Great minds keep journals. There’s no mistaking this fact. From the start of a prosperous rule by Marcus Aurelius, to the innovations of Leonardo Da Vinci, and the evolutionary writings of Charles Darwin, journaling has been embraced as not only a hobby but a lifeline throughout the years. Chronicling, observing, and pouring one’s soul into pages meant for no one else has incredible benefits that you too can harness.
Journaling will change the way you see the world and yourself.
Journaling has mind-body benefits
“In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand move then as it does today.” – Franz Kafka
Of course, aside from reflection, journaling brings with it many helpful habits and benefits, such as helping your prioritize, adjust your thinking, and outlining important tasks that have to be done in a specific frame of time. Further, journaling helps you ruminate more clearly, especially if you are the kind of person who writes down whatever is on their mind. A 2006 scientific study even found that journaling facilitates “critical thought, expressing feelings, and writing focused arguments.”
A number of studies have also revealed that journaling also helps you get through stressful events, work through anxiety, boost immunity, and even speeds up healing after surgery or injury. Writing down how you feel about events or just in general has a cleansing effect. The more you pour your frustrations and fears onto a page, the less you feel it inside. The more you talk about what makes you happy, appreciated or grateful, the brighter you feel by the end of your journaling session.
Journaling lets you gain control
“I’ve been keeping a diary for 33 years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments. ‘That’s not what you said on February 3, 1996,’ I’ll say to someone.” – David Sedaris
Obviously, you have experienced by now the limitations of human short term memory. You might remember something for several hours, but once you get overwhelmed with information, the first thing you wanted to remember is often what gets forgotten. This is why Da Vinci would scribble down seemingly random words in his notebooks, because he wanted to recall an idea later on. Recording thoughts in a journal is doing for your brain what a USB drive does for your computer—you can storage information in a separate location where it’s safe.
Journaling gets you organized
“As part of your morning creative burst, use your journal to review and hone your daily to-do list. Review and hone your life vision and big picture goals.” – Benjamin P. Hardy
Find your mind a jumble? Diaries can keep your mind comprehensible. Though you don’t have to journal every single morning, as Hardy suggests, you can record even the smallest of daily musings, like, “I need to go to the bank tomorrow.” Bullet journals are particularly effective with decluttering your mind and sifting around information.
But aside from helping you organize your daily activities, journaling can also help you achieve your goals. There was a study that took participants from six countries who all worked in different industries. These 149 participants were separated into 5 groups and were asked to use various ways of thinking about their goals and working towards them. The 5 methods were:
- 1.Simply thinking about the goals
- 2.Writing down goals
- 3.Writing goals down and forming commitments
- 4.Writing down goals, forming action commitments, and sending those documents to a supportive friend
- 5.Writing down goals and commitments and sending those along to a friend, as well as a weekly progress report.
The 5th group performed best, with the 4th group coming in closely behind. Surprisingly, Group 2 came in 3rd, with the mere act of writing down their goals boosting their chance of success by 42%.
How can simply recording your goals be so effective? Journaling not only clarifies what you truly want, it helps you brainstorm the process to getting there. You can figure the how, why, and when, not just the what.
Now that you know the benefits of journaling and why you should be doing it more frequently, there is nothing holding you back from starting a journal. All you need is a notebook, a pen, and some time to think. From there, it doesn’t matter how you start. Begin with bulleted points, doodles, sketches, mind-maps, long paragraphs, or short blurbs. Grammar and punctuation need not apply here. Go with the flow, following the stream of your conscious and however you choose to visualize it. Journaling should be a pleasurable experience, after all.
The benefits of journaling will change your life for the better. Not only is it a practical and affordable way of connecting to your conscious, you can enhance the way you perceive the world. Find your purpose, plan, and reflect with pen and paper—that’s the power of a journal.