“You need to clean up this mess,” he said.
He then proceeded to throw out my most private journals from high school – all of my random thoughts, my observations as I traveled through Europe (on trains writing while my friends talked), all of my goals and aspirations (thoughts on life as a teenager are precious), grand ideas, unabashed boy crushes, insecurities, the embarrassing stuff, and the never-ending quest to always make some sense of the world, GONE.
They were my thoughts, and he destroyed them.
My mother had died recently, and my family life was in shambles. He was a friend who tried desperately to help us cope – to help bring some sort of normal back into our lives. Well, he failed.
And, he discarded, without a second thought, my most prized, raw, thoughts from ages 14 to 16.
Decades later, I was not consistent in keeping a journal or diary. Life would bring many challenges, and my excuse was that I didn’t have the time to write every day or “my life was too crazy right now.” (Oh hell, I wish someone would have told me back then that life was always going to be crazy in one way or another.)
During the years I did keep a journal, however, I experienced so much more clarity and focus. I love to read those journals now and notice how I’ve grown. Heck, I have my lamentations from my former abusive marriage (book in the making, really). I read them sometimes and wonder what the hell I was thinking. This is growth. My journals are visible reminders of how I’ve changed, became a new person, and did a 180.
I highly recommend journaling every morning. (Make sure and hide them so no one discards them, though.)
Six Ways Journaling Every Morning Will Greatly Enhance Your Life
Journaling offers clarity.
The most important reason to journal, especially if you are a writer or a creative professional, is to do the brain-dump and ignite your creativity. Have you ever sat down to write and have trouble writing the first sentence of your story? Or, creating a decent paragraph feels like a root canal without anesthesia? We’ve all been there.
The answer to this conundrum is to clear your mind before starting your day.
Journaling offers clarity so you can create freely. It washes your mind of the stuff you are worried about, angry about, or daydreaming about. This applies whether you are a writer, an artist, the head of a corporation, a mail delivery professional, or if you work at Starbucks. Clearing your mind by spilling your guts on paper or your iPad is not only a great way to begin your day and brings your mind to the present for better focus. Also, freeing your mind of random thoughts helps you focus on what’s important to you.
Journaling generates creative ideas.
Most of us have kept a journal at one time or another, whether for years or months. Have you ever read your journals from years ago? They are a gold mine of writing or creative ideas!
A journal can be a constant source of inspiration and discovery. I’ve started keeping a journal again in 2020. Every morning, I write for 15 minutes about whatever is on my mind. I do not know what I am going to write about when I start, and I just free-write. Most of the time when I am done writing, I discover a new topic idea for an article or story. I now have hundreds of ideas waiting to be explored.
Even if you are not a writer, your journals are your precious thoughts that could be the catalyst for new inventions. Artists, scientists, explorers, business professionals, and yes, writers, have kept journals and live by them. Leonardo da Vinci gathered ideas from his journals for his paintings, and Virginia Woolf kept a diary for most of her life. Einstein, Thomas Edison, and even Lewis and Clark also kept diaries.
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” – Christina Baldwin
Journaling reduces stress and negative emotions.
Expressing how we feel no matter how negative or difficult is important for optimal mental health. Journaling every morning will help reduce the negative thoughts recycling in your mind. Pouring your unadulterated thoughts and anger on paper or on a keyboard where no one will see them helps calm you, helps you put things in perspective, and helps to remove the junk in your mind so you can make better decisions.
There have been times when I journaled and found myself crying by the end of my writing session. Those were the times when I was thankful I wrote because I got the chance to release my emotions. My problem didn’t just disappear, but I felt I could tackle it with a more rational and practical approach after writing about it. Make sense?
Journaling can be cheap therapy.
“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.” — Jennifer Williamson
Journaling inspires self-improvement.
Most creatives, like writers or artists, are deep thinkers. Journaling helps us to think better and inspires personal growth.
If we write about an event that occurred, allowing ourselves to process the pain, confusion, and anger, we inevitably learn to see things from a different perspective, and we heal. When we keep a journal, we can record our deepest insecurities, feelings, fears, and desires. We learn to reflect and respond instead of react. Being completely transparent with ourselves without worrying about anyone else reading our musings can be very therapeutic, even life-changing.
Journaling helps with organization.
A journal doesn’t have to be a tacky story about your love life, about the time you lost your virginity, or a story about how much you were obsessed with the next-door neighbor. It can be anything you want it to be. Stream of consciousness is the most popular form of journaling – just write what comes to mind with no editing, rethinking, or rewriting.
Don’t like stream of consciousness? No problem! Keep a journal to get organized. Make a grocery list, write down your life goals, make a to-do list, write down what you hated about the last episode of Game of Thrones, write a letter to someone to organize your thoughts about them, make a fitness schedule, create a project list – you name it!
“Keeping a journal implies hope.” – Erica Jong
Journaling creates gratitude.
Keeping a journal will create gratitude in your life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read my prior journals and felt a tremendous amount of gratitude for my life, my experiences, how I’ve grown, and what I accomplished. It’s inspiring, encouraging, and sobering.
Some people write about what they are thankful for every morning. They focus on one or two things and write what comes to mind. This is a great way to learn to appreciate your life. Even if you are struggling financially, romantically, or with your health, writing down just one thing you are thankful for every morning will improve your mood and outlook. Studies show gratitude journaling decreases depression and lowers your risk of heart disease.
Not a day passes that I don’t wish I still had those high school journals in my possession – oh, the stories I could write today!
In the past, I wrote in my journal by hand. Now, I type like everyone else in the 21st century, and I write for 15 minutes every morning before I start my day.
Just like establishing a new habit, journaling daily might not be so easy at first. Decide on a set time (10 to 15 minutes is a great start!) and location to write without any interruptions. Turn off your phone and any social media notifications and begin writing. It will not take too long for you to look forward to your journaling time!
It doesn’t matter if you want to write in a fancy notebook or type on your laptop. What matters is starting your day with writing to clear your mind, remove the cobwebs, and create focus no matter what you have planned.