I’d kept a few journals when I was younger, but for lazy reasons could never keep up with it. A few months ago, I’d finally decided that I wanted to commit and better remember and assess my life by writing about it daily. Now that I’ve picked up journaling again, I’m finding it incredibly cathartic, not to mention, it quiets my busy mind and provides me with perspective. But these aren’t the only benefits of keeping a journal.
1. It’s reflective, insighful and encourages personal growth.
Journaling forces you to examine yourself, your wants, needs, etc. and delve into them a little deeper. I often go into it thinking I’m going to write about X, but my mind often takes me to Y and I end up putting down what’s truly in my thoughts. But even when I go on a tangent, I’m learning a little bit more about myself in the process, especially when I allow myself to ramble and jot down whatever my mind wants to purge. You may start to gain insight into patterns, for example, harping on the same issues over and over or a repeated behavior. Self-analyzation is essential to our development. Awareness -> learning -> personal growth.
Think about all those moments, all the details of your life, even something as small as a compliment from a stranger that completely transformed your day. Perhaps you struggled through a difficulty and came out on the other side of it stronger and smarter? Though it may have had an impact, these things are so easily forgotten within time. But how satisfying must it be to read some pages back and recall the last time you helped someone in need? Or perhaps you did something you weren’t too proud of? Good or bad, those memories and lessons are part of what make us who we are. And it’s so valuable to know exactly how we got here.
3. You can become a better writer.
Generally speaking, the more you write, the better you get at it. Writing for yourself eases the pressure of living up to the grammar standards we learned in school and allows you to be creative, spontaneous and free to write whatever. It sounds counter-productive but you wouldn’t believe some of the ideas and sentences you’re capable of when you’re not playing by rules.
4. Regain the art of handwriting.
You know what we don’t do anymore? Write. As in, handwriting. Studies show that handwriting may utilize more cognitive brain activity than typing. At the very least, it allows you to carefully focus on your words and intent. Kind of how you would savor a meal (hint: writing), as opposed to just scarfing it down (hint: typing). Write to keep your mind sharp!
5. Your journal is a judgment-free zone.
I still struggle with revealing some of my innermost thoughts, partly because I think someone might read it, partly because there are certain things I hate to admit, even to myself. Because if it’s on paper, that makes it real (and what a scary thing that is). Regardless, I know that there will be a day soon when I can freely and without restraint pour my whole flawed self into it. With each day, I get more and more comfortable being completely uncensored. And I know the journal won’t judge or tell me to feel a certain way because that’s what it does best! Its job is to encourage our words and to listen to those words with acceptance and without judgment.