I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. ~ Anne Frank
There is power in the written word, especially when those words are your own thoughts, ideas, dreams, and even fears. Simply put, writing is a superfood to feed your thinking. Journaling is to self-improvement as salmon is to healthy living. Salmon is filled with incredible nutrients with tons of known health benefits, from fighting clogged arteries to staving off cancer. Journaling, in the same manner, nourishes the mind and the soul by unlocking thoughts and feelings that can be bottled up.
One of the great benefits of journaling is that it unveils your true identity (even to yourself). Quality journaling demands introspection, and as we reflect and organize our ideas, powerful thoughts about ourselves emerge. The critical question: Are you ready to learn about yourself in order to reach new and greater heights? In what is referred to as “a pocket companion for thoughtful people,” James Allen’s short and insightful book, As a Man Thinketh, claims that our actions and habits are manifestations of our thoughts.
If we desire to grow, we must be willing to confront our thinking. By understanding our thoughts, we begin to uncover how we see the world. Are we positive, courageous, and forgiving or are we frustrated, selfish, and judgmental? Sitting down for a few minutes each day to write will begin a process, which allows us to reflect about how we really see the world and our place in it. Our perspective shapes our mindset, attitude, and performance. It feeds how we think and how we change to improve over time. Take the challenge.
Take time this week and begin journaling. Get a notebook, put the date at the top, and simply begin to write what you are thinking and feeling. The brain is a powerful machine, so generating new thoughts isn’t typically an issue; the issue is usually the fear we hold in connecting with our thoughts and making sense of them as they meander through our mind. We often judge ourselves quickly, and, at times, unforgivingly. We must squelch fear to make meaning and the subsequent improvements to our lives:
- Take time to identify a specific space where you will do your journaling. Please don’t overlook this step. Creating a space for thinking and writing is powerful. By choosing a singular spot at home and work, you create a level of importance that identifies the function and capacity of this particular space.
- Write twice a day, 2 to 5 minutes each time. In the morning, think about what a great day would look like and how you can accomplish what you want. Write it down. In the evening, reflect on your day. In education, we often use the words, I Notice and I Wonder during classroom visits to capture thoughts. These four words are great stems to help you start writing. I noticed today that… I wonder how… and so on.
- Don’t censor yourself. Too often we block ourselves from writing about a characteristic or quality that we want to achieve but we lack confidence in our ability to go for it. Fight the urge to curtail your thoughts. The first step to having more courage is in displaying it to ourselves. Remember, this is about self-improvement in the category you choose for this month. Take the challenge; see the results.
Technical Tip: Journaling can be overwhelming and daunting at first. If you want to take some of the mystery out of getting started, check out The Five-Minute Journal for a structure that works. What we love about this journal is that you have to identify one thing every day that you are truly grateful for in your life. It sets the tone for the day by instilling positive emotions and feelings, which is a nice first step toward reaching your goals.
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