One of the more frustrating aspects of parenthood is the realization that your kids are usually resistant to learning from your life experiences. No matter how many times you may say to them, “Been there. Done that. Here’s what I learned,” they continue to think you could never understand what they’re experiencing and feeling. Keeping a journal can help with this.
Then again, we have all been guilty of ignoring our own lessons learned, haven’t we? I’m sure that, like me, you’ve thought to yourself, “When will I learn NOT to do that, again?” Or, “When will I learn NOT to date that type of man again?” Keeping a journal will help you to remember such life lessons, placing them front and center in your memory.
Besides these two very practical reasons for keeping a journal, I also believe we are not meant to live solely in our heads and keep things to ourselves. As social beings, we are meant to live among other people, to share our experiences and knowledge with them and to learn from theirs as well. After all, so much of what we know about and learn from others is because it was written down and shared with us.
I have been a faithful journal writer for most of my life, documenting every night my experiences, feelings, thoughts and musings of the day. The very act of writing, whether by moving a pen across a piece of paper or my fingers across a keyboard, is cathartic for me. Getting thoughts out of my head and into a form where I or others can read, hear and understand them, is quite valuable, not to mention insightful.
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals
and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold
a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”
– Robin Sharma
Journaling as a Self-Improvement Tool
I became fully aware of the sheer power of keeping a journal from reading those written by others. Old journals, especially from historic figures, are amazing to read. Learning about what they were thinking and feeling as significant events took place can be extremely illuminating. It’s as if you can hear their voices from beyond and picture them doing the things they wrote about.
As you read their words, it’s almost as if they are saying: “Thank you. Thank you for noticing and caring about me and the life I lived while on the earth. Please learn from my experiences. Share them with others. And share your own too, so that others may continue to learn from our experience in life and know how to find joy.”
The thought that you can have the same effect on others who may read your journal someday is kind of awesome, if you think about it. Hearing such messages in our hearts from the journals of others fills us with deep gratitude for what was written and shared. It can inspire us to write about our own lives and share our experiences, so that others may someday read and know about us and how we lived.
What Should You Write About in Your Journal?
Keeping a journal is perhaps the best self-improvement tool available to you. That “conversation with yourself”, which can be so powerful when written down yet so fleeting as mere thoughts, can help you better understand yourself and grow as a person. For example:
- When and how did you experience joy in your past?
- How can you replicate that in your present?
- What can you do to ensure there will be joy in your future?
Reading about your own experiences, and how you handled, overcame and grew from them – or even if you are still working on improving them – and figuring things out, can be quite enlightening. You can also see how you’ve progressed in accomplishing specific tasks, goals, and dreams. It’s a great place to be open to, and aware of, how your dreams and pursuits in life change and grow, as you change and grow yourself.
For a deeper exploration of the power of keeping a journal, including the different types of journaling you can choose from, please pick up a copy of my book, The ABCs of Joyful Living, and let me know how the steps I outline in it have helped you have more joy.