Mindfulness. Understanding. Self-improvement. These three tenets can offer a firm foundation for success. But oftentimes, developing even one of these life-changing traits can require an exhausting amount of physical and mental exercises.
What if I told you there’s one simple habit that can transform your life?
That secret habit is journaling.
Writing in a journal every day allows us to connect more directly with our inner selves, make sense of the stressful and traumatic events that trouble us, and offer clear guidance for improving every aspect of our lives.
I know journaling isn’t easy. Only 16% of people actively journal or write in a diary. Cultivating a habit requires persistence, dedication, and the willingness to learn along the way.
And it also requires some helpful advice to get you started.
Consider the clear benefits of journaling with some helpful beginner’s tips outlined below.
Success is only one journal entry away.
1. Manage Your Stress With Journaling
Our lives are stimulated by countless experiences on a daily basis. Many of these events are negatively internalized and intrude in our thoughts. Even past experiences we pretend to avoid can impact our daily functions and sap our mental energy.
Keeping a journal can help make sense of them.
Researchers found that across a two-week period, students who wrote about their new college experience improved their working memory and were better able to make sense of stressful past experiences.
These students were also more successful and earned a higher GPA for the current and subsequent semester when compared to their counterparts.
In a follow-up study, those who journaled about stressful events reported a reduction in intruding or avoiding negative thoughts.
By clearing our head of discordant memories, they theorized we may free up our mental processes for other, more positive tasks.
Unfortunately, every day has the opportunity to fill our head with antagonistic thoughts. If we don’t take the proper steps to clear them, they’ll continue piling up and weighing us down.
Journaling is a key habit that can reduce the effect of this brain clutter and help de-stress our lives.
2. Take Time to Self-Reflect
Another benefit of journaling about negative emotions is that we may better glean a sense of perspective about our true selves and desires.
This present-moment awareness and self-actualization is often referred to as mindfulness.
Mindfulness asserts that there is a gap between the perspective of our current self and our ideal self and that this divide is the cause of deep-seated unhappiness.
By setting a small portion of time aside every day — perhaps just fifteen minutes — we offer ourselves a brief moment to peek into the window of the soul.
This period of self-reflection allows us the opportunity to better align our goals and values with our ideal self.
A study found that being mindful about ourselves in the present moment can help reduce unhappiness by limiting the amount of time we spend comparing who we are with who we want to be.
It also found that being mindful reduced the perceived gap between the current and ideal selves and ultimately increased happiness.
Maintaining a journal allows us time to be mindful, better perceive who we truly are, and make more accurate plans for future self-improvement.
3. Improve Your Creativity
Creativity is an important characteristic for enhancing our problem-solving skills and improving the quality of our work.
But can creativity even be improved or learned?
Absolutely. Journaling has been shown to amplify our creative skills.
The most creative portions of your brain are active when you first wake up. Don’t make a coffee beforehand. Don’t brush your teeth. Journal first. Write down your best ideas first thing in the morning, unrefined, and let them flow naturally.
By utilizing our creativity when our brain is most primed, we will exercise our creative muscles.
And like any muscle, it will dramatically improve through use.
4. The Best Ways to Journal
To get the most out of journaling, there are some times, environments, and practices to consider.
While your creative juices are flowing in the morning, this is also when we have the most motivation. Journaling is an easy habit to make, but it’s just as easy to break.
Writing in the morning improves your chances to continue since you’ll be more likely to keep at it.
And put the keyboard or phone away. Writing by hand has been shown to be consistently better for our memory and learning capabilities when compared to using a keyboard or digital device.
So now that you know when to write, and how — the question is what to write about.
The first study made clear that writing about anything and everything isn’t necessarily the most productive behavior to get the most out of journaling.
Always make an effort to provide a narrative coherence to your ruminations when reflecting on yourself or the events of the day.
Writing down immediate thoughts did not provide the same memory boons or stress relief compared to those who pondered more deeply about their life’s events.
Still Searching for Success?
Putting your pen to paper is a surefire way to improve your memory, reduce stress, and give you a richer perspective of who you really are. But knowing how journaling helps is just one step along the path to success and self-improvement.
Is journaling not for you? Or are you still hungry for more comprehensive advice to improve your life?
Consider attending one of my live events to help you unlock your full potential.