For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a notebook. In my early teens, it was a diary where I could pour my heart into and cry about that boy that I was oh so very much in love with, but who had no interest in me. When I got a little older, I used it as a way of letting out my frustrations about the world, the injustices, unfair people, and alike. And when I got even older than that, I’d say in my late teens, I started using my journal as a way of sorting my thoughts. I used to, and kind of still live by the sentiment of “how am I supposed to know what I think before I’ve had a chance to write about it?“ Journals have been a part of me growing up, and becoming the person that I am.
My journals have supported me through the good times, and mostly through the bad. I don’t know about you, but for some reason, I never really used my journal when something amazing happened. I usually used it to come to terms with things not going my way.
Your mute therapist
And this is actually the first reason why you need a journal in your life if you don’t already have one: it helps you through times when you aren’t very happy. Gosh, it is so therapeutic spilling your guts in a save place where no one will judge your mean and petty comments, where no one will get bored by your rants. The pages are so forgiving and patient and therefore: comforting.
Yep, I’m talking about journals like I do about good friends. Because, guess what? A journal can be your best friend in the whole wide world. It keeps all of your secrets, listens endlessly to all that you have to say, doesn’t roll its eyes at you because it doesn’t have any, doesn’t interrupt you by suggesting a solution that you didn’t ask for, and doesn’t have to leave mid-rant because her lunch break is over. Nope, it just sits there and waits for you to come and blow off steam. Nice, huh?
The shut-off button for your brain
Yeah, really nice. And also kind of unresponsive, don’t you think? But here comes the other cool thing about writing: It helps you find solutions to problems that you couldn’t have thought of without a pen in your hand. Now, don’t think I’m crazy. I’m not. “My mother had me tested.“ (Sorry, couldn’t resist to get out that reference.)
When you write, it’s like your brain shuts off, and all that you are left with is your feelings and a weird connection to the universal wisdom from the clouds above. When you write, and you let the pen glide over the pages, not thinking about what you’re writing, you suddenly realize that your hand is doing its own thing. It just writes, and you have no idea where the words come from. They just pop into your head and then directly into your fingers.
Have you ever experienced this kind of flow? When there was no brainpower necessary? Maybe you know this from meditation, or from running, or dancing, or whatever it is that makes you feel good vibes. The brain shuts off, you’re in the moment, and suddenly you have thoughts in your head, and you have no idea where they came from.
When you keep drawing a blank …
That’s exactly what happens while writing. So writing, is actually a really great problem solving tool. Think of something in your life right now that you don’t have a solution to. Maybe it’s something to do with your job, or your relationship, or your family situation. You have wrecked your brain for a new idea, for a different approach to handling it, but you keep drawing a blank. Then I suggest you write about it.
Write about all of he things that you thought of, write about the frustration that you feel about this unsolved issue. Get it all out until you don’t have to think about what to write anymore. While writing, ask the pages questions. And once you stop actively thinking about the answer, you hand will write it on the pages. It’s like magic. Honestly.
When I don’t know what to do, which option to take, what my next step should be, I write about it. And I will get my answer. Even if I don’t get a clear answer, I will get a way better sense of how I feel about my options. And I bet you will find the same.
When you write, you are honest
Which actually brings me to the next awesome reason why you need to get a journal asap: You learn more about how you feel, and what you want.
Let’s say, you write about a situation that bugs you. You really rant about it. The great thing is that you don’t have to censor yourself because no one is going to read it and maybe judge you for it, so you are completely honest. And then suddenly you write something along the lines of: „Man, I wish …“
Boom, there you have it, your hint about what you truly want. You don’t sugarcoat it, you don’t shrink it or make it more socially acceptable or whatever. When you write, you are honest, and direct. And that is exactly what brings you clarity about what you want. Which is really good to know, because now you can go out and get it.
Which is especially great when you are in a funk, and you have no clue whatsoever what put you in the funk in the first place, and therefor no idea how to get out of it. When you write about your mood, your frustration, you figure out where it comes from, and what you can do about it.
Why journaling is the shit
Ok, let me sum up why journaling is the shit. And I’m not even mentioning the fact that strolling through a book or stationary store alone can make you happy because it is plain fun. So, here goes:
- It’s like a best friend that is always available – even at 4 am at night.
- Journaling shuts off your brain, and helps you find solutions, and ideas that you wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.
- It gives you access to your feelings, and to what it is that you actually want.
- And if a new best friend, a problem-solver, and a clarity maker in one isn’t enough to get you excited, it also helps you get over a funk by showing you what it is all about.
Let your notebook lighten up your mood
Phew, ok. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a really big fan. I use my journal excessively. Every day. And I suggest you do the same. It doesn’t only help you gain clarity on what you want, but it also help you lighten your mood when all you want to do is ball your eyes out.
And one extra little tip: If you want to lighten your mood, go back to old journals once in a while, especially if you have some from your teenage years. It is so much fun reading all about the things that used to be important to you. And it also makes you realize how far you’ve come.
So, if you don’t already have one, go get yourself a journal, best today, so that you don’t forget. It may just be the best investment that you make in your emotional well-being.