Journalling – So what’s the big deal about keeping a journal?

The J-word – love it or hate it, it has the power to change your life for the better, if you can find the right kind of journalling for you.

I remember keeping a diary as a little kid, when we lived in the US for a few years and my parents thought it would be good for me to keep a diary to look back on later in life.

I read through it recently and it was hilarious what a 6 year old thought was important to document. We made a trip to the Grand Canyon and all my 6 year old brain thought I should document was the small pink cactus flower that we saw as we were walking towards the Canyon!

I kept a journal for most of my school years too – but this was not the sort of thing that was likely to be published as a great literary work. It was always full of petty things and are hugely embarrassing to read through now.

And yet keeping some sort of journal does seem to have a powerful and positive effect on my thoughts. It’s no so much about writing something I’m going to want to read again. It’s more about getting things out of me and onto the page so that I don’t have to keep thinking about them. It also helps to bring things out that I may not have been conscious were in there – some good, some bad.

I’ve actually tried several different types of journaling and they all have their merits – I seem to keep switching between them depending on what suits me best at the time.

My favourite (at the moment) is keeping a Gratitude Journal. The idea, as far as I can remember, came from reading a book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach (her lastest book on this is here  – note this is an affiliate link). So at the end of each day, just before I go to sleep I take my cute notebook and I write down 5 things that I am most grateful for that day. It can be simple things like someone making me laugh. Some days this is really easy to think of 5 things, some days I have too many things to chose from and end up writing 7 or 8 things. Other days are harder and I have to fall back on very basic things like that I have a bed to sleep in, and that I am healthy.

Having completed a gratitude journal every single day for over 18 months I have found it to be incredibly helpful. After a few months I started noticing during the day specific things that I knew would be going in my gratitude journal later – so I became more grateful at the time when something nice happened.

I have also tried following the advice in the book called “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron in doing Morning Pages (more on this from Julia’s own website here: ) you can find her book here (affiliate link to Amazon UK)

This is a longer process where you site quietly first thing every morning and hand write three pages of whatever comes into your mind (with no sensoring). I found this a very interesting exercise in getting to know what was going on in my thoughts. It does take a lot longer than the gratitude journal and I have somehow not been finding the time for it lately. I hope I’ll start up again soon – one day, when life is less hectic!

There are so many other things that journaling can be useful for too. Another really interesting book on the subject is Journalution by Sandy Grason (more about Sandy on her website here and you can find her book here on Amazon)

Do you keep a journal? Does it serve you, or could your practice use some sprucing up by trying something slightly new?

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