Monday, April 6, 2015

Beyond the Workout Log: Revealing Wisdom by Journaling

This past week I began a new journal.  The pages were as blank as fresh fallen snow (dare I say that word as we eagerly anticipate spring in Chicago?).  In a lot of ways, keeping a personal journal is similar to keeping a workout log.  Whether or not you record your sets and reps, you are likely familiar with the benefits of doing so.  One of the number one reasons is to track your progress.  If you have no point of reference to what you did last week, six weeks ago or six years ago, how can you identify (and appreciate) how much you have evolved from where you once were?

Journaling is a way to tap into your brain with a new perspective--writing out your thoughts, word by word, triggers a different thought process in the brain.  We communicate differently when writing than when speaking and typing.  I tend to express myself better when writing (or at least that's when I feel most articulate and it is what I'm most comfortable with). 

I have kept a journal for over twenty years.  In the past, my intention was to re-read entries and, along with some added commentary, publish a memoir.  While that thought still enters my mind from time to time, I avoid stressing over it and prefer to focus on one entry at a time, one day at a time.  Sometimes I write with the purpose of clearing my mind and grounding thoughts so they no longer circulate in my head.  Those negative and anxious thoughts tend to die once they've been buried in my journal.  Ironically, on those same pages, I "plant" positive thoughts.  The positive thoughts are able to "grow" and be viewed with new insight.  There have been countless times when I've begun an entry with no other intention than to clear my mind and, shortly after, I have identified moments of pure revelation and inspirational "shifts."  

Here are some thoughts to ponder if you are new to journaling or just need some ideas to break through your writer's block.  Keep in mind, a spiral bound notebook from Barnes & Noble isn't necessary.  Grab piece of paper, pen (or pencil) and get started.
  • Find a quote that inspires you.  Write it down.  What does it make you think?  How does it make you feel?  What is going on in your life that makes you relate to it?
  • Think of a moment you felt accomplished.  What did you do to reach that point?  What specifically happened that made you feel successful?  What can you do in your life now that will make you feel accomplished?
  • What kinds of decisions are you facing in your life right now?  Are you at a crossroad?  What are the outcomes of each choice?  Are you listening to your instincts? What are they saying?
  • What is important to you?  Who do you value in your life and why?  
Even if nothing else seems to come of the entries, at the very least they provide moments to reflect on later in life--remembering how far you have come and how you no longer think of the people you once did and how circumstances that once caused havoc brought you to a much better place that you can only appreciate now, in hind sight.  Other entries will remind you of how far you have come, and how you think of other people and other circumstances, but with gratitude and happiness that reignite every time you indulge in the words and memories.

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