I haven’t done much personal, scientific research in this field but I’m pretty sure anthropologists agree that we, humans, are, generally speaking, meant to copy one another. Granted, we also improvise and adapt, otherwise we’d still be living in caves but as a general rule we tend to look at the behaviour of others and mimic it.
Why? To not die. Seeing a compatriot get eaten by a lion makes us wary of large felines. Seeing one of our cavemates eat a hearty meal of fruit makes us want the same. This was all great back in the day but we’ve moved on a little. By and large we’ve sussed the physical aspects of humaning. Now it’s don’t get hit by a car, eat quinoa and kale for a long life etc., and that’s all great to a certain extent. Where it falls down is getting to the next level, personally, psychologically. Copying safe behaviours from other people lets us live to fight another day, without which we can’t get to the next level but there’s more to it.
A while ago I wrote a post (my first in fact) about how bad I am at keeping travel journals. This still stands. However, in recent times I have read a lot of posts, books, and watched videos about the merits of journaling, general daily journaling. It helps with focus, prioritisation, creativity, gratitude, mindfulness, in fact there’s not much it doesn’t help with. I thought “Fuck yeah! I’ll have some of that!” [you can see where this is going, right?] and promptly started journaling. I religiously wrote down 10 ideas [Tim Ferriss] and my 3 MITs (Most Important Things) and 3 things I was grateful for, every single day. I did this for ages. It must have been at least 3 days. Then I stopped.
I still think that having 3 MITs is a really good idea but journaling clearly isn’t for me. I’ve tried doing it for travelling and I’ve tried a daily practice. I just don’t want it in my life badly enough to follow through. What did I do instead? You’re reading it. I was inspired by things I read in Tools of Titans and started this blog. And you, my friend, are reading my 31st consecutive daily post! It stuck! The Good Shit Stucketh! I feel like bloody Edison and his lightbulb. This is my journaling. I think about it as I go about my day. I write down ideas to write about later. It inspires me to explore my existence more than I otherwise might. It’s my journal. I love it and it works. Hallelujah! Let there be dancing in the streets.
What’s my point for you dear reader? My point is read, read, read, get inspired, think, learn, do, but don’t slavishly copy. Take what works and shamelessly use it for personal benefit but drop what doesn’t. It is really difficult. It is so easy to read about an idea and try cookie-cuttering it into your life. Don’t. Try it out by all means but keep a very open mind. There’s a fine line between perseverance and bloody mindedness. Learn where your line is.
*Picture thanks to Bobby Parker‘s blog