I started keeping a journal when I was 4. Most of my entries at that age were about cats. When I was visiting my family in Canada during the summer, I found several of my journals, ranging from first grade through high school. It wasn't a practice I kept up consistently, but over the years, journals were places for me to work out my thoughts and feelings. My teenaged entries are filled with angsty writing about the boys I loved and as I've grown older I've used these pages as a space to figure out who I am, what I believe in, and what I want my life to be like.
Like meditation, journalling is a practice that will come up again and again when you delve into the world of personal development. Many experts will recommend morning pages as a way to begin clearing your mind and almost any self-help book or course comes with journalling prompts to help you integrate the material you're learning.
I got back into journalling this year and have been consistently writing in mine since May. But I totally get that it's a practice that's easy to dismiss as something you don't have time for or wouldn't really get many benefits from, so I want to share with you 8 life changing reasons to start keeping a journal. And in case you're not sure what you'd even write in one, I'd put together a list of 50 ideas you can use (you can download it at the end of this post). It's a combination of prompts, techniques, starting points, and themes for you to explore so that your journal can become more than a chronicle for your day.
But first, let me convince you that keeping a journal is a worthwhile endeavour by showing you the many ways it can benefit your life.
1. To work through issues you're facing and access your intuition.
We hold so much wisdom inside of us. Often we have a gut feeling about what we should do in a particular situation or we have deep, cut-to-the-core inspirations that seem like flashes of the divine. But when we are living with fears or have focused on what we "should" be doing for so long, this wisdom becomes muffled. By writing in a journal we can excavate these hidden gems. Writing can put us in a state of flow and soon answers are coming up without us knowing where they're coming from.
To access your intuition write a question from your ego about a problem you're facing. Take a few deep breaths to tune into the calm, knowing place within you. Put your pen to paper and allow the words to flow out of you without thinking, editing, or stopping. For a more thorough, step-by-step guide to intuitive writing listen to this episode of Punk Rock Personal Development with Meggan Watterson.
2. To document your life.
It's so easy for life to pass us by. For the beautiful moments to slip by all but unnoticed. For the monumental events to begin to fade from our minds. By capturing them on paper we ensure that we can look back on this season of our lives more fully. To recall who we were, what we were doing, what we loved, what we were scared of. Not only does this allow us to indulge in nostalgia but it also creates a clear picture of how far we've come. Imagine being able to look back on your journal as an old woman and remember all of the adventures you had, the obstacles you overcame, and the tiny moments that captured your heart. It's a pretty wonderful thought, isn't it?
3. To deepen yourself awareness.
When we take time to sit down and write everyday we can't help but know ourselves better. My journal is the place where I grapple with difficult questions, puzzle out my beliefs, and define my values. It's a space free from judgment or observation where I can dive into the deep, uncertain messiness of who I am.
Having this space and doing this work has increased my confidence because I operate from a greater understanding of who I am, who I want to be, and how I want to operate in this world. It's easier to live in alignment with my values because I know what they are and this has increased my peace of mind.