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.
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.
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.
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.
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)