Out of all the habits I have tried to cultivate throughout my life, one has been the most rewarding — Journaling. This week, I completed a streak of 365 days of journaling, and it fits to say that it has changed my life for the better. Journaling has helped me live consciously, articulate my thoughts, help me keep myself in check, and open up to myself about the thoughts I might have ignored otherwise. I want to share some of the things I learned in the last year through journaling:
- My deepest thoughts, more often than not, are at the back of my mind. The so-called "top of the mind" is filled with daily trivial stuff. When I sit to write my thoughts, that's when the deep stuff starts pouring out. It's like a daily brain dump and helps me clear my head.
- One of the biggest challenges faced by everybody in the world, irrespective of their success or accolades or fame or health or wealth, is conquering that sense of self (our ego). I have learned that journaling is one of the effective ways to pursue that journey. It gives me a way to be honest, and open with myself. It takes some practice to open up to ourselves. But when we do, it makes our lives so much easier. If I can't be honest, open, and vulnerable with myself, I can't be those with anyone else.
- It helps me tackle negative and unhelpful thoughts. Everyone has them. But not all of those thoughts are true or valid at all times. When I write them down, it allows me to deal with them or discard them.
- There are no restrictions as to what I write in my journal. I motivate myself in it. I criticize myself in it. I boost myself up in it. I give pep talks to myself in it. I say sorry in it. Before I speak outside, I try to speak in my journal.
- Journaling helps me understand and get in touch with reality. In the age of social media, one can easily feel left out or feel like something is missing from their life. When I confront my thoughts, I realize the status quo as it is.
- Self-awareness is a skill, and journaling is the most helpful way to develop it. When we start writing things down daily, we start seeing patterns emerge in our behaviors. They might be good or bad, but growth is about learning new patterns and unlearning unhelpful patterns in our words, actions, and behavior. It helps me keep myself accountable.
- I don't push myself to write a lot every day. There are numerous days when I write, "nothing to write today," "not in the mood to write tonight," or "busy day, too tired to write." If you want to cultivate this habit, the important thing is to make an entry every day. Remember, the habit is more important than the content. It doesn't matter what you write. Once you start making an entry, your mind will take care of the rest.
- There is no specific time or way of journaling that is the best. I usually journal before bed, as it helps me unload my mind. The best time to write in your journal is when it works for you. If you want to develop this habit, I encourage you to experiment and find your best time. Instead of contemplating when to write, pick a time and start experimenting. Change your timings if it doesn't work. The same goes for the journaling medium. I use an app, but you could use a notebook, a guided journal, record audio, or whatever works for you.
- Journaling is a medium to record my memories. I can look back into my journal years later and see what and how I have been and felt and how much I have grown. Nowadays, I take some pictures just to add to my journal.
I have learned a lot about myself through my journal. It's like a portal into my mind. Journaling has been recommended by doctors, psychologists, therapists, and many others who have reaped the benefits of it. When I started, I wasn't serious about making it a habit, and I just wanted to try it out and see if it fit my lifestyle. Little did I know that it would be transformational. If you want to get to know yourself better, I'd recommend journaling. Thanks for reading!