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Become a Better Person by Keeping a Journal

Become a Better Person by Keeping a Journal

Life comes and goes quickly. One day you are young, vibrant, and “taking charge” and then all of the sudden your are waking up, going through the motions and putting your time in. As your life passes you by, your experiences are some of the most important things you have to show for it.

Rather than let your life pass as a stream of experiences that you won’t remember later or never stop to process their meaning, keep a journal to become a better person.

Journal now to remember later

Because your life moves so fast, it’s important to keep a record of it as it passes. There are so many little things that happen to us every day that shape us as a person. Accounting for these experiences as they happen can show us how we came to important decisions later in life.

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Not only that, but journaling now can help us produce something that we can share with loved ones later in life or can use to reflect on when we need to make large life changing decisions.

Ever since I have been keeping a journal, there have been times when I have had to make a decision or have been presented with a problem and realized that I have written about the situation before. It’s great to go back and read things that I have written in the past to help my present self.

Journal to process feelings

Another great practice of journaling is to process your emotions and to help you move on with your life. For instance, if you have someone close that hurt you or even someone that passed away and you never got the chance to tell them the things that you wanted to tell them, writing “a letter” to them to express yourself can be a very healthy thing to do.

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For instance, there were things that I didn’t get to say to my father before he died. Instead of keeping the range of feelings and emotions inside, it was suggested to me to write a letter to him and read it “to him”. This has been one of the most important things that I have done to process those emotions.

You don’t have to keep your writings either. Some people write for the sake of getting their feelings out of their head and on paper only to burn them or destroy them.

Journal your successes

Another great thing to add to a journal is all of your successes. When you hit any lows in your life, it’s nice to go back and see that you aren’t a total failure and that you do have something to offer humanity. We can be really hard on ourselves, especially if we fail at something, aren’t received by people as we think that we should be, or don’t meet our own expectations.

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Having a detailed account of our successes helps us get out of negative ruts and helps us to move forward in our lives.

Journal to understand your failures

Journaling your failures is just as important as journaling your successes.

First, we can learn from our failures. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Writing down your failures and learning from them keeps us from going crazy and making the same mistakes over and over.

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Second, understanding that you are faliable is an important thing. We all can’t be amazing and awesome every second of every day. Understanding that you can and will fail keeps you level-headed and realistic. It also gives your permission to makes mistakes every once in a while without being extremely hard on yourself.

How to keep a journal

Now that you know the benefits of keeping a journal, how do you go about it? Here are several ways to keep a journal:

  • At the bare minimum write once a week. I prefer to write at least once a day, sometimes several smaller entries during the day, but if you are writing once a week, every week, you are way ahead of the game. You can use software like Day One, a plain text file, or even a pen and piece of paper (you ol’ hipster, you).
  • If you don’t want to write, you can record audio or video as your journal. The cost of storage is getting cheaper and cheaper, so keeping your life’s story in audio or visual form is now more doable than ever. Also, there is something special about saying your thoughts out loud. I know that it may seem crazy to “talk to yourself”, but before you throw it out, at least give it a try, especially if you don’t like sitting down and grinding out text.
  • Keep your journal private. Some people don’t mind to have their thoughts read aloud, but the truth of the matter is that the more private your journal is, the more that you will trust it to write the important things that you need to write. It’s OK to have feelings and observations that know one else knows.

(Photo credit: Black Moleskine notebook via Shutterstock)

More by this author

CM Smith

A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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