Last year I was challenged to keep a journal of thankfulness. I thought this was an odd challenge but one I took on.
For a full year, I wrote a journal entry every day. Each entry was regarding my thankfulness for my wife.
I reached the one year mark on November 26th, 20111.
Throughout the year, I looked back upon the days I wrote in the journal.
I wrote in my journal many things this past year. Two major events happened to my wife this year. They were the severe injury to her ankle and her quitting her job.
It is amazing the things that you forget happened. In the journal I wrote about the talks I enjoyed with my wife, the events we enjoyed together, and her attributes that I was thankful for.
You also notice trends in your life.
I noticed the activities I was most thankful for, the type of attention I most appreciated, and what made me happy.
This is an activity I will continue pursuing. It is an activity I encourage all leaders to do.
After the writer’s death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.
— Jean Cocteau
Writing in a journal provides great benefits.
- You have a written record of your activities
Writing about your day in a journal helps you keep the memories you formed. While reviewing the journal I wrote, I found many things I did not remember. They were significant moments but moments that passed from my memory. It is a great way to see where you came from.
- You can leave it to loved ones
When you die, you can leave a written account of your life. Your journal contains your knowledge, your trials, your triumphs. Your family members will appreciate seeing the life of their father, brother, or son through your eyes. I feel it is one of the greatest things a person could leave for their loved ones.
- You improve your mental health
Taking time to write in your journal can help relieve the stress of the day. Writing out the stressful events and situations helps you define the situations that are troubling. With the stressful situations defined, you can now act on resolving them.
Starting a journal is the most difficult part of the journey. It is a habit you must form. Once the habit is formed, it is easy to keep it.
Here are five suggestions on how to start writing in a journal:
- Buy a journal
There is a journal design for every person. Go to the local bookstore and purchase the one that looks like it fits your personality.
- Find a place that is comfortable
Search out a place that you feel is conducive to writing. Ideally it will be quiet and free of distractions.
- Schedule a time to write
When you schedule in time to write, you make it a priority. Find a time that works and stick to it.
- Begin writing
Now is the time to start writing. Write down whatever comes to your mind. Did you have a particularly stressful day? Did your dog do something funny? Did you accomplish a goal? These are just a few of the things that are worth writing a journal entry for.
Take time to review your journal. During the review time you will discover many things about your life that you either forgot or did not know. You may laugh, cry, or feel regret. You will also learn more about yourself than you could imagine.
This is not a pen, it is a prayer, one must have compassion for that.
— Anne Frank
Question: Do you journal? If not, why? If you do, what have you learned about yourself from the process of writing in a journal? Please share your answers in the comment section below.