Five Benefits of Keeping a Journal

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.”
– Steve Jobs

How many of you keep a diary or journal? It doesn’t have to be leather-bound or be secured by a lock and key. A journal is simply a place to keep your innermost thoughts and ideas. Most of mine have been notebooks that I pick up at a local discount store. I have specifications of what qualifies for my journal, however. I usually look awhile ahead and expect it to be 70+ pages, while all of them must be college-bound lines. I don’t care about the binding too much, but I don’t like those ring bindings. They stick to the pages and make it too frustrating. Perhaps you look for similar qualities n your journals. Whatever the case, here are my top five reasons of why we all should keep a journal close at hand.

1. Our inner creativity is unleashed.

There’s no rule that says a journal has to have lines. If you don’t want lines, then purchase a sketchbook where your artistic abilities can be expressed. For most writers, the ability to organize their thoughts artistically may give them a new perspective. Writers and artists may even make words appear in an artistic way as titles of posts or lists. You may use your journal as a way to sketch your surroundings, your children or portraits of characters that you have in mind. Don’t stop with colored pencil drawings. Expand to watercolors, paints and crayons. There is nothing wrong with anything that you can draw. It’s your journal.

2. Organize Your Thoughts

Journals are a great place to unleash emotions, thoughts and concerns with an unbiased audience. Most writers consider their journal their “safe place” from criticism. They are able to use their journal to sort out ideas from situations that are jumbled up inside their heads. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with writing about these issues. In fact, it’s encouraged and may provide relief. For this reason, many consider journals to be therapeutic and relaxing. It’s a way to get the world off your shoulders and look at your situation from a new perspective.

Also, consider the many possible ways you can organize your thoughts. You can make lists, for example, of places you want to visit–or anything you can think of, really. You can create tables, columns and much more. You can create bar graphs and pie graphs (although this is getting down to the gritty for a journal, but you could.) The sky is the limit on how you express your ideas. You can even write a letter to the person that is really tugging at your heart. Do it; I guarantee it’s going to make you feel worlds better.

3. Goal-Setting and Personal Growth

Journals are great at writing out goals, both short-term and long-term. Most of us tend to forget what we want to do, or we get so caught up in the moment that we abandon it all together. When we write it down, we hold ourselves accountable for achieving it. For example, consider writing a life list in your journal. Your life list may include going to college, getting married and having kids before you’re thirty years old. These are all terrific goals, and well achievable within realistic means. Don’t be alarmed if this may change; life always intervenes one way or another.

Journaling also provides for personal growth. First, the more we write, then the better writers we are sure to become. Teachers and mentors have always told us this true fact, but not everyone realizes that re-reading their journal can have benefits, too. It’s by doing this that we learn from what we went through. Those bad experiences and those triumphs are what will guide us in the future to become well-rounded people. They teach us to let the bad go and seek the good, while we feel grateful for having come from where we’ve been.

4. A written part of our story

As we get older, the accuracy of memories may start to fade. This isn’t necessarily true for someone that regularly writes in their journal. This is because your journal becomes an accurate account of your life experience. Journal writing is about our past experiences and how we look at the future. It’s who we’ve been and who we desire to become. Consider each entry as a part of your personal memoir. It’s always fun to look back at entries you have journaled about birthday parties, family vacations and your childhood years. Don’t neglect the not-so-favorite entries, however, such as when you journaled about your financial struggle or your child’s illness. There is always something to learn from each entry, and who knows–maybe one of these entries will inspire a work of fiction.

5. Our thought process is slowed down.

Every day we have thousands of thoughts running through our brains, while most we are not consciously aware of at the time. These are thoughts reflecting our daily agendas, the schedules of the children, and projects and work. You may see something while dining or shopping that peeks your interest. While all of this is good, we don’t write 90% of them down. Journals give us the opportunity to write down these random thoughts while exploring them more in-depth on the page. This is often where lists come in handy in journals. Don’t be afraid to let your creative side go wild. Brainstorm in your journal in a way that makes sense to you.

In a sense, journaling daily can make us all better writers. We take time to write our thoughts in a more careful manner. You can journal about any topic as long as it’s relevant to you. After all, the journal is yours and many journals are not intended to be shared. Whatever your reason for journaling, consider this fact: you are leaving behind a legacy. Your journal is a historical piece about your life, and who better to author it than you? Good luck and happy journaling.

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