Jamie Davis Writes


morning journaling pages

Pages From a Secret Diary Journal: Tim Ferriss’s “Replacement Beliefs”

Confessions from the pages of a secret diary journal are pictured above.  

Looking back to last December, when I was reading Tim Ferriss’s “Tools of Titans,” and working the exercise that involved listing your current handicapping beliefs and then replacing them with 2-3 new beliefs. Such a powerful journaling exercise! It is oh so raw to share the handicapping beliefs, but I will. They were: 1. Afraid of cutting a certain project out of my life for fear of how I would replace the income. 2. I don’t know how to run a “real” business. 3. I’m not creative enough. 4. I’m not good enough at networking to be successful. 5. People are only going to want to buy things at such a low cost that it won’t even make sense to be in business. The replacement beliefs are pictured.

Such a raw, powerful exercise from Mr. Ferriss! 

This secret diary journal can be purchased here

Morning Pages or Meditation? 

It turns out I have been writing morning pages longer than I have been aware that they had a name for that! Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages were made news to me last December when I picked up Tim Ferriss’s “Tools of Titans.” Before then, I just referred to my writing practice as journaling, and the practice would occur sporadically throughout the day; according to my mood; or in the evening while I tried to play catch up from the day’s events. To be fair, although I have always kept a journal, I never followed a strict, first things first policy until I heard about Cameron’s morning pages practice and decided to give her way a try.    

I still keep notes or journal throughout the day as the mood strikes me, but I do the morning pages work first as an active meditation, and to start my day off on the pattern and practice of taking care of myself first before engaging in work for others. This is me securing my own safety mask before I render help to others!

I have not done a ton of research yet into morning pages, but I am not surprised by the volume of testaments to the practice that I have read so far. Some people have gone as far as saying it is a religious experience for them – that they have found God speaking to them through their writing.

I can see that. The inner guidance and insight that comes from the morning pages practice certainly feels like it could be God, or the universe, trying to get through to me. I think that’s the big answer. Only through the quiet turning of looking inward can we get in tune and start to hear. What will a searching soul find? Will you be strong enough and wise enough to recognize what you need to change after your problems and issues are staring you in the face? Because  after two weeks of the morning pages practice I was forced to to take some accountability and action for my own life’s choices and happiness because there was no getting around the fact that I had been writing about the same whine and agonizing over the same issue. It was a powerful moment. A life changing moment (and one for the better).

I don’t do traditional passive meditation. I can sit on the back porch on a chair and listen to the wind for a few minutes, and I guess that counts, but I haven’t incorporated it into my daily habits yet. Right now, writing my morning pages is where I put my time investment and from doing that I am able to start my day completely at peace and feeling strong. I feel that for my personality type, active meditations give me the best benefit, and writing by far is the most obvious fit. There are also plenty of active meditation moments throughout the day when I try to breathe and quiet my mind, such as exercising; preparing a meal; or when grooming.    

Julia Cameron on Morning Pages in “The Miracle of Morning Pages”:

“Morning Pages are about action. Unlike conventional meditation, which may lull you out of taking action, the pages magnify our discontent, pointing out actions we could take. The pages tend to point out our many choice points. We are egged on to increase honesty and candor. Our lives become our own. We no longer sell ourselves out, giving our time and energy to others’ agenda. We have a choice whether to invest in others or ourselves. Investing in ourselves is novel for many of us.”

Because writing is an active exercise, I am more likely to become aware of changes to make or actions to take to move forward when I do the morning pages work. I agree with Cameron’s assessment of traditional meditation alone, in that I have found it to be true that it lulls me into what I feel is a dangerous spiritual complacency in the sense that yes, I am feeling good or peaceful, but in reality what that means is I’ve just taken the lazy man’s way out and adapted a coping mechanism to a problem so that I have made myself be “okay” with problems instead of making any real changes. I hate it when people don’t deal with problems, and I hate it when I’m guilty of avoidance too. I really strive to be accountable when I realize that action must be taken.

When I was transitioning out of the law firm, I used to say: “I don’t need a glass of wine. I need to change my life.” For me, coping mechanisms are dangerous because they let me get myself stuck in less than prime situations. Coping mechanisms are only to be used in the event of tragedy or other dire circumstances; or if I am just absolutely burning out, and that is how I view passive meditation. If meditation works for you, that’s great. I’m just telling you that meditation alone isn’t for me. I’ve tried it, and I get better benefits from active meditation through writing the morning pages daily.

