I’m a big believer in the power of journaling. For years, I’ve kept a record of my day, including events, people I’ve met, and yes, my thoughts and feelings.
It’s a deeply personal activity, but it’s also amazingly therapeutic.
I was inspired to journal by my friend Barbara Tillery, who has kept a record of her life far longer than I have.
Her journals fill shelves in her home while mine are written without a sense of organization on sticky notes and in half-filled notepads.
I’ve recently purchased the Day One journaling app, which makes the process much smoother. However, a biographer would die of stress if the need ever arises to summarize my life.
Journaling is a recommended therapy for anxiety and depression for good reason.
Problems are easier to face when they’re reduced to ink or text on a screen, and nothing ever seems so bad when it’s reduced to a few sentences.
It’s also great to flip back through your journal and remember all of the good times while learning from the not-so-good ones.
Like I said, my process is not organized and doesn’t follow any particular format.
Each evening, I take a few minutes, maybe 10 at max, to write the highlights of the day.
I also spend time writing my emotions and the reasons behind those.
This is an extremely helpful process if you practice cognitive behavioral therapy.
Looking at your thoughts allows you to see any “thinking traps,” or the cognitive distortions that occasionally tap on our brains and cause us to lose our rationality.
If you can’t tell, I fancy myself a writer, and I best solve problems when I can work on them in ink or type. Journaling allows me to take a problem and then jot out the possible solutions or next steps.
Through a daily entry, I can make a roadmap around or through a problem, and it gives me a sense of control over the unpredictable game of life.
If this column inspires you to journal, I urge you to be honest in your writing.
Don’t be afraid to smudge the pages with your sweat and tears. I named this column, of course, after the great song by The Beatles about guitars – but for me, journaling is the process of your pen gently weeping across the pages of your life story.
A journal is also like your Facebook memories on steroids. It’s a great boost to a day to flip back to a year or two before – and smile at how silly your big problems from then seem now. It’s also great to remember the fun times you were having then.
Just recently, I was reminded of a trip to Atlanta a few years back and my thoughts that I would die of exhaustion while climbing Stone Mountain.
Obviously, I didn’t die, and I now fondly remember the events of that day.
So, are you ready to write the chapters of your life? You’re in control of the pen – and the pages are blank, waiting for you to fill them with your adventures.
Get started and enjoy reaping the benefits.
Joshua Wilson is a marketing and public relations practitioner in Hattiesburg. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.