Want more clarity of mind, a better grasp on your strengths and weaknesses, and improved writing skills? Grab a journal, notebook, or piece of paper and read on for how journaling can help you reach your goals.
One of the commitments I made for my 108 Days of Transformation was to write more. I want to be a better writer. As a kid, I heard that keeping a journal was a good way to develop your writing skills. So, I used my pink and purple, locking diary to record my daily thoughts. Usually, it ended up being about some boy I had a crush on. But the content didn't really matter. What is important, was that I was getting comfortable putting pen to paper.
Writing, eating better, losing weight, exercising have a lot in common: you just have to do it. It doesn’t matter if you suck, or look ridiculous, or fall on your face. The important thing is to start. And then keep doing it. That simple. Right?
108 Days of Transformation is all about creating small changes, small habits every day that lead to vast, momentous life changes over time. Keeping a journal is not only a great way to start developing your writing skills, but it is one of the ways you can keep track of those small, but crucial changes in your life. Start seeing your life in a different light, communicate your thoughts, feelings and emotions to yourself in a different way. It’s relaxing, enlightening, and rewarding. Really, it is.
Stuck in a rut?
In yogic philosophy, we talk about samskaras, which are deep, often subconscious, thought patterns. If you believe in karma, they are the imprints from our past lives that we are born with. I like to think of them as the thought processes we develop, usually in accord with our daily habits. Its been said that 70% of the thoughts we have from day to day are the same. For example, probably around noon each day you start to think, "What am I going to have for lunch today?" Our habits include our thoughts.
Each time we have a though, it leaves an impression on our mind. When our thoughts are daily habits, they start to create grooves. These grooves are the samskaras.
Some samskaras are harmless, or even helpful. For example, if you have a nightly habit of thinking about what you are going to eat for lunch the next day, you might be more apt to prepare a healthy lunch for the next day. Sometimes, our samskaras are not so beneficial, and even hurtful. If you have a habit of thinking, "I look fat," every time you look in the mirror, you most likely start to think you are fat. The more we think these thoughts, the more ingrained or "grooved" they become. We can get stuck in a groove. Often, we are stuck in a groove and we don’t even know.
This is where journaling comes in handy. Especially when paired with meditation, keeping track of our thoughts on a daily basis helps us identify when we are stuck in a rut. It helps up realize these thoughts might be the basis for our low self-esteem, our depression, or self-destructive tendencies. When we better identify these thought patterns, we can make efforts to be free from them. We can consciously cultivate better, more productive thoughts. We can be free from thoughts like, “I’m too fat,” or, “I’m not smart enough,” or whatever self-deprecating or unproductive things we tell ourselves.
Journalling can help us get a grasp on what our samskaras are. When we keep track of our thoughts, the patterns begin to emerge. We can see the pitfalls and error traps we fall into. We can better identify what caused us to fail and what things will help us succeed.
And this is why I’ve made the commitment to keeping a journal. To truly identify those ruts that I’m stuck in, and slowly work my way out of them.
Tips for getting started
If you feel stuck in a rut, or like you haven't been as successful as you'd like to be, try keeping a journal. Here are some simple ways to help cultivate the habit:
· Do it daily, at the same time every day. For me, I’ve found the best time to jot a few things down in my journal is after my morning meditation. As with meditation, it’s easiest to cultivate a habit when you do the same thing every single day, at roughly the same time.
· Make a goal to write at least one sentence. Most likely, you will find that you have way more than one sentence to write, but a single sentence is an easy, super attainable goal. Literally any literate person can write a sentence.
· Carry a notebook with you, in your purse, backpack, coat pocket, etc. Often, I find the urge to jot something down throughout the day. It’s nice to be able to scribble my thoughts down when I’m struck by a thought, realization or insight.
· Buy a really pretty notebook that you are excited about. For my shallow brain, I’m way more inclined to want to jot something in my gold brocade printed moleskin notebook than a blue plastic thing. But that’s just me. Do what works for you.
I encourage you to try journalling out. I think you will find it easier than you expected, and more enjoyable than you expected. Enjoy your newfound clarity of mind, connection with your habits, and writing skills!