Talking to myself

The other day I read a one-year-ago journal entry, and had a strong impression of having a long-distance conversation. Although I had not the slightest memory of writing the entry, it was clearly me. In fact, the me writing in those moments past, had something striking to say to the me reading a year later. Something insightful. Nearly poetic. Definitely useful.

The entry wasn’t from a depressed past–me. It wasn’t from a hopeful past–me. It was from someone who clearly had insight, who had thoughtfully crafted some phrasing, and who had included quotations for thematic punctuation. This happens to me a lot— nearly daily. I’m so glad that past me took the time (for it really does take prodigious amounts of time) to write that entry. And so I keep writing to myself in my journal.

Other times I find things in my journal that were clearly important—way too important—at the time, but I can’t recall the feeling. Sometimes I can’t even recall the event or project.

All of which serves to provide me with perspective and guidance on the faux urgencies and importanties of my todays.


Reflections on 7 years and ~2,000 episodes

Frankly, that’s seems impossible.

First, unrelated to podcasting, I’d like to jump on my soapbox about keeping a personal journal. It takes a lot of effort, but it is invaluable for getting perspective on one’s own life. It’s also just plain fun to read your own thoughts many years later. The best day to start journaling was yesterday; but today would also be good.

December 27th 2016 is my “okay, fine, I’m starting a podcast” date. The first episode of the Movers Mindset podcast (with a different name back then) came out in early January 2017. So—despite my disbelief and denial—it’s been 7 years. And 2,000 episodes? …I don’t know the exact number, but it also seems impossible.

Some things I’ve done on purpose. What happens if you try to publish a daily show for four years? What happens if you have a show you love and just ignore the urge (and advice) to publish on a schedule, and instead just put them out whenever?

Some things have just been a delightful surprise. The times people surprise me and ask me to join them on their show. The countless conversations next-to the conversation that became a podcast. The countless hours of my life spent with others who are passionate about podcasting. The times I’ve said, “Hello, I’m Craig Constantine” in person, and been recognized by the sound of my voice! And, when someone says that some podcast conversation really helped them as a listener, or as a guest.

I’ve taken the enormous amount of opportunity, resources, luck and others’ passion that I’ve been so generously given, and poured in as much of my own (passion, time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, money) as I can. The result has been miraculous.

This post is prompted by someone asking me how many years it’s been… and my stumbling over the math. Hey, thanks Özlem, for asking.

Takeaway? CYCLES!

Everything flows and ebbs. Be grateful for the flow and for the ebb. You already know that. I already knew that before Dec 27, 2016. The takeaway is to find a way to be reminded of this.

I hope you’re doing well, and I wish you the strength and courage to move along your own path tomorrow, next month, next year, and beyond.



Hey, pay attention

I have a routine with my journaling. Over time, that routine has changed a lot and I’m sure it will evolve farther. Currently, I start a clean A5-sized face of a page for each day. I do not read the previous day’s entry; I’m never trying to continue where I left off in my thinking as I journal. No, the journal is simply a place for me to talk to my future self. Here’s why I did that thing I did. Here’s this really great idea… but I’m letting go of it, and writing it down hoping future-me gets a chuckle at the dumb idea I was wise to drop. Sometimes I record really big wins. Sometimes I record really big losses. A wedding! A birth! A death! But mostly, I’m just capturing how I feel, why I feel, what I think, why I think, … Sometimes I spend hours painstakingly handwriting long texts. Sometimes it’s just 60-seconds and a bulleted list. Vanishingly rare is a sketch. Occasionally a flourish of colored-penciling. There are often inset headings in block letters at the sides as signposts—first instance of this, last instance of that.

It helps me pay attention to my life.

~ Austin Kleon from,

Yes, there’s much paying of attention to my life that happens in the writing.

But the true wizardry is in the years-later rereading.



I’ve often mentioned journaling. A few years after I began journaling seriously, I started taking time to read my older journal entries. Initially, I was setting aside some dedicated time early each month to simply spend time with my old journal entries. I was just randomly hopping around looking up things, and reliving old adventures (at least, those I’d taken the time to write about.) I soon ended up with bookmarks at various number-of-years-ago.

Eventually I wanted to reign in the time I was spending reading. (The author of my journals is the most fascinating person I know of, so I can really get lost navel gazing into my journals.) I process-ified the entire thing (which I’ll skip explaining because it’s not important) and now, every day, I read my journal entries from 1-, 3-, 6-, and 9-years-ago. It only takes a few minutes and it is endlessly illuminating.

Oh the adventures I’ve had! The thrills… the spills… the ups and downs!

