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A publication from Medium on personal development.


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Self-improvement through moral self-examination

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

Journaling for self-improvement is popular today but it builds on a tradition of moral self-examination that goes all the back to ancient Greece and Rome. This article describes a simple method of daily reflection, which was well-known in antiquity. It was first described in a poem called The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, based upon the doctrines of the famous 6th century BC philosopher. However, it was later assimilated into Stoicism, as we’ll see.

Arrian and Stoicism

The most famous Stoic teacher of all, Epictetus, wrote nothing. His words were transcribed and edited by a Roman citizen, called Arrian of Nicomedia, the capital city…

I’d be mortified if anyone read my daily tasks from the past year

Photo: Grace Cary/Getty Images

A lot of people despise the tyrannical, never-ending nature of to-do lists. I am not one of them. To-do lists have always imbued a sense of order into my world. To-do lists keep track of things I can’t. In my life, to-do lists are a friend, not a foe.

About a year ago, I switched back to a paper and pen to write my daily list. Life in pandemic shutdown was simply too overwhelming and too dominated by screens to continue using my phone’s Notes app to keep track of each bizarre day. …

Advice from a Forge reader on how to keep going

Older man writing with a cup of coffee.
Older man writing with a cup of coffee.
Photo: Hill Street Studios / Getty Images

I wrote recently for Forge about keeping a journal and why, even if you don’t know it, you actually really want to. And, as often happens here in the Mediumverse, a reader’s response to the piece offered some really great advice for how to get started.

Roy Cook writes about the way he’s made journaling a habit he can stick with:

I quit many times. Until I developed a system through much trial-and-error.

That has all changed now. I paid a lot of attention to excellent advice from Benjamin Hardy and Ryan Holiday.

To make it easier, I created a…

There has never been a more important time to record your life

Young woman writing on notebook at sunset in park.
Young woman writing on notebook at sunset in park.
Photo: Mengwen Cao/Getty Images

Here are the three things I know for sure: 1) Sleep fixes everything; 2) one must always read the book before seeing the movie; and 3) journaling will save your life.

Number three, I know, is the most controversial. It has come to my attention that some people dislike the idea of journaling, seeing it as yet another daily obligation to eventually fail at and then feel bad about (Exercise! Meditate! Drink water! DOES IT EVER END?). And sure, a journal can feel like a weird futile to-do to try to shoehorn into a busy life. Write things down. Why…

You might feel like life is mundane and you have nothing significant to say right now. Keep a journal anyway.

A photo of a woman writing in her journal while her laptop is on her lap.
A photo of a woman writing in her journal while her laptop is on her lap.
Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

These are scary times, but they’re not exactly exciting ones. Unless counting toilet paper rolls is your idea of a raging Friday night, you’re probably not living your most thrilling life right now. So why in the world would you want to record it?

It’s a fair question. But weirdly, I can’t think of a better — or more necessary — time to start journaling.

First, there’s the big-picture rationale: We’re in an unprecedented time in American history. If, like me, you’re fascinated by stories of how people lived during World War II or after earthquakes or through the Depression…

How journaling can help you find small things to be grateful for

Photo: Leonardo De La Cuesta/Getty Images

The week before I started gratitude journaling, I was on a bus tour in Southern Iceland with my boyfriend of about a year. With an Instax camera he’d bought me for my birthday, I snapped puffins and black sand beaches and double rainbows stretched across waterfalls, knowing even then that this would be one of the best trips of my life. Days later, I returned to the most spacious apartment I ever lived in, laying the palm-sized photos on my bed for a quick Instagram.

And I cried. I cried in that heaving, shaking, hollow way. When I tried to…

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