Lessons Learned From My Journal

journal-stack

I spent the last month writing in my journal every night before bed. My journal writing was simple. I wrote one page each day and focused on the events, thoughts and feelings of the day. I tried my best not to filter anything and just wrote out the events of the day.

I can’t say that this month changed my life or drastically increased my level of productivity or happiness, but it did have a few effects that altered my life in different ways.

1. My perception changed

I used to come home from school or work and by the time I climbed into bed I had a fuzzy recollection of what had happened during the day. The days seemed to blend together and the routines of my day seemed to dominate my memories, making it difficult to distinguish weekdays from each other.

When I started writing in my journal each day I quickly established what my daily routines were (wake up, get ready, drive to school, go to class, etc.) and began focusing on the out of the ordinary experiences. What was the weather like? What did we discuss in class? How was the drive? Did I read or learn anything interesting?

This changed my perception of each day and helped me to recollect each day with more ease. I think this was a great exercise for my memory, both short- and long-term.

2. I dealt with my emotions more often

Focusing on the events of the day led me to reflect on my thoughts and emotions as well. While writing by hand, my mind was forced to slow down to analyze the major moments of the day. Whether I was angry, happy, sad, frustrated, excited, or unenthusiastic, I had to face these emotions while my pen was marking the page.

Facing these emotions was not easy but it helped me deal with them more often. I don’t know if I slept better of I’m more happy or anything, but I do feel like I have a better grasp on my emotional well-being and how different things affect my emotional state. I think writing in my journal had a direct effect on this.

3. My life became more interesting

I had a thought one night while writing in my journal (which will probably become a blog post in the future): Maybe we’re dissatisfied with our lives because we’re too busy watching other people live their lives. I believe that this is true. We are so busy watching other’s lives on social media, the Internet, TV shows, celebrity news, and other outlets that we don’t spend any time actually living our own lives.

While writing in my journal this month I noticed two things about my life. The first is that I wanted to do more interesting things that I love to do and the second is that I realized how many awesome little things I do on a daily basis.

My wife and I play fun games and go on great adventures. I get to write this cool blog and share my story with others. I have amazing college classes, professors and colleagues that I get to interact with almost daily. I have a great job that lets me do what I love on a flexible schedule. I get to serve others around me often.

Writing in my journal made me realize how many great things I have the opportunity to do and it helped me want to do more amazing things instead of scrolling endlessly through the Internet.

 

So all in all this month was amazing. I didn’t get to blog as much as I had hoped and I apologize for not posting more stuff about journal writing. Next month I promise to do better. I’m hoping to become a daily planning ninja and I want to share everything I learn with you, so stay tuned (and make sure to subscribe to the mailing list so you don’t miss a post!)

If you haven’t started writing in a journal yet, then now is the time. Grab a notebook and pen and start today. I’m going to continue writing for the rest of the year, although I will experiment with the time of day and mode of writing.

If you have any great stories about journal writing or other types of handwriting, please share in the comments below.

One last thing before you go. Pat Griffith just started an awesome blog, Pat On Purpose, about intentional living. He created this cool letter writing challenge. It’s worth a look if you’re looking for more handwriting-related challenges:

Jumpstart Your Minimalism: Take the 17-Day Handwritten Letter Challenge

1 Comment

  • Zed says:

    This sounds like a excellent experiment. Currently I am writing myself little notes in a variety of places and mediums (notebook, Google sheets and email reminders). But I think it is probably more rewarding to head back to the daily paper based journal. I think I will try it out and report back how the thought experiment goes.

    I think your points on being content or even grateful with your current life is an amazing benefit. Thanks for sharing!