“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another.” – J.M. Barrie, Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan.
Like most of us, at one time or another, had wanted to start writing down your thoughts and memories, so you have a log of your life to look back on over time, or to pass on to your grandchildren. Perhaps you even have your grandmother’s journal and know the value it brings. Or one day you might want to write a book about your life and you see this as a first step.
A journal provides a wonderful record of your life; the big moments as well as everyday happenings. A year or more from now, you can look back through your entries and find out when a particular thing happened, how you felt in the days leading up to a graduation or starting a new job, or how you dealt with sending your first child off to school.
The Why – Journaling
Provides perspective: Journaling is a wonderful way of capturing what went well, what went wrong, what you are grateful for, what you want to remember. These reflections help to build a better life. But most importantly, they put into perspective the good things that happened, instead of the challenging times.
Allows reflection: Journaling helps you remember what you are grateful for, and what you can do better going forward. It also helps to deal with things that you are struggling with. Reviewing the good and not so good times help you reflect on things through new angles or reawaken ideas.
Builds thoughtfulness: Journaling helps you become more thoughtful in your own day-to-day decisions. The process of writing and reflecting back helps you think back on the consequences of your daily choices. You may do a kind deed one day and later in the month, write about how good you felt when you heard what that choice meant.
Produces calm: Simply putting aside several minutes before bed to journal is similar to meditation. All of a sudden, you are focused on your day rather than everything else that is going on in your life. Many find it also helps them get to sleep.
The What – To Write
- Try it on a daily basis, but don’t worry if you miss a day. Some entries may be long, and some could be just a sentence. Remember to date each entry.
- Start by listing a few things you want to remember about the day. Ask yourself, what will I want to know about five years from now?
- List a few things that you felt you did well today. Perhaps you won your game of tennis, or said a kind word to a neighbour.
- Add in a detail that someone 25, 50, even 100 years from now would find interesting. It could be a reference to using the Internet, or something fashionable that you are wearing.
The How – Personalize It
Journaling comes in all forms, depending on your likes and what you are good at. What would likely keep you writing on a regular basis? Figure out which tool gives you easy access to document your thoughts, ideas and daily events.
Paper journal: a blank book and a pen. Write in words, make drawings, keep going as long as you don’t run out of ink and paper.
Electronically: your smartphone, portable tablet, or computer. Best to save your journal in the cloud so you will always have access when you are ready to write.
Your Journal can be a mix of thoughts in words, drawings, and pictures. Or recorded voice memos. Have some fun, imagine it is your personal space and do what you feel like at that moment.