We’ve all heard about the benefits of journaling recently, haven’t we? You can do a quick Google search and get a TON of information about the value of this practice. You can also find a lot of how-tos and tips — almost too many, in fact. The information overload can be overwhelming.
I’m a huge fan of journaling, and I’ve seen firsthand the benefit it can provide. When you’re thinking about starting, don’t let yourself lose out on the opportunity because of the overflow of what-to-do’s. The simple way to start is to find what works for you, and then give yourself the freedom and forgiveness to be awkward and bored with it until it becomes natural. Because, yeah, it does start off a bit boring, especially if you’ve never done it before. Give yourself a break and allow that.
For me, a very small set of core questions to answer consistently can help. I like, “What am I grateful for today?” This is easy at the start, because we typically pick the low hanging fruit: spouse, kids, life, food…but once you run out of the obvious, it forces you to look deeper. That’s when you start to be grateful for the challenges, and the things that didn’t go so well, because you learn to see the gratefulness in the lesson. You start to see the opportunity it opened up to serve someone, or to make something right that then led to a better relationship.
Another question might be, “What am I struggling with today?” Allow yourself to free-write your thoughts about it without judgement. This allows you to process and can aid in better sleep because it helps your brain release the worry and the struggle.
Of course the classic, most basic approach is to simply take stock of your day, as though you’re recording your history: what happened, where did you go, were there any aha’s, learning, or standout moments? And then write a little bit about what you think and feel about it. This is a great way to simply start noticing your day and not letting the moments pass unnoticed.
No matter how you approach journaling — remember, find what works for you — just remember, if you intend to take journaling seriously, then take it seriously. Don’t simply go through the motions — otherwise, what’s the point? Take 3-5 minutes, meditate to calm your breathing, choose to focus on the day, and think and feel about it in your body for a few minutes. That way, when you open your eyes to write, it’s deliberate and focused and you can give your full attention to the accounting of your life.
Do you journal? Why or why not?