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Journaling Can Change Your Life!

"As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.” —William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond

My daughter Lauren journalling

People keep journals for all kinds of different reasons: to chronicle the events of their lives, to work through their deepest feelings, to write down things they are grateful for, to sort out their dreams and goals, and even for recording whatever ideas come into their heads, whether it be for a new song or invention, an exotic vacation, new homeschooling ideas, or even bold plans to save the world. A journal is a sacred space to say whatever you want without worrying about anyone else's reaction. It's for your eyes only!

"What a comfort is this journal. I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved." —Anne Lister, I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791-1840

​Expressing your innermost thoughts is deeply therapeutic. Fear, anger, rejection, and sadness are all emotions that are often very difficult to express verbally, but in the privacy of a journal, you can let it all out. Oftentimes when people go back and read through previous entries, they see patterns in how they have responded to things. This can be very helpful in coming up with new strategies to respond to difficult situations and change the outcomes. Therapists often recommend writing a letter to someone you are angry with and never actually mailing it. This lets you express your anger freely without actually saying things you may regret later. A journal can be a place for that, too. Get the anger out, and then when it comes time to deal with that person, you can be more calm and rational instead of throwing more gas on the fire!

One of Lauren's favorite journals

"I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart." —Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

As humans, we are creative beings. I get lots of new ideas every day, and if I don't write them down, they just disappear. A great way to use your journal is first thing in the morning as a place to jot down all the creative ideas your subconscious works on while you sleep. This can be super energizing and helps set a wonderful, positive, creative tone for the rest of your day.

"Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things — childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves — that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.” —Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991

Time flies as you get older, and I have noticed that things that I thought for sure I would never forget just disappear into the ether. I started keeping journals for each of my children as soon as they were born that had a little bit of family history in them, details of their first days on this planet, and fun little milestones, like their first foods, words, steps, first dance recital, birthday party, etc. I wasn't able to keep up with all of them nearly as much as I would have liked, but I would still highly recommend it to anyone. My kids all have so much fun reading them, and there are so many details in them that I wouldn't be able to remember if I hadn't written them down!

My grandmother wrote a journal of family history and events that I really enjoyed reading. As opposed to a dry history book, it's a part of my personal history, and things that happened to my ancestors helped shape who I am today. It's fascinating to compare the difference between life when the telephone was on a party line (where the whole neighborhood could jump on and listen in!) and mailing a letter took weeks to where we are today with instantaneous instant messaging to anyone anywhere on the planet!

Gratitude journaling is also very popular right now, and that is a wonderful use for a journal. Spend a few minutes every day, either at the start or the finish of the day, writing down things that you are grateful for. They can be things that happened that day or ongoing things that you are thankful for. It's very easy to dwell on our problems. When we choose to dwell on what we are grateful for, it changes our whole mindset to something more positive and giving. It also puts us in a better place spiritually.

Perhaps my favorite use of a journal is for daydreaming and scheming! I love jotting down ideas, dreams, and goals. The more you allow yourself to plot out big dreams and then get specific about the details, the more likely it is that you will make those big dreams happen! You can use your journal to write down lists: career goals, vacation spots, your gifts and how you can use them better,

your bucket list, new hobbies to try out, exercise strategies, your food diary, party ideas, and anything else that comes into your mind. Then walk the big ideas backward all the way down to first steps. Take those first steps and transfer them to your planner, and you are on your way to really designing your life!

You get one chance at this one life you're given, so why not make the most of it? Spend some quiet time every day to be alone with your own thoughts and dreams. Shut off your phone, the computer, the TV, the video games, and even music if you find it distracting you. Work through your emotions, write down the fun details of your days, and fearlessly dream those big dreams! Let's do this together!

What are some of your big dreams? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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