My suggestion is a contrarian truth that most people never realise let alone understand. There is only one book that can holistically shape your character and it’s written by the most important author to have ever existed in your life.
A daily journal written by you.
I’ve read thousands of books but few of them have any meaningful impact on the way I live my life or my character. That’s not to say the things I have read haven’t rocked me to the core, affected me emotionally or altered my personal disposition. On the contrary, everything I have ever consumed has had meaning on some level. Whether the book teaches something revolutionary or waffles on for 400 pages, lessons can be taken from anywhere. Unfortunately, sometimes that lesson is the stark realisation that not everything needs to be said.
Irrespective of whether the message they convey comes with deep meaning or not, the things we read often has no influence on the way we view the world or live our day to day lives. It’s because unless we internalise the teachings of the text we will never appreciate or realise it’s importance. Or they affect us momentarily before we revert to who we have always been.
There is another prevailing reason for this; we tend to read the things that confirm our own biases never giving ourselves the opportunity to alter our thinking. We never expose ourselves to unfamiliar materials whereby opening our minds to the alternative of the opinions you hold dear. By opening your mind to the antithesis of your thinking you can uncover holes in your reasoning. Only by understanding the problems can you improve and develop. Never become so entrenched in your thinking that you will defend them blindly, by understanding the reasons against your argument you become cognisant of other people’s perceptions.
And this is where a journal comes in.
In terms of holistically shaping my career it has no peers. It effectively summarises my linear thinking through elaboration on the things that make me who I am on a daily basis. It is a journey of what I have done, read and seen. It enables me to track the subtle idiosyncrasies of my charachter which are fluid and ever changing allowing me to understand who I am and why I do the things I do.
A journal is life affirming, inspirational and brilliantly frightening. It takes time to become confortable exposing your vulnerability to blank pages. Recording your happiest and most upsetting moments is exhausting, it can be dangerous, but nothing has ever been so cathartic to me. One added benefit is that it enables you to better understand what experiences, people, tasks and locations make you happy. That is a critical element of the creative process of keeping a journal. Most people fail to realise the things that actually make them happy.
My journal is my solace, it knows who I am without ever judging what I have done. It can’t lie to you if you are open to it, it merely reflects your thinking whether you want it to or not. Retrospect has often been the source of my greatest inspiration. My ideas are emboldened by the thoughts and desires I had five years ago and they all feed into today.
And it doesn’t just have to be writing, allow yourself to become shamelessly creative. Draw and sketch your obscene ideas, throw words at a page hoping for things to stick and develop, allow it to become a part of you which lets you grow in so many other areas. Whether you sketch, draw, write, take photos or anything else, the output is less important than the process. Journaling is the vehicle to personal understanding.
Life moves so fast and we forget to stop, look around and enjoy the view. We hop from one life milestone to the next without recognition of the things we have achieved. The modern world can leave us feeling empty and detached.
A journal bridges the gap.
To be shaped by the thinking of others without prior understanding of who you are can be hazardous. A journal lets you try those ideas on, respect them for what they are, and consciously subject their applicability to your thinking. People mindlessly attribute labels to who they are without considering what that means they have become. A journal is a safe place to develop your thinking and evolve to become the best version of who you want to be.
That’s why reading anyone else’s book shouldn’t alter your character, and why your journal is a path to realising who you are and what must change.
If we don’t know what we like and dislike about ourselves how can we know our character is being altered positively.
Get writing and enjoy the ride.
You’ll soon realise how truly wonderful it is to meet yourself for the first time.
Enjoyed the read? I’d really appreciate if you clicked the ❤ below to recommend it to other interested readers!