A lifetime of journals.

I received my first journal at the age of eight, as a baptism gift. I’ve never NOT had a journal since then. Filled with memories, feelings, prayers, travel, gratitude and anything in my head and heart.

There is magic in putting pen to paper and writing it down – a unique relationship between the hand and brain, sparked by the composition of thoughts and ideas. What you write goes into your subconscious and becomes an anchor in your mind. What you write affects the kind of day you will have, the kind of life you will lead.

Here are three of my personal truths from a lifetime of and about journal writing:

  1. If you use your journal to process emotions and reflect on experiences, you’ll feel that enrich your understanding. It is an exploration of language, bringing a state of mindfulness by igniting an active engagement with thoughts and feelings. Past frustrations and future anxieties can lose their edge in the present moment of journaling.
  2. If you use your journal to reinforce and ruminate on the negative stories in your mind, you’ll feel that drain your light. Journaling is a safe place to vent without hurting someone’s feelings or looking foolish, but don’t let it become a vicious cycle of blame and victimhood. Instead use your journal to convert negative energy into positive creativity and solution-oriented growth.
  3. If you use your journal to express gratitude and count all the good things in your life, your positive mindset will grow. What you appreciate, appreciates. All that gratitude can translate into better health (studies show gratitude journaling helps those suffering from heart failure) and enable you to cultivate more compassion toward your fellow beings.

I’ve used my journal for all of these categories. There was a time I took all my frustrations and disappointments and made them bigger than they needed to be by only journaling complaints. I let the mean girl in my head have a hayday.  I once had a coach recommend I take those journals and burn them, as a way of slaying all those dragons I was bringing to life.

Instead, I started using my daily journal practice to transform all that negativity into positive action. I started writing prayers, affirmations, and all things good in my life now and that I knew was coming my way. I wrote all the qualities I wanted in a relationship and with my perfect partner. That man showed up exactly how I wrote about him less than a year later. While I still process difficult emotions and situations in my journals, I no longer use my writing to reinforce negative beliefs about myself.

I chose to keep all those journals. Some days I cringe thinking what some future posterity could read. Other days, I remember how much good in my life has been realized because of all that writing. All of it is part of my story, and I embrace the journey it has allowed to unfold.

Journaling is a powerful tool for increasing self-awareness. It’s a self-care practice that reduces stress, improves the immune system, increases memory, and sparks the imagination.

You don’t have to sit down and document memoirs to get these benefits. You can take 5 minutes to write 3 things you are grateful for or to list out the good things that happened today. Brainstorm ideas to solve a problem. Write a to-do list. Favorite quotes. Prayers and meditations. Insights and ideas.

There is no right or wrong way to journal, as long as it is bringing to life what you intend to create for yourself or what you want to remember.

Do you keep a journal? If so, how do you use it?

 

Love & Health,