. Having spent time in Shanghai and Beijing, I needed a culture dose and the hike to Dharma cave certainly reunited me with that feeling. Without having to travel thousands of miles, overnight or by flight, this was the alternative mainland China experience I was searching for.
Wander the Shaolin precinct
There is good chance that a morning visit to the temple will include rubbing shoulders with the masses i.e. other travellers. While incomparable to a walk down to the Bund in Shanghai, the Monastery is a major tourist attraction for nationals and as we all know, when the Chinese travel, it’s in herds.
But remaining positive, I went looking for history and inspiration around the temple grounds. Almost immediately I was taken away by the tumultuous history of the region, dating back from the 5th century to as recent as 2018, when the temple for the first time raised the national flag to make a stance on patriotism. Ultimately, after so much destruction, unrest and dispute, the Pagodas, schools, halls and temples still stand strong, reflecting the resilience of the monks and their supporters. At the foot of the Shaoshi Mountains is the remarkable Pagoda forest, an area marking the tombs of many high ranking monks and affiliates. The concentration of Pagodas date back to as early as the 8th century. In various sizes, detail and meaning, the forest is an unique example of Zen spirituality.
- Take the slow train from Beijing. You’ll be in Zhengzhou within 7 hours. Save cash, gain experience!
- Give yourself enough time to truly experience this unique part of China. Organise a 2-night stay in the Kung-Fu village, just a 20 minute walk from the temple. Wake up to students practising martial arts and indulge in some humble home-cooked cuisines
- The Kung-Fu martial arts show is a must-see. The entry fee is covered as part of your temple entry cost
- Re-connect with your spiritual side with a hike to Dharma Cave
- Immerse yourself in the Temples, Pagodas, Relics and Monuments of ancient China and the inauguration of Zen Buddhism
Originally published on https://ahimsaimages.com
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/customer/www/leakd.co/public_html/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 3507