The benefits of keeping a journal: how appreciating what you have can shift your thinking
I love nice notebooks and diaries. Ever since my teens I have written in a journal; sometimes daily, sometimes more sporadically. I find it helps me to collect my thoughts and provides a good record of the ups and downs of life. It helps me find perspective in challenging times, lifting my head to see the bigger picture.
In my early 20s I decided to follow the Christian faith and developed my relationship with God. My journaling changed as a way of articulating my prayers, recording significant bible verses and demonstrating how God was moving in my life. At the moment I am writing under three main themes: Gratefulness, Affirmations and Intentions.
Research indicates that grateful people report feeling healthier than others. Practising gratitude can enhance empathy and reduce aggression among other things.
What am I thankful for? How thankful am I feeling? What am I noticing about what is going well for me at this time? I am thankful for the blessings I have. Sometimes when things are tough going it’s more difficult to be grateful, but that’s when keeping a gratefulness journal is most powerful. It helps you to see that there is always something to be thankful for, even in the midst of pain and suffering.
An affirmation is really anything you say or think. Writing an affirmation is consciously choosing words that with either eliminate something or create something new in your life.
How am I speaking about myself? What can I write to help me to live in the truth of who I am? I am a good mum. I am a good friend. I am a good coach. Stating my affirmations helps me to live out that belief and counteract any negative thoughts I may be feeling about myself.
Articulating your intentions can take your mind off your problems and perceived limitations. Setting intentions can open your eyes to things you may otherwise miss.
What are my intentions for this day? How do I want to show up to face today’s challenges? Sometimes my intentions are small and relatively simple – to smile more and to drink plenty of water. Other times they are larger – to give a good presentation or to get something done which I have been putting off.
Taking time at the end of the day to reflect is a useful exercise. Reflection is an opportunity to ponder your virtues and things you could have done better. It’s also a chance to reflect in the here and now, on your thoughts and feelings. Reflection can be a useful way to make positive changes in life as you assess and evaluate the decisions you’ve made each day.
Do you journal? What format do you use? If you don’t journal then give it a go. I’d love to hear how you get on.