Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, George Lucas, Isaac Newton and Ralph Waldo Emerson all have one thing in common. What did all of these successful men do? They developed the habit of keeping journals.
Many of them started journaling at a young age and continued it throughout their lives. Some kept not only personal journals, but academic journals on topics that interested them as well. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a prolific notebook keeper. He had over 200 journals on different topics. His collection grew so large that he had to create a 400 page index just to find information within his journals.
Successful people throughout history have kept journals. A few years ago, I read The Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan. As I read, I remember wondering how our 40th president found time to write. Now, I know that he incorporated this habit in his daily life. During his two terms in the White House, he wrote every night. Not only has journal writing contributed to the success of many people, but there are other benefits that we can all gain from keeping a journal.
I wish I could say that I have mastered this art, but I haven’t. Many times in my life, I have started journaling only to stop a short time later. Only recently have I made journal writing a daily habit. Keeping a daily journal has many benefits.
Below are seven important reasons to make journaling a daily habit in your life.
1. Record Your Life’s Story
Your journal can be a gift to your future self, your children, your grandchildren or maybe even another family member. Over a lifetime, we all have many rich experiences to write about. To keep your cherished memories and life story alive, start journaling today.
2. Record Ordinary Life Events
It’s not enough just to record the ordinary events of life. The goal is to organize and find meaning in the routine of our daily lives. According to Barbara Fredrickson, if we look for the positive meaning and longterm benefit in the best, worst and ordinary events of our lives, we will develop a more positive mindset and enjoy numerous health benefits.
3. Saves Relationships
Have you ever said something that you wanted to take back? We all have. In your journal, you can freely express your feelings without the risk of saying something you would later regret.
4. Offer Insight
Journaling everyday provides clarity. The practice of recording how you think, what you do and how you feel offers insight into what is going on in your heart and your life. As you do this, you will begin to recognize patterns. You can use this information to make changes…large or small.
5. Hold Yourself Accountable
Is there something that you want to change in your life? Do you want to eat less food each day? Fewer calories? Healthier food? Exercise more? Be more helpful? You can measure whatever you want to focus on in your journal. It is a great place to keep a daily record of your progress.
6. Become a Better Problem Solver
Journaling about a problem gives us the opportunity to take an issue out of our head and put it on paper or our computer screen, as I like to do. Which ever method you prefer, journaling gives you an opportunity to look at your problem…think about it…write about your feelings…mull it over… and decide how to tackle it.
7. Reduces Stress
Keeping thoughts and feelings bottled up is a recipe for disaster. In his research, James Pennebaker from the University of Texas at Austin has found that researchers are only beginning to understand the benefits of journaling. Writing can put structure and organization to anxious feelings helping you to get past them. He has found that there are many positive health benefits gained from journaling.
So many of us live our lives moving from one activity to the next until we collapse into bed at night. Taking just a few minutes out of the day to journal will prove to be a win-win all the way around.
To develop the habit of journaling, it is best to do it at the same time every day. It can be done first thing in the morning as a way to start the day. I have added journaling to my morning routine and have journaled almost everyday since I started. It is a habit that I value and one that I wish I had started when I was younger.
You may find that you prefer to journal at the end of the day. Many people journal in the evening as a way to end their day. Evening writing can be used as a time to reflect back on the day while the events of the day are still fresh.
One thing is for sure: To incorporate the habit of journaling into your life, you have to be intentional about doing it.
“Just do it! First you make your habits, then your habits make you!” ― Lucas Remmerswaal
Question: Do you journal at the same time each day? In the morning? At night? What works best for you? I would love to hear your ideas in the comment section below.