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by Matthew Kelly
4 Reasons to Try Keeping a Journal
Spread the Rosary Buzz
Growing up I heard this question a lot. Not from my parents, mostly from teachers and coaches. I went to an all-boys high school with about 1,300 guys . . . and our teachers were always talking about potential. At that time in our lives we didn’t know enough about what life was, or what was possible; in fact, we didn’t know much of anything, though we thought we did.
I’ll be 44 in a few weeks, and there is something about the onset of summer and my forthcoming birthday that gets me into a reflective mood about life. Am I living up to my potential? No. I mean, I just know I am not. Every day I fall short of my potential. I see what can be, but fail to grasp it.
The problem with potential is that it is always there and there is always more. Nobody ever reaches their full potential. Nobody ever wakes up and says, “Well, I’ve reached my potential, so I’m gonna take the day off.” People tend to react to the idea of potential in two ways:
Both responses are an overreaction.
From time to time, it is good and healthy for us to think about what we are capable of compared to where we are in various aspects of life. We usually discover that there is a gap and we do have some dormant potential. Let it motivate you.
Pick one area of your life to focus on this summer. There is something about us human beings, we are most fully alive when we are growing, changing, developing, and chasing down our potential.
So, let’s make it a great summer. And if you are looking for some summer reading, I highly recommend Gary Zimak’s book of daily reflections, Stop Worrying and Start Living.
May God bless you and all those you love with the wisdom to approach potential sensibly,
A real person is at peace and remains joyful no matter what life’s circumstances bring.
— From “You're Amazing” by Justin Fatica
How do you define being “real”? What is a real person? The way I look at it, a real person is always genuine and authentic, and is all around a person of integrity—he is who he is, no matter where he is. This person has nothing to hide, nothing to fear, and nothing to lose. A real person is at peace and remains joyful no matter what life’s circumstances bring. As the old hymn exclaims, “No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that refuge clinging, since Christ is Lord of Heaven and earth how can I keep from singing?” A real person knows that as long as she is real about who she is, who God is, and how that relationship is growing, nothing can shake her. That is reason for hope; that is a recipe for fulfillment. But does the idea of such “realness” seem impossible or intimidating to you? Many of us balk at it in today’s world, because we have an image we still feel the need to cling to. Others of us may be on board (hey, it kind of sounds like a trendy cleanse), only to lose our nerve when anxiety sets in. Perhaps we will accidentally become too real. It is natural to resist feeling vulnerable, open to societal judgment, and permanently out of one’s comfort zone—essentially, being spiritually and emotionally naked.
Well, here is the naked truth: I discovered that if a person decides to hand his or her life over to God—and I mean completely—then that person is an example of what it means to be real. I don’t know if you have made that decision, but if you have, you have a good shot at living an amazing life, because being real is step one. As we go through these five life-changing steps, we will discover just how to hand our lives over to God. But don’t make your decision just yet—start by being real; it can’t kill you!
“Realness” in front of God is the ultimate confidence. There is no shame in nakedness when we are naked in front of our Creator—he knows us better than we know ourselves anyway. We never have to be afraid when we allow God to take charge. He is our rock: “He is my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me. For you are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me” (Psalm 18:2).
. . .
It’s one thing to be real with yourself, but to be real with others is an equally important component. Sharing your personal story, your suffering, your battles, your humanness, however ugly or embarrassing you think they are, is what enables you to advance ever closer toward a life of peace with yourself, others, and God.
Being this level of real isn’t easy today; our world sometimes seems like one grand masquerade party. Everyone’s photos are filtered to gain more likes on Instagram; males and females alike go so far as to edit images of themselves with Photoshop or whatever the latest trend is until they are nearly unrecognizable.
You see it everywhere you turn: politicians, celebrities, cliques at school or work. We are insecure and more self-involved than ever. Maybe we aren’t intentionally hiding our brokenness, but we are flaunting our assets in order to garner attention, which is equally fraudulent on the “levels of fakeness” spectrum. We dance the dance because we want to build a following—a fan base centered around us. We want to be adored. We want to be celebrated. Whether or not we realize it, what we want is artificial gratification, which will only leave us empty in the end. Isn’t it sad that many of us have been told that our worth and beauty are dependent on the way we portray ourselves to the (cyber) world? Isn’t it a shame that we think we need add-ons and filters so that others will love us? But if we want to be content with who we are, we can’t give in to the false affirmations offered on social media when we flaunt our exterior life. We need to be ourselves inside and out if we want to be fulfilled and satisfied with our lives.
The fakeness at this point has become so prevalent. For those of us who choose to be real and transparent, we’ve got our work cut out for us, but don’t let your spirit be dampened by the overwhelming odds. I challenge you to take off your own masks and get “naked.” If you are real with others, they are more likely to let you in, and if you pursue them with authentic love and keep digging deeper, they might even ask you to help them discard their masks.
Quote to remember: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” —Steve Jobs
Time for God: Get a notebook or a journal or open the notes app on your phone. Ask God to help you gain deeper fulfillment by revealing to you the areas in your life where you need to “get naked.” Make a list of three things you want to get real about, and pray for God to give you the grace and strength to confront these areas.
Make it count: Consider finding a mentor or spiritual director you can meet with regularly. Read this book and share with him or her your experiences as you walk through it together. If you cannot find a mentor or spiritual director, find a companion to walk through it with you. Amazing things will happen when you go two by two.
When it comes to keeping a journal, you may think it takes too much time, too much effort, or only makes sense if you’re actually a writer. But there are actually four great benefits to journaling that may make you want to pick up a pen and a notebook.