That being said, now that I have successfully developed the sticky habit of doing the morning pages daily, I will try to combine that habit by stacking on five minutes after work in the late afternoon or early evening and see if I can make traditional meditation stick.

It will be interesting to see if I notice any changes after thirty days of stacking these habits! I have made a new habit tracker to begin tomorrow. The game is afoot. 

Pages From a Secret Diary Journal: Daniel Pink’s “Don’t List”

Confessions from the pages of a secret diary journal are pictured below. We all have way too many things on our weekly “To Do” list. Why not take a lesson from Daniel Pink and start your week with a “Don’t List?!” What a wake-up call!

Recently, a morning journaling pages exercise was done with Daniel Pink’s “Don’t List” project. The exercise of making a “Don’t List” is very freeing. The “Don’t List” is a conscious reminder of what’s really important and what we can do to take back some control over our daily lives and work flow. 


Some favorites from the “Don’t List” pictured above included:

1. Don’t be in such a rush to start your day that you don’t start first by doing your morning journaling pages. 

2. Don’t be distracted by the phone while working. Turn the ringer off. Return calls only after you have met your top three work tasks for the day. 

3. Don’t take meetings when the purpose can be accomplished by having a short call instead. 

This secret diary journal can be purchased here. 

Benefits of Daily Journaling and Indexing: You’re A-Z Guide

Archive your life 

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

Important things are happening. You are thinking and doing important things. Your future self will want to remember them! Indexing your daily journal or daily diary is the best way to ensure you can find your important notes later. In addition to indexing, use tabs to mark the entries of utmost importance.

Be a Better Communicator

Writing forces you to express yourself in clear and concrete terms that will help you in your personal and business relationships. The practice can help you slice through unnecessary details and give you the confidence you’ll need to quickly get to the crux of the matter in any situation.


Your journal is your safe space to try out new ideas without having to get approval from another person. Throw things out and see what sticks. Maybe you want to brainstorm new business ideas or just write about the book you are reading. Maybe you wake up and just feel like drawing different colored shapes with markers. Do it! See James Altucher’s piece on 10 ideas per day ( to get those juices flowing! Then, index your good ideas in your daily journal so you can easily reference them later. Indexing your daily journal after you make your relevant entries will no doubt serve you well later.

Declutter Your Mind

Do your three pages of writing every morning and get everything out of your mind. Those negative thoughts — you know the ones. The thoughts that nag away at you and pull at you from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning. Let them out. Write a “brain dump.” When that’s done, write about reflections from the previous day or write down your priorities for today. The point is, your mind is just like your house. How can you think clearly if you have random clutter all over your house? The answer is that you can’t. Get it together. Write it down and index it in your daily journal!

Emotional Intelligence

Writing in a daily journal can help you become more self-aware, which will help you develop a knowing of what is right for you. It can help you become in tune with situations and “feel” if something is off with another person or a situation. Developing emotional intelligence will also help you interact better with other people because you will also be more understanding and aware of other people’s needs and wants. (See   


What you focus on, you will become. Absent that, the daily habit of journaling will enforce a sense of discipline into your life. A daily writing practice will help you focus and train your mind to perform when you tell it to work. Try it. Just free flow write for a few pages every morning and see if you notice any epiphanies or changes within three weeks of beginning your morning journaling practice.  

Take it from Scott Adams, speaking on daily affirmations as part of the journaling process, and as quoted on page 265 of Tim Ferriss’s “Tools of Titans:” — “All you do is you pick a goal and you write it down 15 times a day in some specific sentence form, like, ‘I, Scott Adams, will become an astronaut,’ for example. And you do that every day. Then it will seem as if the universe just starts spitting up opportunities. It will look to you like these are coincidences, and whether they are or not is less relevant than the fact that they seem to pop up.”


Using a daily journal for goal-setting purposes and to help you focus go hand in hand!


