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These 8 Good Things Will Happen When You Start Writing Diaries

These 8 Good Things Will Happen When You Start Writing Diaries

Writing to yourself is an important means of self expression. Whether you call it a diary or refer to it as a journal, having a place to write down your thoughts, feelings, memories and personal impressions about life can be healing and teach you to know yourself better. It can also unlock the power of your creativity, and inspire you to manifest dreams that might otherwise stay hidden. If you don’t keep a diary already, here are 8 good things that will happen when you start writing diaries.

1. You’ll Know Yourself better

History tells us that the Greek philosopher Socrates, often credited as the source for the famous adage Know Thyself, used a method of teaching which involved dialogues, questions and answers between individuals going back and forth that whittled an issue down to its deepest level of truth. When writing a diary, it is very common for us to engage in similar forms of inquiry on paper, writing out questions about life and then answering them ourselves.

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Whether you come to a final truth in the end is less important than the actual process of giving voice to your own inner reasoning and various points of view. This process of allowing more than one point of view to emerge encourages you to witness your own self, even when it may be fragmented, unsure, or expressing emotions that contradict each other. It allows you to see and acknowledge your true complexity. Witnessing the richness of your human experience and being able to see it on paper truly helps you to, as the great philosopher said, know thyself.

2. You’ll Express Yourself

Expressing yourself is another important aspect of keeping a diary. Beyond simply offering a means of self expression through the written word, often diaries are full of doodles and drawings that accentuate the actual text of what is being written. These doodles can be as simple as the butterflies drawn by a child who is joyful, or the tornadoes on the edge of the paper created by a teenager who is disturbed.

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Regardless of the actual content, this mirror of expression allows you to say what otherwise might be too challenging to say and give voice to emotions that may otherwise be repressed. It allows you to rehearse difficult conversations on paper as well. Having the blank page to fill up is in many ways an analogy to life, seeing yourself be expressed one letter and one doodle at a time.

3. You’ll Work Through Hard Choices

When life sends you any kind of challenge, you can work through those options in your diary, noting the moral implications as well as the emotional pains of decisions that are difficult to make. As an extreme example, here is a link to a famous diary entry of a Patrick Breen, a member of the ill fated Donner party group of pioneers who were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-1847, some of whom resorted to cannibalism

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4. You’ll Develop Emotional Intimacy

Keeping a diary is a process not only of self expression but also self reflection. As you read what you have written, whether it is a recent entry or one from many months or years ago, it becomes a means of listening to yourself and uncovering the emotional landscape of who you truly are. By developing this sense of intimacy with yourself, it opens the possibility for greater emotional intimacy with others.

5. You’ll Feel Better as You Put Your Thoughts and Feelings on Paper

Often, a diary is that safe place where we can unleash thoughts or emotions that might be too uncomfortable to express in a more public setting. Whether it is venting anger, writing about a romantic crush, or being the important place to grieve the loss of a loved one, having a safe place to release your thoughts and emotions usually makes you feel better as a whole by providing an outlet for thoughts and feelings that otherwise could otherwise get bottled up inside of you.

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6. You’ll Build Memories on Paper

Sometimes even the smallest details of events in our past are items we grow to cherish as we get older. By keeping a detailed diary you are documenting those moments in your life that are worth writing about.

7. You’ll Brainstorm New Ideas

Having the opportunity to brainstorm and toss out ideas without being attached to an outcome is a diary tool used by some of the worlds greatest artistic geniuses. Here is an example of how film director Stanley Kubrick used this technique to arrive at the title of one of his most famous films.

8. You’ll Create a Map That Holds Secrets to Your Own Evolution

A diary reveals far more about a person than simply the details of what is written inside of it. You don’t have to hold a college degree in the science of Graphology (handwriting analysis) to see how your own handwriting reveals secrets about your psychological state of being. Noticing how your handwriting changes as you grow older, when it is bold and confident versus when it small and timid, is just one of the interesting benefits of keeping a diary over a long period of time.

These 8 reasons to start a diary will hopefully get you started.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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