Studies show the emotional release that comes from journaling lowers stress and anxiety and promotes better sleep. Journaling also helps you express yourself and increases your awareness of self and others. Since expressive writing helps you process your thoughts and emotions, it’s no surprise that it also helps to boost your immune system and attain greater peace and calm.
Whether you possess a mind like a steel trap or a mind like a sieve, journaling helps to preserve moments, reflections, and life events that might otherwise be forgotten. The act of writing something down sears it in the mind, and re-reading it later not only helps you recall it, but often triggers other memories associated with it. Retaining and recalling the special moments of our lives becomes more and more important as we age, and a journal can make sure nothing is lost.
Writing down your thoughts and experiences not only helps you remember them, but it also helps you come up with new ideas. Writing regularly allows you to process and communicate ideas, which can help you see things in a new way. Julia Cameron, author of the bestselling book The Artist’s Way, encourages something called “Morning Pages,” which is three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning. Many who write morning pages claim it unlocks thoughts and ideas they never knew they had. No matter what time of day you journal, it can help spark your creativity.
The very act of setting aside time to journal is an act of discipline. And becoming more disciplined is like working a muscle—the more you do something, the more disciplined you become. Habits like daily journaling have a way of helping you to improve other areas of your life—from keeping your desk tidy to making time for prayer.
If you’ve never considered keeping a journal, these are just a few reasons to give it a try. After all, who doesn’t need more creativity, healing, and discipline in their life?
Not ready for daily journaling? Try keeping a Mass journal. You can request a free one from Dynamic Catholic (just pay shipping), but any small notebook will suffice. Bring it to Mass with you next Sunday. As you walk into church, greet God and ask him, “God, show me one way in this Mass I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week.” Then listen.
Listen to the music, listen to the readings, listen to the preaching, listen to the prayers, and listen to the quiet of your heart. One thought or idea, one challenge or invitation will jump out at you. Write it down. Just one thing. Not five things, not sixteen pages of scribbling notes. Just the one thing. Write it down on its own page, and date it. Then spend the rest of Mass praying about how you can live out that one idea in the coming week. You will go home from Mass focused, energized, and invigorated.
#showyourbeads #rediscovertheRosary #whyIpray peace and mercy for the world Jesus I Trust In You pic.twitter.com/CJ686djc11— Mick (@Dreamer83) May 25, 2017
#showyourbeads #rediscovertheRosary #whyIpray peace and mercy for the world Jesus I Trust In You pic.twitter.com/CJ686djc11
The ingredient for a life filled with peace, no matter the obstacles. #WhyIPray #RediscoverTheRosary— Anne Webb (@annealytical) May 23, 2017
The ingredient for a life filled with peace, no matter the obstacles. #WhyIPray #RediscoverTheRosary
@stitcherdragon #ShowYourBeads #WhyIPray for my family pic.twitter.com/xQVVBKi4vr— Karen Connell (@litlbitofgrace) May 11, 2017
@stitcherdragon #ShowYourBeads #WhyIPray for my family pic.twitter.com/xQVVBKi4vr
5 Million Rosaries-Pledge to Pray- Together we can make a difference! #DynamicCatholic #RediscoverTheRosary #ShowYourBeads #WhyIPray— Jessica Nixon (@tesorita2) May 10, 2017
5 Million Rosaries-Pledge to Pray- Together we can make a difference! #DynamicCatholic #RediscoverTheRosary #ShowYourBeads #WhyIPray
https://t.co/igT1WCPV5l#RediscoverTheRosary pic.twitter.com/fUoWv1pnse— Sacred Heart YM (@SHMaqYM) May 23, 2017
Joining @DynamicCatholic #5MillionRosaries #RediscoverTheRosary— Rebecca Vowell (@rrvowell) April 11, 2017
Joining @DynamicCatholic #5MillionRosaries #RediscoverTheRosary
Excited to join @DynamicCatholic in praying 5 million rosaries! #showyourbeads #rediscovertherosary pic.twitter.com/1Sn8rMgrJH— Michelle Wuensch (@MichelleWuensch) April 5, 2017
Excited to join @DynamicCatholic in praying 5 million rosaries! #showyourbeads #rediscovertherosary pic.twitter.com/1Sn8rMgrJH
#WhyIPray Meditating on the rosary keeps my focus on God & my efforts to do his will every day.— Fastgranny (@Fastgranny68) May 22, 2017
#WhyIPray Meditating on the rosary keeps my focus on God & my efforts to do his will every day.
Baby Bakita #showyourbeads pic.twitter.com/hy5kwQ5Ddp— ʎoɹnpɹoɔ ɹǝʇsıɯ (@Mistercorduroy) April 25, 2017
Baby Bakita #showyourbeads pic.twitter.com/hy5kwQ5Ddp
@DynamicCatholic #showyourbeads #rediscovertheRosary #whyIpray The Harris family beads pic.twitter.com/J2406MhfEf— Lisa Harris (@FWCatholicmom) May 25, 2017
@DynamicCatholic #showyourbeads #rediscovertheRosary #whyIpray The Harris family beads pic.twitter.com/J2406MhfEf
Here they are! My first rosary that I received at Confirmation this past Easter. @DynamicCatholic #rcia #rediscovertheRosary #showyourbeads pic.twitter.com/QeVLzYGxyB— Stacey Roode (@StaceyRoode) May 25, 2017
Here they are! My first rosary that I received at Confirmation this past Easter. @DynamicCatholic #rcia #rediscovertheRosary #showyourbeads pic.twitter.com/QeVLzYGxyB
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Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.