There is no question about it — journaling changes your life for the better.
If you already journal, regularly or irregularly, you know this. You’ve experienced it. You’ll be able to affirm many of the points I make here and perhaps find some additional reasons to continue writing.
If you’re one of those people who think you “should” journal, but don’t, then read on to discover many of the ways journaling can be used to grow and improve your life. I hope to motivate you to give it a try — or begin again in a new way.
How does journaling transform your life?
- First, your journal gives you a private, nonjudgmental space in which to process your thoughts and emotions. Your journal is like a good friend that you can tell anything to — and I mean anything — without being worried about how that friend will think of you. You can tell that friend all your concerns, worries, happy moments, silly thoughts, and fears, and that friend will be a perfect listener. She will never interrupt or one-up you with her own experiences. She simply listens.
- Related to the first point, your journal is a place to let out your inner counselor. One of the ways I use my journal is to give myself advice. It’s an amazing way to tap into your own inner wisdom. I have found that the advice I give myself is insightful and powerful — and works.
- Journaling increases self-awareness. As you write about your days, your reactions, and your responses to your reactions, you become more aware of cycles and emotional/psychological issues. That awareness leads you to dig deeper and to ask questions about why you act the way you do and how you can make positive changes. In addition, when you experience intense emotions, writing about your emotions will help you understand what triggered them and explore positive ways to express your feelings.
- Journaling guides you to be more present. This one goes hand in hand with being more self-aware. You become more mindful and present because journaling causes you to slow down, to be more aware of the moment in which you are writing. This sense of presence can extend beyond your journal-writing sessions into your daily life.
- Journaling pushes you to actively inspect your life. Because you’re writing about the events in your life, it’s natural to become more introspective in general.
- Journaling is the best way to proactively examine your life. The idea is to reveal areas or aspects of your life that you have hidden from yourself. To do this, you must ask probing questions and be willing to be honest. You are writing only for yourself, so you can allow yourself to be honest without fear.
- Overall, journaling strengthens your sense of self. The more you examine yourself, the more you know who you are.
- It keeps your priorities up front and center. Writing about your life, your goals and desires and fears, helps you sort out the important from the inconsequential to remind you about what’s most important.
- Writing about your feelings and thoughts can actually improve your interactions and relationships with other people. Think about it: if you work through those negative feelings and anger in your journal, you’re less likely to take them out on those around you; and if you write about what challenges you in a relationship, you are more likely to come up with solutions to relationship problems.
- Journaling helps you reach your goals (eat better, sleep more, read more, etc.). Just the simple act of writing down your goals can improve your chances of actually achieving those goals. And when you use your journal as a place to record, refer to, and write about the progress you are making, journaling becomes a powerful tool.
- Journaling improves your memory. Studies have shown that writing helps to “cement” ideas and events into memory. When you write in your journal you are retrieving past memories and creating stories about your life. You also record daily events, thoughts, and feelings. As a result, your memories of those events will be sharper in the future.
- Journaling helps you become a better writer — even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer. That’s right, even if it’s not a goal of yours to be a writer, regular journaling will help you to sharpen your writing in all its forms, including business correspondence and emails.
- Journaling is a way to record your life history. Even if all you do is write about the events in your life and include some cultural context, such as movies, political, and world events, you are writing history.
- Journaling heals the past. When you write about the past, you invariably make more sense of it. Writing helps you cope with and heal wounds from past trauma.
In summary, journaling regularly can help you develop a more mature level of self-knowledge, be more productive, create the life you want, and have healthier and happier relationships,
If all that sounds like a reach, I challenge you to journal regularly for a year. That doesn’t mean you have to write every single day. Even the most committed journal writers skips days now and again. Writing regularly means making a practice of writing about what is happening in your life, along with examining your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
After you have journaled for a year, take stock of your life. I can guarantee that you will reap many, if not all, of the benefits I’ve listed here.
If you have always wanted to journal but haven’t managed to make a regular practice of it, leave a comment about which of the above benefits might motivate you to start journaling.
And If you’re a regular journal writer, please share some of the ways journaling has transformed your life.