It might seem like a pipe dream that writing in a journal could be so beneficial. But the scientific evidence is in, and journals do benefit you in big ways if you keep one for the long term and use it daily.
Let me be honest right here now, I do not do daily journaling. Nope and probably never will. I journal when I have something I need to say be it for my legacy - that is for my grandkids one day, or to clear my heart or to clear my head.
But I do love journaling. My journals consist of more stories, sharing of experiences and questions I think of at times that I want to explore more of. In fact, I have heaps.
Notebooks I have bought because I just loved them, ones that I have been gifted by someone special that I connect with and the odd note paper that I am going to add to one of my journals one day because it has something profound upon the page.
When I do write it can be short and sweet, so I remember a memory to share or long and deep when my heart is breaking, or I am lost and unsure.
I have always imagined sitting with my grandkids and sharing my story, life and experiences and hearing them retell my journals – oh yeah there are some that will never get into their hands for sure but mostly they are written to share.
Journals helps to slay a lot of negative emotions. In today's digitally connected world, especially, it's easy to compare yourself to others and to think you're lacking. Journals helps to push envy, insecurity, and fear aside.
Essentially, it can lessen depression and anxiety, leading you to feel happier. When you write, it's also more likely that you'll begin to notice an increase in your self-confidence.
You'll feel more in control and able when you know you already have what matters in life. This perspective can also improve perspective, motivation, and mental fortitude.
Finally, knowing what's important in life leads to stronger relationships. It encourages you to treasure and appreciate the important people in your life.
You are the one who makes yourself happy with your own choices. Another person cannot make you happy or grateful. Only you can do that.
But something amazing happens when you express words, often – your relationships simply open up and become better. Those that don’t, you start to recognize for what they are and let them go.
There are of course the standard ones that we are encouraged to remember, and I probably need to remember more often such as:
1. Become Physically Healthier
Being grateful for the ability to move and breathe will eventually cross over into wanting to ensure that you can always do that. Therefore, you’ll be more motivated to go on walks, eat right, stay hydrated, and live-in gratitude for every aspect of your life.
2. Increase Your Mental Dexterity
The ability to take lemons and turn them into that sweet, delightful lemonade, can be gained by keeping a journal.
The main reason is that you will learn on even a bad day to pick out the good in it. That requires a good imagination and creativity and thinking on your feet.
3. Feel Less Aggression in Your Life
It’s hard to feel aggressive if you are happy and grateful. It’s okay to be angry about injustices in the world without being aggressive. But if you feel angry a lot due to your life, it’s really due to not understanding what is actually happening for you (remember it is always for you not to you).
4. Act and Become More Empathetic
As you write more and learn to forgive yourself as you seek to fill your mind with thoughts, you will start seeing others differently.
You’ll have more ability to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their way without judgment. It happens when you learn to forgive yourself.
5. Get More Restful Sleep
If you’re not anxious but go to sleep each night writing everything you’ve experienced (or at least most of it), it’s easier to sleep because you have less anxiety.
Its down its on paper and out of your head – you can deal with this one another time. Often, I find that once it is on paper and away it leaves, I actually very rarely go back and follow through on those things.
6. Get More Done Every Day
Due to feeling more rested, less stressed, and more grateful, you’ll have a lot more energy to get things done every day.
That’s always going to make you feel even more thankful because good things happen due to productivity.
7. Feel Better about Yourself
You can’t help but feel better about yourself when you have started writing. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this.
Your self-esteem will go up when you express yourself in words.
How to Keep a Journal?
As I said, it doesn't matter which type of format you use. What's important is that you use it on a regular basis to gain the best effects. Maintaining a sense of gratitude requires maintenance.
Keeping your journal daily is probably best, but even setting aside three times a week will help. Many people choose to end their day by recalling what they're grateful for. This is a wonderful practice to start with. You might decide to try a different approach later.
Regardless, keeping a journal is easy. Simply write down three to five things for each day. Try to make them specific.
Even something as small as receiving help on a project from a colleague will do, as long as it reminds you of something you value.
It’s so simple, but often it can be emotional, charging, and downright frustrating when you want to say something that the pen cannot put into words right at that moment.
Relax it will happen – just get your book, pen, and breath. Take your time no one said it had to flow the minute you sit – often it will take a moment or two but start with something simple.
Some Suggestions to simply start with:
- Your family
- Your friends
- Your free time
- Your freedom of choice
You may find that it starts awkwardly but when you give it some time it will flow. No need for sentences, grammar just write. Often if words are lost for me, I will do little drawings that help me to get the words.
If you want to be happier, get more done in life, and experience real joy in life, a journal can be the way to achieve it.
The guiding thing to remember is that your thoughts cause your feelings, and you are the one in control of the actions you take once you accept your feelings.
Remember our Human Qi that I have been talking about. This is one of the ways that we can work with that and build our action plan.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. It can be a gratitude journal, thankful journal, diary, action plan or any form of writing. It is about getting it out of your head and onto something that you can see and then make Qi happen.
Accepting that you do have control is half the battle, and your journal will make it clear that you do.
There you have it. A journal is a powerful tool for bringing more calm into your life. I highly recommend it.