People have journaled for thousands of years not only to record their experiences but to clarify thinking and help make sense of our place in the unknown.
Journaling as a practice is as old as handwriting itself but it really saw its modern-day origins in 15th century Italy in accounting and has steadily emerged as a process for capturing and reflecting on daily life.
While you may be forgiven for thinking it was dying art in the age of laptops and mobile phones journaling has seen a resurgence in recent years as people are rediscovering the physical and mental benefits of putting pen to paper.
Since we began our journaling habit our lives really have changed.
We have found that living an examined life and reflecting on our behaviours consciously has allowed us to hone in on our priorities and to live more authentically.
Now we won’t go as far as Socrates when he said ‘an unexamined life isn’t worth living’ but it is definitely a damn sight better and there is an immense feeling of satisfaction reflecting on the small changes as they compound making us slightly better with each passing day.
The Three Key Benefits of Daily Journaling
Achieving & defining your goals
Although you could sail around the world without a compass like Marvin Creamer (Google him it's pretty nuts) you will likely find more success by clearly defining your destination and using journaling as your map. Just like a map you can look back at where you have come from and where you are heading, this allows you to track progress and adjust to meet your goals.
80% of New Year's Resolutions are forgotten by February 15th. Cast your mind back to years gone by and give yourself a big pat on the back if you managed to maintain your resolutions past February. If you make up the majority then you can probably attribute your goal amnesia to two things, you didn’t write your goals down and you didn’t make your goals SMART.
Journaling and defining your intentions for the day will make you more productive and driven. Over weeks and months, a slight edge will compound into a massive one. Very much like compound interest.
Promoting health and wellbeing
While mental health and wellbeing may be the most reported benefits of journaling, studies have shown that this is not limited to just mental-health but expressive writing may also offer physical benefits. Research by Pennebaker and Smyth suggests that writing about emotions and stress can boost immune function in patients with such illnesses as HIV/AIDS, asthma and arthritis.
Journaling allows you to clarify your thoughts and may just be the cheapest therapy you ever receive. Journaling will allow you to know yourself better, making it easier to avoid toxic or damaging situations in future.
Often find yourself stressed? Plenty of studies show the powerful results journaling has on reducing anxiety and stress. Since it's become hard to sod off and drink Piña colada on a beach for 2 weeks of the year, having good techniques for stress management is vital!
My personal favourite benefit of journaling is how much happier it's made me. To the point I have had to tone it down slightly, unfortunately when you say you're living the dream on a winter's Monday morning in a gloomy office people assume you are being sarcastic (... except I’m not).
The author of How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert Emmons shows that regularly writing brief reflections on moments we’re thankful for has the power to significantly increase well‑being and life satisfaction.
Daily gratitude practices will reframe your way of thinking and allow you to see the good in some perhaps otherwise crappy situations.
For example, you’re sat in traffic and slightly late for work, instead of the usual bubble of rage, after a couple of weeks of gratitude practice you may find yourself thinking ‘I’m pretty lucky to own the luxury of a car and things could be much worse, at least I’m not wrestling with a broken brolly in a sheet rain like the man on the side of the road is’
A time capsule for your life.
Ever wonder how many of your precious memories would be erased forever if social media didn't exist?
We certainly don't recommend being stuck in the past but every once in a while it can be great to look back and reflect on days gone by. We particularly enjoyed reading through our daily highlights and smiling all over again as we relive the best bits.
- Pro tip - write out your habits for the week in every daily page of your journal. This will jog your memory each morning and hold you accountable.
- Pro tip - journal before you meditate. It really helps you clear your mind and get the most out of your meditation.
Everyone should journal regularly. You’re probably thinking of course ‘you would say that’. We think the benefits of journaling are so profound that we really just care that you start the practice itself, you don’t need to start straight away with one of ours.
Crack on and give it a go, you really have nothing to lose, all you need is a pen and paper. The potential upside makes it well worthwhile overcoming any initial doubts you may have.