Many successful people throughout history have kept journals. From Presidents to poets, people usually journal because chronicling daily thoughts and experiences can create a meaningful way to both remember and share their life’s journey.
Scientific research supports that journaling provides a few unexpected benefits, mainly because as you write your journal, you are utilizing the left side of your brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is working, the right side of the brain is free to create and process your emotions.
So essentially, writing a journal can be therapeutic because it removes mental blocks and allows you to access your full brain potential. This can unlock greater understanding of yourself and everyone around you.
Should My Journal be Secret?
We all remember those little diaries we had as a child with the lock and key on them. They unfortunately made us think that all of our journaling should be top secret. But, that is far from the truth, unless of course you really want to keep your journey private. But, consider this: Your journal could be something that your child or grandchild would treasure many years from now. Your story could guide them through times of struggle or challenges. Your journey could teach them something about themselves and their family history.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, says it best, “It has never been easy for me to understand why people work so hard to create something beautiful, but then refuse to share it with anyone, for fear of criticism.”
If you journal through your life’s journey, eventually you will have a masterpiece (or several of them) that contain important experiences and many of the emotions you have felt through the years. There can be times of challenge, tragedy, and triumph captured in the day-to-day musings written in your journal. Often, being able to share your journey and the wisdom and insight you gained along the way can make a difference in someone else’s life.
Recent research in neuroscience reveals that our brain is actually hardwired to respond to a story – people crave stories to feed that need for a “connection” to someone who understands their personal plight. So, there can be joy in writing and reading about your journey, especially when you preserve it and share it with others.
Some benefits to journaling include:
- Personal clarity: If you ever feel like thoughts and emotions are jumbled and confusing inside, taking a few minutes to write your thoughts and feelings will bring some clarity to the situation. It allows you to step back and “connect the dots” to any confusing parts of your journey.
- Release anger and stress: Holding emotions in may be socially expected, but you can pour your heart out in your journal, releasing stress, sadness and frustrations. By doing this, you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
- Find solutions to problems: Have you ever found a solution to a dilemma and thought, “It was right in front of me the whole time!” Problem-solving is usually a left-brained activity, using your analytical perspective, but sometimes solutions are found by engaging your right-brained, creative and intuitive thinking. Writing unlocks your hidden capabilities.
Where do You Begin?
It all begins with your first entry. Most people include the year and date at the head of each post. Write about your day, the problems you are facing and wonderful moments that occurred that might seem insignificant to anyone but you. Write about the big events and the small personal ones. Include some description about how the events of the day made you feel. Let it be a true reflection of you and your journey.
Once you have written your journal for a while, it might be time to preserve it by getting it published. This part may actually be more fun than pouring your life experiences into your journal. There are websites online that allow you to create your own books with digital software. The result is a professionally printed book that you and your family will cherish and perhaps hand down to future generations.
A perfect example is Bookemon.com, which makes it incredibly easy and affordable to produce a beautiful book that looks like it came from a bookstore. Simply, register for a free account with Bookemon and then pick a template for your book’s layout. Next, upload your content directly from PDF or Word files and then adjust and customize the pages by choosing a special font or clip art from the menu of options. Finally, you can upload and edit photos or drawings directly to the pages of your book.
Each of us have our own journey and a personal story to tell. Journaling can provide you joy many years from now as you read your own thoughts as they happened and remember your journey. Your journals can be meaningful treasures for your children or grandchildren. Getting started is simple, fun and it costs you nothing to try it out.