[…] most of the fun is in the experience and not in the reminiscing. We don’t actually spend most of our days enjoying memories. How many minutes yesterday did you spend thinking about that trip you took last year?

~ Jacob Falkovich from,

This article by Hoffman is typical. You’ll probably love it or hate it. The part I’ve quoted is way down in the middle part and not a major point. But it leapt off the page for me. I’ve long known that journaling has at least corresponded with my improvements, in the sense that it has raised the depth of the downward dips—this is a very important achievement. Alone, it’s reason enough that I intend to never cease journaling. Hoffman’s mentioning reminiscing as being a valuable activity related to happiness, has made clear another reason to never cease.



These stories illustrate two truths. 1) I’m a big ol’ nerd, and 2) the goodness and badness of memories fade over time, but the badness fades faster—that’s the fading affect bias. Some bad memories even become good memories, while good memories rarely become bad memories.

~ Adam Mastroianni from,

Like Mastroianni, I’m clearly susceptible to this bias. One thing that I use to fight it, is to write myself honest thoughts after things happen. A lot of the pleasure from something is the anticipation—the imagining of the enjoyment from some expected experience. That’s pretty easy to remember to journal and it happens without effort in the days leading up. But after the fact, I usually take a big chunk of time and decompress. What did I really think when I got hit in the head that one time at that thing? …or when I fell? …or got sick? The best adventures are when I look back and think: “ugh, that sucked. I’m glad I did it.”


The absurdity of it all

When I sit down to journal, it’s usually most productive for me to be prospective; to record my observations on my past actions and thinking with the intention of setting out ideas and plans for self-improvement. But sometimes, right in the middle of a large train of thoughts, I’ll veer into this stream-of-consciousness recording of all the things I did in the previous day. It’s usually a mind-boggling list. And it’s usually only a small portion of the stuff I’d hoped to get to that day. Day after week after month after year this appears in my journals. It’s absurd. I’ll never finish even a fraction of what I daily hope to do. And yet, every day I continue to expend tremendous energy just to appear normal.

It would be easy to conclude that an absurdist view of life rules out happiness and leads anyone with any sense to despair at her very existence. And yet in his book, Camus concludes, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” This may seem impossible, but in fact, this unexpected twist in Camus’ philosophy of life and happiness can help you change your perspective and see your daily struggles in a new, more equanimous way.

~ Arthur C. Brooks from,

Fortunately, it’s clear to me that I’m not alone in thinking what I’m doing is absurd. (For example, Jake Gyllenhall touches on it in a great conversation with Sam Jones.)


Still, choose today

Back at the start of January I mentioned, “Indeed. If it is to my advantage tomorrow, it is much more so today.” My touch phrase, “choose today” for 2023 continues to be a poignant reminder. I’ve now written it at the bottom of every journal entry this year, it often comes to mind in moments when I most need it, and it always reminds me of this:

Stick to what’s in front of you—idea, action, utterance. This is what you deserve. You could be good today. But instead you choose tomorrow.

~ Marcus Aurelius


“If it is to my advantage tomorrow, it is much more so today.” is a direct quote of Epictetus. Aurelius was born shortly after Epictetus’s death. But Aurelius makes a point of thanking one of his teachers, Rusticus saying in part, “[…] And for introducing me to Epictetus’s lectures–and loaning me his own copy.”

Which leads me to the first thing “choose today” reminds me of each day: Knowledge, and in particular wisdom, are gained through others by seeking out those who have something you wish to learn. These people which I’m mentioning lived thousands of years ago. Others (in other traditions from other regions of the world in other centuries) have separately discovered these same ideas, which makes it clear to me that these ideas are worth considering.

The second thing “choose today” reminds me of is to be forward-looking. Certainly I want to observe and consider my past (and the past of others!) but I should be looking towards the future. If something feels urgent, then where exactly is that sense of urgency coming from, and is the urgency real? If something feels important— same questions. If something feels _insert_whatever_here_— same questions. And then, what can I choose today?



Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. Although now, some years later, I marvel that a mind on the outs with itself should have nonetheless made painstaking record of its every tremor, I recall with embarrassing clarity the flavor of those particular ashes. It was a matter of misplaced self-respect.

~ Joan Didion from,


One reason why I journal

When we conjure up what it will be like to start a new practice, form a new habit, knock an item off a bucket list, we see the fun but not the work. We see an image in which all the drudgery has been edited out, and only the montage of rewards left in.

~ Brett McKay from,

Great points from McKay. I often enjoy inverting problems like the one he’s describing. Let’s say I thought a lot about the idea and the reality and decided far in the past to start something—for example, a daily podcast of me reading quotes. Then the inversion of the problem McKay is writing about would be to figure out, in the present, if my current experience of the reality matches what I expected the reality to be, back when I made the decision. Because, if I don’t do that, how do I get better at making the idea/reality choice McKay is discussing?

