27 Things Learned in a Year of Journaling

A year ago, I started a journal for the first time in my life, and it has been the most transformative experience of my life thus far. It has functioned as an extension of myself that I have taken with me everywhere I go. I have used my journal as a creative piece in which I have kept notes, daily schedules, pictures, simple truths, and quotes.

Here are some things that I learned…

  1. Don’t look at other people as projects but people to genuinely love.
  2. God doesn’t just want you to accept him so you won’t go to Hell, he wants to know you!
  3. Abide in Christ in and he in you. A branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides from the vine.
  4. Sometimes our problems are created by someone’s sin against us and not by our own doing.
  5. Sadness is the gateway to healing, don’t shy away from this emotion.
  6. Look through the lens of others and say, “I might do the same thing if I were them.”
  7. Give more of you, in the time you have.
  8. People desire to be free from all concern.
  9. Music that speaks to the soul has a certain nakedness to it, a vulnerability heard in the singer’s voice.
  10. Live like Pat Tillman. A man of principle.
  11. The choices we make have the power to create a personal Heaven or Hell.
  12. People generally feel their losses more than their gains.
  13. Explicit knowledge (facts) is good, but there is no greater tool than tactic knowledge (experiential knowledge).
  14. A successful life is filled with vital engagement (flow + meaning).
  15. The dream is the birthplace of thought.
  16. Do uncomfortable things every day.
  17. When you want to criticize someone’s dream, pause, then tell them all of the reasons why they will make it.
  18. The most powerful question in the universe is, “Why?” Be careful with it.
  19. We all want to be happy. The question we all need to ask is, “How long do I want to be happy for?”
  20. Profit by your mistakes.
  21. Don’t base your happiness on fortune. Fortune is fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases.
  22. Love > Knowledge.
  23. “Pleasure: cannot be sustained past the activity producing it. Happiness: can produce sustainable results” – Matthew Kelly
  24. You can get all A’s and flunk life.
  25. Some things, like a kiss, cannot be explained by the description.
  26. Hurt people, hurt people.
  27. You can never have enough of what you don’t really need.

Here are some of my favorite quotes…

“Wise men still seek Jesus today” – Matthew Kelly

“Fortune is fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases. If you take her as your mistress you have no right to be upset when she is chained to your side.” – Jonathan Haidt

“Chop your own wood, It’ll warm you twice.” – Mike Rowe

“Those who have swords and know how to use them, but keep them sheathed, shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

“A kiss cannot be explained accurately by the description. Some things are like a kiss.” – John Eldredge

“Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the only harm we do, we do to ourselves.” – Mitch Albom

“Life is rushing around doing urgent things. If you aren’t careful, your whole life will be urgent. The funny thing is, the most important things in life are hardly ever urgent at all.” – Matthew Kelly

“If breath fills your lungs, it is not too late!” – Hugh Prather

“The thing has already taken form in my mind before I begin. The first attempts are unbearable. I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of REAL DIRECTION AND REAL PURPOSE.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” – Carl Sagan

“We are the bodies of broken bones. I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chose. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search form comfort, healing, and meaning. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.” – Thomas Merton

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

“I know no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate himself by conscious endeavor.” – Henry David Thoreau



A year of this information is priceless to me. I don’t think that I could possibly have become the person I am without writing down the things I have learned. After all, we become what we constantly see and hear. I have a dream that someone will find my journal in a thousand years and understand what it must have been like to be me, living in the 21st century. Regardless, of if that happens or not, I am thankful for the freedom to write my thoughts for the next millennia to discover.


Published by

Max Yelken

A young man looking for a sustainable life of adventure in a changing world.

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