Keeping a journal offers a way to chart your journey through life. Not only is it a meaningful way to capture feelings and insights today, but over time, it becomes an intensely personal record you can reflect on later.
Journaling can also serve as an important tool in healing. You can return to troubling issues again and again until they are resolved to your satisfaction. The timetable is yours – no one else’s.
Choosing a format
For some, choosing the book for the journal is an important part of the ritual. The good news is that most bookstores now carry lovely selections. Some offer niceties such as inspirational thoughts or illustrations on each page.
Other people choose to capture their thoughts in a simple spiral notebook – or any scrap of paper at hand. Many people nowadays keep their journals online. However, you should know that keeping your journal on a computer at work means that your bosses have a legal right to read it – and may be doing so without your knowledge.
What to write about
The word journal comes from the French “jour,” which means “day.” This should remind us that a journal is something we should write in every day. There are as many different kinds of journals as there are people. Your journal will ultimately reflect who you are. The key is to keep writing – think of the most important thing going on in your life and put those ideas down fast, to the point where writing something every day becomes a habit.
Your journal will reflect aspects of your person and your priorities – spiritual, emotional, intellectual, sexual, physical. For some, a journal becomes a diary that records what happens around you – the weather, the seasons, your thoughts and feelings. Others choose to keep a spiritual journal, working through personal issues in their lives. Some people keep a reading journal, recording the books that they read and the insights they have gleaned. If you have an athletic bent, your journal can also serve as a log of your workouts.
The following are offered as ways to keep your writing fresh:
- Make predictions about what you expect your life to be like 5, 10 and 20 years from today.
- Once a week, pick someone in your family and write about your feelings for and relationship with him or her – mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, aunts, uncles, cousins.
- Which person from history do you identify with most? What do you feel you have in common?
- Identify something about yourself you would like to change and write about how to accomplish the transition. Make a notation to check back in six months and again in a year to see how you are doing.
- Write about your favorite movie, your favorite book and your favorite song. What does your choice say about who you are?
- List the kind things you have done for others in the past month. If none come to mind, write about three kind things you can do for people in the upcoming month.
- Write about your biggest mistake and what you learned from it.
- What do you look for in a friend? What matters and what doesn’t?
- Write about your first kiss – and your latest.