This is one reason I journal. For every project (and much more) in the last decade I’ve journaled about it. An idea begins to appear repeatedly in my journal entries. Sometimes it grows into my laying out the expected reality—the work this is going to require, the physical and emotional costs, the expected outcome(s), the rewards, etc.. Then I regularly reread my old journal entries and see how much of an idiot I was. ;)



Burnout research shows that cynicism is an easy way out when we don’t have the mental resources to cope. It’s no surprise that cynicism is a core attribute of the burnout equation: during a time of ongoing stress it’s much easier to be pessimistic than it is to mobilize and make a difference.

~ Chris Bailey from,

That short blog post is about news-from-the-Internet and the pandemic, but it’s perfectly applicable to any source of chronic stress. For me, the chronic stress is entirely self-inflicted and the cautions remain the same.

I’ve gotten relief from myself over the years through journaling and blogging. Journalling gives me some perspective. (But it is difficult to do it well, since it can degenerate into subjectivity, navel gazing, or whining.) Blogging gives me the chance to regularly work with the garage door up; showing my work by exposing my thinking. Even if mostly no one calls me on anything, knowing that people are looking calls me to a higher quality of thinking.

Yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about taking another look at cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A couple years ago I made a pass at understanding it—specifically wondering if one could “do it” to oneself. (Yes.) I’ve dusted off a small volume for a re-read to see what I can tune in my existing self-care routines, and hopefully find some new ones to settle into for a while.


Radical creative choices

There are no radical creative choices that do not carry with them an inherent risk of equally radical failure. You cannot do anything great without aggressively courting your own limits and the limits of your ideas. […] There is nothing more powerful than failure to reveal to you what you are truly capable of. Avoiding risk of failure means avoiding transcendent creative leaps forward. You can’t have one without the other.

~ Aisha Tyler


Sometimes it’s a single word that makes me pull a quote. In this case it was that “aggressively”.

There are times, in certain situations, where aggression is what’s called for. I’m often reflecting and journaling about how I need to temper my, well, everything. Moderate my ego. Moderate my thoughts. (“The snow globe that is my mind,” as I often put it.) Moderate my activity. Moderate my assault on grammar, even. But there are times when the right course of action is to start getting shit done, taking down names, and delivering letters to Garcia. (And, yes, I’m aware that the whole thing about delivery of a letter from President McKinley to Gernal Garcia is false, but the point of the essay is still patently clear and useful.)

Until I’d read that quote from Tyler, I’d never really thought about “aggressively” courting my own limits. Courting them, sure. But not aggressively.

So, yeah… come at me ‘bro!


Forced simplicity

I’ve talked previously about simplicity. In particular, the idea that imformed simplicity, following from a beginner’s mind which has moved through understanding the complexity of a topic, is the hallmark of mastery practice. But forced simplicity is an entirely different animal.

Occassionally, I really need to stretch out and tear into some hard work. This week I did 8, long-form recordings in 5 days. Driving, sometimes eating, more driving, arrive, set up, record, drive, sleep, and on and on. At night I’m trying to quickly come up with a plan for the next day; I have to be where, when? …drive time? …traffic? And before I can be comfortable I have the next day under control, I need to get to sleep. Small bits of online work need to be done here and there—

I’m literally sitting by a campfire. My Mac is wifi’d to my iPhone’s cell service. I’m uploading a 90mb audio file to Movers Mindset’s project management system, as I type this blog post.

—then it’s time to sleep. Then jump up and leap into the next day. Organize the van. Is there time to shower today? (This is a real decision, and the answer was not always, ‘yes.’) Can I do my journaling? …not this week? My usual reading? …not this week. Everything I did for 6+ days was laser focused on what happens between when I press “record” and “stop.” Arrive at the location and bring my A-game. Under- or over-caffeinated, sleepy, prepared or not, … game. on.

Forced simplicity can be brutal. But, I got the good tape.


Forget all that

I get it. This might all seem like a bit much. I was intimidated by journaling too. And people, I find, tend to intimidate themselves about it: What’s the best way to do it? What’s the best journal? What time? How much?

Man, forget all that. There’s no right way to do it.

~ Ryan Holiday from,

We all try to share things with others—hey look! Blogging. We share stories, books, images, music, songs, and suggestions, (where to go, what to do, etc.,) hoping, if I can be so generous, that what we share will provide some guidance, enjoyment, hope, or what else we know not. Whether or not the things we share land… whether they stick, have the desired affect, or any positive affect at all… we’ve no way to know that.

