Why Keeping a Journal is Good For the Mind and Body
By John Khoury
Thoughts are funny things. If you sit for 15 minutes and let your mind have free reign, you will think of 100 different subjects as each thought links to another thought, like stepping stones, until you have no idea what you were thinking about a minute ago. In this sense, thinking is pointless. You would do much better in such a situation to think nothing. It’s called meditating.
But if you do want to think, want to go from one stepping stone to another with an actual purpose, want clarity on an issue; you’ll need to write things down. This is one of those “quick wins” in life where you can go from “wherever you are” to “much better” in a hurry. Here’s why you should write stuff down on a regular basis:
Chronicle Your Own Life
You’re worth it! If you want to be a great person, start acting like one. Great people often keep memoirs because they know what they recount has value. You can pretend. Pretend you are your own biggest fan and you want to know everything about you. Everything you have to say and think is fascinating, and preserving it for future generations is the only way to treat such worthy information.
Your Mental Mirror
Journaling can act as a mirror to really show you who you are and what you’re doing. When you take a good look in that mirror, the natural instinct will be to improve upon what you see. The mental acne will demand attention and your thought process will be subconsciously treated and polished. You’ll automatically start to ask yourself “is that really how I feel” and “what can I do to make this better”. It will provide you a level of clarity that those stray thoughts never could. When you write thoughts, it becomes easier to pick out inconsistencies and faults in your thinking. There they are in black and white. This will lead to the next point.
When you know what you’re thinking you become more confident. It’s so much easier to talk to people about yourself when you’ve given your thoughts a good shake-down. Now you’ll know what you’re talking about.
Inner calm comes when those straying thoughts are pruned. Racing thoughts are like having several people talking to you at once, right after each other. Writing slows it all down and puts them in a nice queue so you can handle them one at a time and with the necessary diligence.
Convinced? Great, so let’s get busy. Some of you may prefer a pad and pen. It does have its charms but of course there are obvious downsides. If you use your computer, you’ll want to use some sort of database. Why? For all the great things you can do with a database – sort, categorize and search. Google “personal journal” to find others. The keywords “personal journal download” should lead to some programs you can install on your PC.
How often should you write? Whatever feels right, but at least once a week. Obviously spending half of each day writing about the other half is missing the point.
What to write about? Good that you ask, this is not as easy as it sounds. You want to write about topics with substance and direct the conversation to somewhere productive. Here are some ideas:
• Highlights of the day/week/month
• What do I want?
• How can I improve the quality of my life?
• How can I be a better person?
You should write about such topics at least once a week. Forcing yourself to do so will stimulate your brain to search for answers in the meantime. Notice this focuses on positive answers – negative stuff isn’t being ignored you’re just giving the focus to the positive. Instead of writing about “things I don’t have” you’re writing about “what I want”. There’s a big difference in terms of mood and accent.
If you think about it, the most valuable things you have are your thoughts. Treat them well, develop them, invest in them and watch them do the same for you.
John Khoury is founder of Liquic.com, a comprehensive online health and wellness resource for individuals seeking a better quality of life. The site provides access to coaches, psychologists, yoga instructors, dieticians, fitness experts, relationship therapists, counselors and financial advisors regardless of physical location. You can download their secure and encrypted online journal at (www.liquic.com/myjournal).
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