Many doctors have linked keeping a daily journal to decreased levels of stress and anxiety. What’s more, dieters who keep a food journal have been known to double their weight loss efforts! (See 

Identify Patterns 

When you finish one of your journals, that is the perfect time to go back and make sure everything has been indexed properly for future use. It also the perfect time to go back and read your thoughts so you can identify patterns. If they are self-destructive habits, now you know what you have to do to break those bad patterns! You will also make important connections too, though, in the sense of being able to look back and connect the dots as in “Oh wow, I did x, y, and that’s why/how I got to z.” Identifying patterns is the ability to go backwards in time and find the secret sauce as far as the key factors that were critical in building your successes. This is such an important insight for your progress. 


Incorporating a journaling practice into your daily habits has been known to play a big role in bringing more joy and gratitude into people’s lives.  


Are you a perpetual list maker? Keep your daily to-do items all in one place. All of your journaling friends know that there is nothing quite as satisfying as checking something off that list! Dismissing a task on the computer just doesn’t feel as good for some reason. Use a dedicated journal to keep track of all of your lists. Don’t forget to index the important ones at the back of your book! Examples may include: books read; places visited; favorite restaurants; and workouts completed.


The physical act of writing has been known to activate memory. (See For those recovering from a brain injury, daily journaling is often employed as a mechanism to help aid in memory recovery. It is also used as a tool to help seniors stay sharp.


Writing to reflect upon the good old days is another method that has been known to be linked to increasing joy and gratitude. And what better way than waxing nostalgic is there to further your legacy? Parents/husbands and wives: We urge you to leave a legacy book behind!


Keeping a daily diary or a daily journal will help you keep your life organized. Yes, our electronic calendars are great, and we love them, but sometimes you just need to take physical notes during a meeting or while you are traveling. Keep all your notes in one journal until the book is full, and index it properly, and your life will be much more organized and your brain will start operating more efficiently by default. We dare you to defy us!


We can’t be 100% sure, but we would like to believe that the CIA aka Facebook/Google haven’t found a way to activate video or audio listening devices into our journals yet from the factory where they are built (in Michigan, by the way, not China). Just saying. 


Have some? Write them down. Tab them, clear them out later. Index them with your answers. Free flow daily writing can help you resolve those pesky questions. An example of one of our favorite “pesky” questions would probably be “What am I doing with my life?!”

Reid Hoffman (co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn) has been known for writing down problems in his notebook that he wants his mind to work on overnight.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” — Thomas Edison  


Those working on overcoming addictions have been known to benefit from utilizing a daily journaling practice. (See


We could all use more “me” time and a little less stress in our busy daily lives. One of our favorite recent journaling exercises was completing Daniel Pink’s “Don’t List” exercise. Instead of getting bogged down in a busy for the sake of being busy trap type of to do list, you make a list of the things you don’t do anymore. It helps you focus on what’s most important everyday. One of our golden rules of productivity is to not take calls while we are working or answer emails first thing in the morning. Don’t! These are just distractions that suck up your best productive morning energy!


Many therapists have been known to recommend a daily journaling practice to their patients who are dealing with grief and loss. (See


Yes. A daily journaling practice can enhance your understanding of yourself, the people around you, and the entire universe. Yes.

Vocational Advancement

Keeping a work journal can help you keep track of your priorities at work, and provide proof of your progress. Consider marking educational achievements; accomplishments that you are most proud of; and new contacts that you’ve made in your industry this year.

Whine Without Consequence

Have you ever had a friend who called you just to whine and moan? Have you ever been that friend? Unfortunately, we have all either been that guy or know that guy. And if the offending person would have just kept a journal instead of using his friend as a sounding board, everything would have worked out better for both parties. Keeping a daily journal for griping is a way to whine without consequence!   


This is a fear of being close to or touching sharp objects. Don’t worry, though. Your journal is good for helping you work through all of your fears and handicapping beliefs. Whether it is Arachnophobia; Ophidiophobia; Acrophobia; Agoraphobia; or Cynophobia, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling can help you manage your anxiety and fear. (See

Yelling Without Noise

Write in all caps in your daily journal. No one can hear you. You probably won’t get arrested for disturbing the peace.  


Check out Rick Steves on “The Art of Journaling.” We particularly love his comment about the bound journal becoming a classic on your bookshelf! Go and sit somewhere. Write what you see and feel. Travel. Write. Index. Buy Stealth Journals. Repeat.


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