What Does The Data Say?

Recently I had a big big blood draw so that I could get an exhaustive analysis of what’s going on inside the ol’ bod.

Yesterday I met with my lovely doctor to go over each test, and it turns out that the ol’ bod is pretty young, actually — I have the innards of a thriving 25 year-old, and yes, I’m very proud, thank you.

I love getting blood tests. I know that’s weird, but it kills me that I spend so much time living in my body and I can’t see what’s going on in there.

It’s like cracking a safe and finding out all kinds of secrets.

Yes, digging into the data gives me a list of little tweaks and changes to work through, but damn, it makes me feel good.

This is also why I love writing so much.

Writing, particularly journalling by hand, has the same safe-cracking effect, except that the secrets come from your mind (which makes makes them actual secrets and not just hard-to-access data points).

I recently read some studies from the University of Washington about why handwriting is so powerful for getting down into the unknown depths of who we are.

It turns out that the sequential movements we make with our hands when writing activate huge areas of the brain that are involved in memory, creativity, and healing.

“Writing is the way we learn what we’re thinking.”

That’s researcher Virginia Berninger, who directed these studies. She goes on to say, “The act of producing something supports perception. So we need to output in order to improve our ability to process what we input from the environment.”

In other words, handwriting helps us notice more of what’s going on around us, and to make better sense of it than we would be able to just by thinking about it or even typing about it.

This explains the steadily-growing body of scientific literature that highlights expressive writing as an effective tool for processing distress and trauma, to the extent that a drug-based treatment with the same impact would be considered ‘a major medical advance’.

The transformative power of writing is not just some woo-woo wishful thinking.

It’s real, and observable, and it lasts.

(And unlike drugs, you can get it free any time you want, no prescription or dodgy street corners needed.)

I won’t claim there are no side-effects. You may experience increased clarity, more palpable emotions, and decreased tolerance for your own BS.

So find a journal or a notepad or loose sheets of paper. Grab the nearest writing implement, and get to it. Time to dig down into the data of your life, and uncover the secrets buried in it all.