By Dru Macasieb
In looking back at 2018, I reminisced about that year by looking through photos and social media post. However, nothing truly brings me back to that year more than my journal does. I’ve noticed that photos, social media post, and even my own memory can play tricks on me. It can fool me into believing something that did not exist or it can misinterpret how the past was. By journalizing, it allows me to freely and openly express myself without holding back due to the fear of judgment of others; something that comes with social media post. Photos and videos tell a lot about something but do not encapsulate the privacy and reflective abilities a journal can do. The three main benefits to journalizing are self-reflection, self-awareness, and happiness.
Self-reflection is the ability to think about something in a purposeful way, with the intention of making connections, exploring options and creating new meaning (Ferrett, 2018). When difficult situations arise, we are better equipped to sort through the issues if we journalize and reflect at a later date than if we were to sort through the issues at the moment as our ability to rationally thought process maybe impede due to amygdala hi-jacking (heat of the moment thinking), or other variables that keep us from thinking clearly (like intoxication). By journalizing and reflecting at a future date, we are able to to see things more clearly, process and reflect on our reactions and thoughts, and problem-solve better. In the book, 52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal (2015), the author says:
When misunderstandings or disagreements arise with others, journaling helps us reflect on other people’s perspectives and be more open to how they may be feeling or thinking. We become more intentional in our interpretations and better equipped to organize our thoughts so we can approach problems calmly and rationally. Journaling also encourages a free flow of thinking, which can tap into the more creative, intuitive right side of our brain to potentially reveal more innovative solutions. (p. 19)
Self-awareness is the ability to relate well to others, face the truth, and see yourself objectively (Ferrett, 2018). By journalizing, we become more self-aware of our emotions, especially the most difficult and painful ones. We are able to recognize the triggers that ignite our emotions and can plan ahead to better avoid emotions of anger and anxiety, or react to them better so that we can foster healthier relationships. Journalizing also helps identify who we are, our desires, passion, fears, as well as the things we need to change in order to improve ourselves. It will help increase our self-confidence and maintain a positive self-image.
Happiness is achieved when we lower our levels of stress (cortisol) to the point where our levels of joy (serotonin) and reward (dopamine) exceed them, naturally. By transferring our thoughts from our mind and into the physical world (through paper and pen the use of technology) we don’t let them bottle up inside ourselves, instead, they dissipate outside of us, which leaves us calmer, happier, and in more control. When we journalize the negative moments in our life, we release the anger and pain so that it doesn’t fester insider of us. We learn from them and become grateful for the present moment. When we journalize the positive moments in our life, we share the joy and happiness and it becomes proof that good things happen in our lives.
I encourage everyone to start journalizing their life in order to be able to better self-reflect, become self-aware, and be happier. Since journalizing is about you and only for you, there are no rules or restrictions, it is solely up to you. For instances, I journal using the built-in notes app on my phone. Any time where I feel like writing down a thought, a reminder, or an idea, I just go ahead and do it. I like it because the automatically keeps metadata on the entry I create such as a time stamps (date created, updated) and location. I can write as many entries as I want and can easily find them using dates or keywords. I can even add pictures and videos as well as hyperlinks. If you haven’t journalized, what’s stopping you? All I see are benefits to this activity. However, keep in mind privacy and security as a journal in the wrong hands may become damaging to you and others. Lastly, I will leave you with this last quote which reminds me of why I should journalize regularly:
If you’d don’t know where you are, you can’t get where you’re going.
Journalizing helps me understand where I’ve been, where I want to go, and where I am in my current life. Have you ever been lost on the way to your friend’s place? When you call them up and ask for directions, they’ll usually start with, “Where are you?” You can’t answer that if you don’t know where you are, however, if you had a map, directions, street names, and landmarks, you are able to better answer where you are. Similarly, journalizing helps us to reflect on our past experiences, become self-aware of our future expectations, and create a deeper understanding of who we are at moment.
Blumenthal, B. (2015). 52 Small changes for the mind. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
Ferrett, S. K. (2018). Peak performance: Successes in college and beyond. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.