14 benefits of keeping a journal
If you don’t already keep a journal then now might be the perfect time to start.
(Before we go into benefits of a journal it is important to clarify the difference between a journal and a diary. A diary is like a report of your day. What appointments you had. What you did, where you went etc. A journal is more about examining your life. Capturing insights and growth.)
Here’s a list of 14 benefits of keeping a journal.
“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.” Brian Tracy
Writing your goals is a step towards moving ideas and dreams in your mind to actual reality. Once you have your goals written down your mind has something more concrete to focus on and you can start to note small actions you can take to realize your goal. Your journal can also help you keep track of your progress and note your success and any learnings.
Develop Emotional Intelligence
“The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.” — John Mayer and Peter Salovey
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Journaling can be a great way to process emotions and increase self-awareness. This can lead to greater empathy of others and a better understanding of yourself.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Aristotle
Keeping a journal can be a wonderful way to really get to know yourself. You can write about your experiences, feelings, ideas, dreams, things that worry you, make you happy or inspire you. Getting to know the real you can be a great step towards valuing yourself and developing self acceptance and love as well as understanding your weaknesses and strengths.
Become a better communicator
Writing in your journal could help you become a better communicator. With regular practice, you’ll be able to express your thoughts and views more clearly both verbally and in writing.
Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.
Dr. James Pennebaker, author of ‘Writing to Heal’ has seen improved immune function in participants during research studies. He explains, “when we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.
Gratitude & happiness
Studies have shown how your level of happiness can increase simply by journaling three good things about your day. This simple exercise works because as humans, many of us are prone to dwell on things that go wrong or reliving negative situations whilst taking for granted the good that surrounds us.
‘The shortest pencil beats the longest memory’, says the proverb and capturing your thoughts, insights, successes and learnings’ as they occur will help you more accurately reflect back on them.
With so much going on in our busy lives you don’t want to miss the opportunity to capture magical moments to treasure in the future.
“There are no failures just lessons.” Henry Ford
When situations occur it is wise to step back from them and take a moment to ask yourself the question, “what is the learning in this?” It is a great way to capture some great insights and obtain some take away notes on how to handle a similar situation in the future.
Plans and ideas
Your journal can be a great way to list ideas (such as a bucket list) or make plans.
Become more mindful
Keeping a journal could help you become more mindful by focusing on the present moment instead of past frustrations and future anxieties. Studies show how being mindful can increase your level of happiness so using your journal as a way to be more mindful can have a real positive effect.
You can use your journal to capture quotes, images, stories or articles that inspire you.
As Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” In time, reflecting back on your journey, achievements and lessons can also be a great source of inspiration.
Make health notes
A journal can be used to capture health notes from how you are physically, mentality and emotional feeling. This could guide you to making positive changes to your lifestyle or seeking support.
Family history – legacy
“No one can tell your story. So tell it yourself. No one can write your story. So write it yourself.” Unknown
Jim Rohn said that the most valuable things you can leave to your family are your photos, your library of books and your journals.
You may want to keep your journal private or one day you may want to pass your journal down to your children or grandchildren.
Overcoming Self Doubt
Journaling positive experiences and reflecting back on them can help you build more confidence in your ability and help to overcome self doubt.
How to keep a journal
- Find a form of journaling that is right for you. You can write your journal as a blog, use an app or simply use a notebook.
- Use the above benefits of journaling to decide on what kind of thoughts, memories and insights you want to capture.
- You don’t have to write in sentences or paragraphs. You may choose to write in bullet points, lists or notes.
- Take a few minutes to write daily or if that isn’t possible than write as regularly as you can.
Journaling isn’t complicated and it doesn’t have to take much time. There are numerous benefits and ultimately it’s a place where you can just be you. Happy journaling!
“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” Natalie Goldberg
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams, is being comfortable with yourself. Write a journal. Robin S. Sharma
“I’ve been journaling since I was 15. It’s a wonder that I’ve managed to be a successful human being considering how pathetic I appeared in many of my daily musings. It’s a testament to growth and grace that I’ve come this far. I used my journals as therapy. Oh, the time I wasted worrying about men and weight, and what other people thought! In my 40s, I got wiser. I started using journals to express my gratitude—and watched my blessings multiply. What you focus on expands.” Oprah Winfrey