In our Discord community we’ve received a few questions pertaining to our Stoic Journaling program. Most frequently, that question is: why did you start this?
I’ll answer that question in this post.
1. Because journaling consistently is hard
We know journaling is a Stoic practice, and if Marcus Aurelius isn’t enough to convince us of that we can look to others, like Pierre Hadot who says,
“From the point of view of the imminence of death, one thing counts, and one alone: to strive always to have the essential rules of life present in one’s mind, and to keep placing oneself in the fundamental disposition of the philosopher, which consists essentially in controlling one’s inner discourse, in doing only that which is of benefit to the human community, and in accepting the events brought to us by the course of the Nature of the All. (Pierre Hadot)Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel
If the need to “control your inner discourse” doesn’t suggest the value of daily journaling for the contemporary (or ancient) Stoic, I don’t know what does!
Maybe you’ve tried to journal before. If so, how long did you stick with it? I don’t know what your answer is but I can tell you that I, personally, have about five Moleskine notebooks around my house that are 10% used and then discarded because, once you start and stop a journaling practice you can’t then restart using the same book you last failed to fill. That’s just too embarrassing, right? 😂
Journaling feels odd. You’re by yourself, in your living room, home office, or bedroom, with a pencil or pen and a blank page staring you in the face and all you can think of is:
“This is dumb. what am I a pre-teen with a sticker-covered diary about to complain about my uncool parents?”–You, probably, when journaling for the first time
And this probably isn’t unlike how it feels to start doing any sort of new “spiritual exercise” (which journaling sort of is). I bet if you’ve ever tried meditating it feels equally odd the first time; and you’ve probably started and stopped that practice equally as many times as journaling!
Community is important when trying to keep a new habit, because community reinforces the idea that you’re not actually alone trying this new awkward-feeling thing, and that there are millions of others all over the world who are also trying! If you know about all those others, you feel less silly and more like someone trying to start a new worthwhile habit.
So the first reason we started this program is because keeping up a new practice is difficult when you feel like you’re the only one doing it.
2. Because it’s not immediately apparent what you ought to be journaling about
So you’ve got a journal, great! Now what? It’s day one of your new practice and what are you supposed to write about? What insights are you supposed to uncover as the person who is in need of those insights? Journaling is partly about personal growth, and if you could identify your own insights without any sort of outside input, you wouldn’t need to journal in the first place would you? It’s like trying to teach yourself math without a textbook. You can’t just invent math, and you can’t just happen upon insights without some sort of provided direction.
Our Stoic Journaling program solve this problem by giving you prompts every day. But not disjointed, random prompts, prompts that are:
- Based on Stoic texts and
- Part of a larger designed curriculum
We have created what is, essentially, a year-long course on journaling. You could also call it a self-discovery program because that’s really, at its core, what it is: self-discovery through Stoic journaling.
3. Because community helps us think better and expands our horizons
The Stoic Journaling program includes two things that we think are the “secret sauce” of a successful ongoing journaling practice:
- Access to a Discord Community of fellow journalers working through the same program
- Access to monthly live group calls where we explore some of the previous month’s prompts
It’s nice to know others are doing this with you, it’s even nicer to be able to share your entries (if you’re comfortable doing so), or make friends with people who are on the same path of self-discovery as you are. And I know “self-discovery” can sound a bit hokey, but that’s what we’re doing! We’re all trying to uncover something about ourselves, and about the world as we view it, that will help us to live more fulfilling lives and develop more virtuous characters. That’s the highest aime of Stoicism, and it’s nice to connect with and learn from other genuinely-engaged Stoics.
So if you’ve not done it yet, Join Us.
The Stoic Journaling Program is $6/mo or $60/year and includes, as I mentioned earlier, 365 Stoicism-based journaling prompts that are part of a year-long curriculum of self-discovery. Click the button below to signup!