For the first 20 years of my life I believed that keeping a journal was a typical girl thing. A secretive, vulnerable, and mysterious thing that girls would protect with their lives. I remember going to my sister’s room, searching this mysterious item. After several searches, my little brother and I would always be left without a catch; she definitely knew how to hide it. Back to the topic; journaling. A thing, as many other things, I would never expect myself doing on a daily basis two years ago. I would be ‘too manly’ for that, I wouldn’t have anything to write about and I would never write down my emotions and feelings in a fucking notebook. Ironically enough, the first thing I bought when I made the conscious decision to stop living life and start loving life, was a notebook....
Fast forward 1,5 years I just finished my 4th notebook, and that made me realize that I want to share with you how I experience journaling, how what effects it has on me and why I believe it is one, if not the most, powerful thing you could do on a daily basis.
Let me take you back to the moment I bought my first notebook. It was the 3th of September 2016, in Helsinki, Finland. I decided that I wanted to do more in life and after doing some research, journaling seemed to be a good start. I went to a shop in Helsinki, and bought my first ever notebook for 24,- (not kidding). A bizarre price for a few papers kept together by a hard cover, you might think. Well, I don’t know why, but at that moment I felt like it was worth the investment. And I couldn’t have been more right.
The first thing I wrote down, as I recall in my story, was this sentence: “I don’t have a clue what I am doing but I can’t wait to find out”. And there I went, with my notebook, ready to capture everything I was going to experience during my time in Finland.
I never started with a certain purpose or idea where I wanted to go. I just figured it was a nice way to start and the Internet was telling me that journaling helps in many areas in life, so I thought why not give it a shot? After doing the research it turns out that the benefits of journaling are widely acknowledge and researched. According to Thai Nguyen some benefits of journaling are: increasing your IQ, evoking mindfulness, achieving goals, better emotional intelligence, boosting memory and comprehension, strengthening your self discipline, improving your communication skills and boosting your self-confidence. According to the Pschycentre journaling also reduces stress, helps you solve problems more effectively and helps you get to know yourself better. Not bad for writing down some words, right?
I figured that starting with gratitude writing (writing down 5 things I was grateful for when I woke up and when I went to bed) would be a great start. It turned out to be the best start, let me tell you that. It helped me to appreciate what I already have, instead of focussing on what I don’t. And it’s something I am still doing on a daily basis up until today.
The funny thing is when I started journaling, I would always try to hide it. I would write when no one was watching and would keep my notebook to myself. I was afraid to be judged or labelled as weird. Not so different from my sister after all, right?
It wasn’t until the end of my time in Finland before I realized how powerful that daily journal had become. It wasn’t just a notebook filled with words or sentences anymore; it was a book that helped me remember all the amazing things I had experienced during my time in Finland. It was a notebook filled with stories, amazing experiences, dumb shit, incredible moments and much more. I could pick this book up today, have a read through it, and experiencing my time all over again. One single word can bring back so many memories. Memories that are normally hard to keep, since you have so many, but that will stick in your mind somewhere after writing them down.
Such as experiencing how it was like to see the northern lights for the first time. (Spoiler alert, it was incredible!!!)
After this first experience with journaling, I was hooked. I wanted to make sure I would capture every step of my journey. I wanted to be able to look back in 10 years and pick up one of my notebooks and just re-live whatever I had experienced. To tell my kids and grandkids what their dad or granddad had done when he was younger. I wanted to be able to live and breathe the amazing experiences I had experienced, and the ones I wish would’ve lasted forever.
On that moment I realized, this is something I wanted to do, and not something I had to do. I felt the power of journaling and was determined to never give it away. I was going to write my life’s story!
After finishing the notebook I got from my girlfriend, as a gift before she left to Washington D.C. for her internship and I left for mine, to Barcelona, I realized how much more than just a journal this notebook had become. It wasn’t just a journal anymore, where I would write about events, experiences and adventures. It became a diary. A diary that I would not only use to describe certain events, but a place where I would share how I felt, what was going on and how I could get stuck with myself. A diary where I would share my highs, but more importantly also my lows. A diary that allowed me to get out of my head, write shit down and help me figure it out.
This diary is the most powerful notebook I have finished so far. It is packed with 3 daily lessons I gained from my experience in Barcelona so far. It is filled with 5 happiness moments of every day, with 5 things I am grateful for in the morning and 5 at night, with 3 things I resisted every day and with more. It contains my goals, my vision, my dreams and the characteristics of the person I want to become. It captures all these memories hopefully forever. Memories I would never want to give up.
When I started this blog I really thought I could keep it short this time, since this topic is quite straightforward. However, I failed again and lost myself in the writing. I guess shorts blogs are just not my thing, apologies for the long read once again…
So, for me it’s save to say that I believe in the power of journaling. It helps me to get more clarity, capture memories, re-live amazing moments and it helps me to reflect on myself. After doing reflection Sunday, I am able to identify how the week went and on what aspects I could improve. It gives me clarity for the next week and the things I should focus on. To me, this power is a power I will never let go.
And even if you don’t feel like reflecting on yourself, keeping a diary, sharing your emotions and feelings, journaling doesn’t have to be any of these things.
Journaling is an incredible way to just capture your memories. You will look back in a few years and see how far you have come, and how many bumps in the road you overcame. You will look back and see how proud you should be of yourself today, because of all the steps you have taken!
A journal should not be the one thing that can give you this proud feeling, you should give yourself that feeling already! You should be proud of yourself already! Because you have taken steps, you have grown, you have developed and you have learned! Even if it might not feel that way, or if it doesn’t feel like you have moved a single meter, ask yourself this question: where were you a year ago?
A journal or diary, whatever you’d like to call it, can be a great tool to help you remember to be proud of yourself today! It can help you with your insecurities and doubts, help you re-live every moment you have experienced and many more.
Have a great day and don’t let your memories slip! Buy yourself a notebook today and just start, you will thank yourself later!