The Joy of Journaling

by Tom Hinton

Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals. It’s also a wonderful way to capture ideas, expand on your thoughts and express your inner-most feelings.

During The Course of 10,000 Days retreats, we encourage attendees to journal. If you’ve never journaled, start slow. Simply write a few sentences about your day. Capture some of the highlights and positive moments. Write a few words about the new people you met, the places you visited, what you ate, and your reaction to the day’s news.

The number one reason people tell us they don’t journal is they don’t feel they have anything worth writing about. Let me challenge that idea because it’s both devaluing and suggests someone doesn’t appreciate their gifts and talents. Everyone has something significant to record about who they are, what they think and what they do. You can use journaling as a healing tool, communicate with your inner-child, or help you move beyond a failed relationship. It’s great therapy; and, it’s free!

Also, let’s clarify another misbelief. Your journal is for your eyes only. It’s not something you need to share with anyone. In fact, most people who journal don’t share their writings with anyone. It’s simply a tool people use to capture their personal thoughts, reflect on their day, expound on new ideas, and list their blessings, accomplishments and goals.

Here’s another benefit to journaling. It can be a very healthy exercise, both psychologically and emotionally speaking. Oscar Wilde, the 19th century playwright, said, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train!” So, yes, journaling can also be fun when you look back at an entry and ask yourself, “Did I really think that!”

I’ve been journaling for ten years and I find it’s a helpful way to exercise my left brain – the analytical and rational part of the mind. Ironically, when I’m journaling, my right brain is relaxed and subconsciously creating new ideas or solving problems. On numerous occasions, I’ve found myself struggling with a problem only to start journaling for ten minutes and, suddenly, I found a solution to that nagging problem.

But, ultimately, journaling helps you better know yourself. There’s a joy to discovering the real you – your likes and dislikes, tastes, and what makes you tick. Journaling should also serve as an emotional release for you. It’s a powerful way to express yourself in blunt terms without the fear of anyone ever hearing or seeing what you’re thinking at this moment. On more than one occasion, I’ve written things in my journal that I just needed to get off my chest. Once I had written it, I was done. I vented and released that negative thought, but I was glad I never expressed it verbally.

The joy of journaling is the ability to express yourself without fear of incrimination or judgment. Your journal is your ally and it’s one of those precious gifts you can give yourself at no cost.

Try it and let me know how it’s going.

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