Our lives are filled with many events, responsibilities and recreational activities. Each of these things make us who we are. I would surmise that keeping a journal helps each of these things to work and flow better in our lives. Throughout history many great individuals kept journals and other writings of their events, happenings, spiritual experiences, teachings and so much more. These individuals include biblical prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Esther and Isaiah. They include modern leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Andrew Carnegie and Winston Churchill. History was told by those who kept journals that may have seemed obscure like Anne Frank from her WWII experience and Sarah Morgan from her Civil War experience. These and many others have gifted us such great things by keeping simple journals. These have become great books of wisdom and history.
Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it. – Benjamin Franklin
As I reflect on the benefits of journal writing I have come up with three key things that I have experienced in my life.
Being able to reflect on the days events gives me something to ponder on what went well, what I ought to be thankful for and what needs improving in the future. As I write down my thoughts and feelings I can free things from my mind. I find a sense of calm as I put these events and recollections onto paper. Often times as I start to write something out I realize that it is not as big of a problem as I previous supposed it was. Putting it down on paper has a sense of reality, but also of simplicity. Everything seems a little more achievable once I have penned it down. I am one who needs reflection. My mind goes crazy at times making up every possible scenario and creating possibilities that are unrealistic. As I start to write what I am thinking then I can see how crazy some of those ideas are and see what the more realistic course of action needs to be. My mind then calms down and I free myself of the burden of imagination.
The second great benefit of keeping a journal is to plan out what needs to be done. I love the theory of the Five Minute Journal because I can take five minutes in the morning to write down three things that would make today great. These need not be “save the whales” type of things, but what little things would make my day a success? Sometimes these things are as simple as smile at five random people today, give my wife a big hug and kiss when I walk in the door from work, or instead of driving to work I ride my bike or take the bus. Think of three things that you could do in your day to make it better. Next, I write three things that I am thankful for. I will cover this more below, but it is important to consider what we have. Lastly, put down a mantra for the day. What is your affirmation? What is your main focus? If you use the Google Chrome browser you can download a great extension – Momentum – to help you focus on your most important task for the day. These little tricks can help us stay on task and get more done in our day. We can be much more productive.
Lastly, but certainly not at all the least importance, is to be grateful. Gratitude is getting lost in our society. We are forgetting what we have been given and how we received what we have. Each and every day we should pour out our hearts to God for the many glorious things that He has given us. He has given us the earth, stars, sun and moon. He has given us our friends, talents, abilities, health and successes. It is through His grace that we have anything in this life. A grateful society is a successful society. As we show forth gratitude we are happier. We are more at peace. We have a sense of belonging and purpose. Every day we should show forth gratitude to God, ourselves and our fellow man. As we do this we will greatly impact our life and the lives around us. Give thanks in all that you do.
I have only mentioned three ways journal keeping can benefit you. There are many more available to you including, but not limited to a clearer mind, healthier body, better relationships, increased organization and so much more. I encourage you to get sucked into writing in your journal. If daily seems too much to get started then set aside 15 minutes once a week to write about your week. As you do this you will find that it can be exciting to write down your thoughts and feelings and review what you have accomplished. Soon you will want to record more regularly. You will find a release when you write. You will be able to free your thoughts, frustrations, happy thoughts and more. Hopefully you will experience a greater freedom as I have done. Also, this will provide some great stuff for your children to read when they are dealing with similar things as they grow older. As an LDS Missionary I wrote in my journal nearly every day. It is great reflection to go through those pages at times and see what I was learning and experiencing at that time in my life. My current journal pages give me support as life often comes back around again.
There are several great tools available to help us journal better that can be found both digitally and in traditional pen and paper form. I use both Evernote and Day One App to write and compile my thoughts, inspirations, feelings and teachings. I then share some of these with the world on social media and here on my blog. I don’t share everything as there are items that I prefer to keep private to myself and one day will be passed on to my children and to their children and so forth. For some guidance in journal keeping I like with the crew at the Five Minute Journal have put together. They have provided an excellent and simple to follow template for each day.
For further inspiration on daily journal writing take a look at the following articles