But what might happen if we tried to share things with our future selves?


Our journey of small steps

Meditation is intermittent fasting for the mind. Too much sugar leads to a heavy body, and too many distractions lead to a heavy mind. Time spent undistracted and alone, in self-examination, journaling, meditation, resolves the unresolved and takes us from mentally fat to fit.

~ Naval Ravikant

Today’s message is not really a prompt like the previous 60. Alas, we’ve reached the terminus of our journey of small steps practicing reflection.

Thank you for being awesome!

I created this series by taking my personal collection of self-reflection prompts and forming them into these blog posts. Next, I wrote the three getting-started posts to ease you into the daily routine. Finally, I came up with a theme for each of the 8 weeks and wrote short additions that appeared below the main sequence of prompts. These additions carry the through-line of teaching self-reflection. (…or at least, I hope they did.)

Here are all the additional parts in one place:

Creating space

Remember: 2 minutes. Pause life. Read. Think. Resume life.

Many of the prompts I’m sharing have been chosen from the generous gifts given me by others. When I’m explicitly quoting, they are attributed (as above.)

2 minutes: Pause life. Read. Think. Resume life.

Perhaps you’ve already begun to look forward to your two minutes of reflection?

2 minutes: Pause life. Read. Think. Resume life.

Have you considered adding some physical ritual to your reflection? Perhaps taking three deep, slow breaths before the reading, or … If you decide to try something, don’t go crazy; just something very small and easy. Or not. That’s fine too.

2 minutes: Pause life. Read. Think. Resume life.


Everything you do is initiated by triggers. “X” happens to me, so then I do “Y.” Creating a new habit is difficult because we don’t realize we need to attach it to a trigger.

Trigger. New habit.

You’re using the arrival of this email as your trigger. Do you recall that I mentioned on day one that I was introducing you to being reflective upon being prompted?

Trigger. New habit.

Today’s a good day to look closely at the trigger you’re experiencing. There are always ways you can change a trigger. Tinker—if not for real, then at least as a thought experiment—with changing the daily trigger for this journey.

Trigger. New habit.

One day, these triggers from me will end. To what trigger under your control could you attach this nascent habit of self-reflection?


Reflection is about self-focus. Each day you’re practicing holding up a mirror. Specifically, you’re observing your thoughts, in response to a prompt.

It’s not necessary to move beyond simply observing our thoughts. Simply practicing _observing_ your thoughts will make you more aware of your thoughts.

Our practice of reflection is an explicitly inward-facing activity. We’re repeatedly, intentionally being aware.

Reflection. Inward-facing. Intentional awareness of our own thoughts.

A good mirror shows an accurate image. A fun-house mirror shows a distorted image. How is your reflection on your own thoughts?

Having now spent at least 46 minutes in self-reflection and practicing awareness of your own thoughts— …any change in daily lived life? …any change in your relationships? No right answers, simply awareness.

Are you surprised by your thoughts’, and your mind’s, complexity? Are you amazed? Are you empowered?


We’ve been developing our awareness via self-reflection. What happens if we turn our awareness outward?

Were there any moments yesterday when you suddenly—it can be quite jarring the first few times—became aware that you were _aware_ of your own thoughts?

You are using a trigger to practice reflection. Is there anything in your day that resembles the reflection trigger? Opportunities where you could reflect spontaneously?

We’re about halfway. Poke your head out of your private journey of practicing reflection and quietly take some guesses about how reflective are the people around you. No judging; recall day one’s message about self-improvement not being zero-sum.

If you encountered even one moment yesterday where you realized someone else could be more reflective: Visualize that moment you experienced… and imagine slowly raising a hand mirror into that perspective—so you see your own reflection appear on top of that person.

Are there moments in your day when you realize you are aware that you are observing something outside yourself? If so— If you are aware you are observing, can you use that as a trigger to look inward and reflect on your own thinking?

Awareness of our inward experience, and our outward experience, is the same. It’s the same awareness. These past few days, we’ve taken our awareness on a brief field trip outside ourselves. For the rest of our little journey here, we’ll remain looking inward.


How good is your memory? What’s the first food you had after waking eleven days ago? Perhaps, your memory isn’t _that_ good. How about something you are currently interested in: 11 days ago, did you have any insights from your morning reflection?

Everything about this journey is, of course, optional. But I want you to find paper and pencil/pen. Don’t over-think that, and don’t try to use something digital. Grab any paper and any pen, and have them handy for tomorrow’s reflection.

Remember that paper? Write the first thought that comes to mind, when I say, write the first thought that comes to mind. You’re done.

