Journaling is a great tool for a more peaceful life. It can help you express your feelings and thoughts, be a tool to record historical information, or a fantastic way to supercharge your self-development efforts. When your thoughts are still swirling around in your mind, they can be a barrier to your peace.
Getting things out of your head and down on paper provides a totally different perspective.
Thinking tends to be very sequential; one thought leads to the next, which leads to the next. We get caught in a linear track and miss out on the bird’s-eye view of the whole thought process. With journaling you gain the ability to see things from a third-person view versus a first-person view.
A few benefits of journaling
Journaling has a lot of positive benefits. You can journal for a number of different reasons, but no matter the primary reason these three benefits apply to all of them
- Journaling will help you with complex challenges. When you write the issue at hand down on paper, the solution for a complex challenge often suddenly becomes obvious. The ability to re-examine the issue from a third-person perspective can make all the difference.
- Journaling will help you with better focus and clarity. One of the best times to lean on your journal is when you’re filled with uncertainty about what action to take. Many things become clearer when you can get them down in writing.
- Journaling can help validate your progress. Sometimes we feel like we’re spinning our wheels and not making genuine progress. When you’re feeling this way, go back and review your old journal entries. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you’ve made since then. And you’ll also probably realize that you’re taking huge strides right now, too!
You don’t need any special tools to get started other than a place to record your thoughts and something to record them with. You could start with something as simple as a spiral notebook, or get fancy with a custom bound book, a computer program, or your phone. It doesn’t matter how you start, but you may want to consider a couple things before you choose your medium.
Are you often on the go or traveling? For ease of always having it with you, you might want to consider keeping an electronic journal. You can use your phone or computer (if you travel with your computer) and you will always have it with you. There are a lot of benefits to electronic journals – if you use your phone, it’s basically free. If you want to be able to search for things, it’s usually easier to do electronically. Many people say they are pressed for time, and they type faster than they write, so that may be an easier way to stay consistent.
Are you going to want to save your journals for a long period of time? If so, you want something that will hold up over time. Spiral notebooks from the back to school supply clearance cost almost nothing, but they tend to fall apart after awhile. The covers bend easily, and pages are usually made to tear out. You can get some nice hardcover journals online or at office supply stores for a reasonable price.
My personal preference is to hand write my journals. While the electronic version would be easier to carry, and quicker to record my thoughts, there is something about holding the writing instrument in your hand, and expressing your thoughts on paper that is therapeutic.
In a Psychology Today article by Laura Deutschland titled, “Is it better to write by hand or computer,” she states: “Many studies suggest that there are brain-friendly benefits of writing out letters, notes, essays, or journal entries by hand that you can’t get from typing.
“Writing by hand connects you with the words and allows your brain to focus on them, understand them and learn from them. Other studies suggest that writing longhand is a workout for your brain. According to a Wall Street Journal article, some physicians claim that the act of writing—which engages your motor-skills, memory and more—is a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age. (See website, Mental Floss) Writing by hand helps people remember information and thus retain their memories as they age.”
Journal every day
For you to get the optimum benefits of journaling, you need to write something every day. It could be just a few phrases, a few pages, or a diatribe. It doesn’t matter how much you write, it just matters that you write.
Even if you think that there aren’t enough interesting things happening in your life on a daily basis to bother recording them, don’t let that deter you. New habits are much easier to implement if the activity is performed on a daily basis. Even getting down a couple of sentences every night is a great idea. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll write much more once you get started.
I always try to keep my journal entries positive, but there are times you need to express things that are not. Journaling is a good way to get those negative thoughts or events out of your system. You may want to consider keeping a separate journal for the difficult, more personal things if your journal is somewhere that is not private.
A friend introduced me to the concept of a “dark journal” where she records those “dark thoughts” so they no longer take up space in her mind. Once on paper, she has expressed them, and they now have a different residence. An example would be, “it feels like everyone hates me.” Once on paper, she can process it, realize it’s not true, and even if it were true she doesn’t control how people think. She finishes, closes up the book, puts it away, and then moves on.
Even though it doesn’t seem logical, journaling on a regular bases can even help make your life more exciting. Just knowing that you have to write about something each day may compel you to make your life a little more adventurous so you have something interesting to put down on paper (or computer). Try it – you may notice that little thought in the back of your head wondering what you can write about next.
Get started with your journal today. It’s an activity that has little to no cost but provides numerous benefits. You’ll see your clarity increase and have a much better sense of just how much progress you really are making in your life. Start journaling today for a more peaceful life.
Find your purpose – find your joy!