Today, write the first and second thought. It really, truly, does not matter what the thoughts are. Please try writing them down. Put the paper away until tomorrow.

I’m not even asking that look back at what you’ve written. Simply write a couple thoughts, (or more than a couple, if you wish.)

And write _several_ thoughts down today…

Now look back through your week of notes. Maybe write a few notes about your observations of your notes? Maybe, you want to look more into journaling? (Today is the last time I’ll mention journaling in our journey, but I highly recommend continuing.)

Simply being

You’ve put a lot of effort so far into practicing reflection. It’s important that we don’t lose the trees for the forest. The focus of daily reflection is the _tree_; the forest will take care of itself.

One can bring self-judgement into reflection practice, but it is not necessary. Simply practicing being aware will pay dividends. I’m recommending you do the reflection without the judgement.

A human being. Not a human doing.

My martial arts teacher, Sensei Wirth, turned the phrase: No this. No that. No delay.

Many arts teach the lesson of simply being. Zen, for example provide koans: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Different styles of Yoga teach variosly about sound, light, and breathing.

The sublime experiences of life can be found anywhere. I’m hoping you find it within this small space you’ve created for reflection.

Make it yours

My intention for this series is to bootstrap your practice of reflection. For me to have suceeded, you must end up being self-sustaining in your practice.

The skeleton of this journey is the 57 prompts which appear at the top of each of these posts. I wasn’t born with those. What will be your prompt, or prompts?

How are you going to continue to trigger yourself to do your morning reflection?

I like to read, and daily-study/daily-devotional books is an entire Genre. But there are also web sites, software, flip cards, … what calls to you?

The best choice for medium and method—for prompts, for journaling, for reflection—is whatever reliably triggers you to reflect. Make it yours; change it whenever you wish.

Do you recall the beginning of this journey? While I created the prompts and the system which you are now enjoying, how will you continue it yourself? 

It’s time for the student to become the teacher. What prompts and triggers are you going to create for yourself as you go through your life being your own teacher?


We’re in our final week together. The first week was about creating space. 2 minutes: Pause life. Read. Think. Resume life.

Our second week was focused on creating a new habit. Do you have your new habit attached to a trigger?

Week three was about the practice itself of reflection; becoming aware explicitly that we are— well, practicing being aware.

Awareness occupied our practice during our fourth week. Inward. Outward. Simply being aware is awesome.

In week five we tried the tiniest taste of capturing our thoughts. Reflection is a power tool for self-improvement. Journaling—and there are many kinds—is another.

Simply being is easy to understand but difficult to embody. In week six I tried to point at the moon, while hoping my pointing finger didn’t draw your attention instead.

Last week we began looking beyond this small, introductory journey and talking about ways you could continue on your own.


When will the rhetorical questions end?


As a PDF — You can download Practicing Reflection as a single e-book.

Reflection: Day 57

WE CREATE OUR OWN STRUGGLES — “All the stress, all the frustrations and disappointments, all the busyness and rushing … we create these with attachments in our heads. By letting go, we can relax and live more simply.” ~ Leo Babauta

In week five we tried the tiniest taste of capturing our thoughts. Reflection is a power tool for self-improvement. Journaling—and there are many kinds—is another.


Arrived in the middle? Visit the first post, Where to begin?
(The entire series is available to download as a PDF ebook.)

Reflection: Day 50

GET CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT, AND SAY NO TO MORE THINGS — “We are rarely very clear on what we want. What if we became crystal clear on what we wanted in life? If we knew what we wanted to create, how we wanted to live … we could say yes to these things, and no to everything else. Saying no to more things would simplify our lives.” ~ Leo Babauta

The best choice for medium and method—for prompts, for journaling, for reflection—is whatever reliably triggers you to reflect. Make it yours; change it whenever you wish.


Arrived in the middle? Visit the first post, Where to begin?
(The entire series is available to download as a PDF ebook.)

Reflection: Day 38

MY OATH — Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I shall make no excuses and hold no grudges. I care not where I came from, only where I am going. I don’t compare myself to others, only to myself from yesterday. I shall not brag about successes nor complain about my struggles, but share my experiences and help my fellows. I know I impact those around me with my actions, and so I must move forward, every day. I acknowledge fear, doubt, and despair, but I do not let them defeat me.

Now look back through your week of notes. Maybe write a few notes about your observations of your notes? Maybe, you want to look more into journaling? (Today is the last time I’ll mention journaling in our journey, but I highly recommend continuing.)


Arrived in the middle? Visit the first post, Where to begin?
(The entire series is available to download as a PDF ebook.)