I am forever grateful to have stumbled across an in-depth article on the art of journaling on the Daily Stoic in 2019, right after I left my marriage of 37 years. I took up journaling immediately. For me, this practice has been enormously beneficial.

Often our thoughts are chaotic; we can create mind spin by rehashing the same negative stories repeatedly, without progress. If we don’t release those thoughts, it can be difficult to control destructive thinking or self-deception, resulting in just increasing our own internal torment.

Journaling is a way to take our minds from chaos to coherence. It can be an escape from our always-turned-on culture, to be alone and truly examine our thoughts, to reflect, to work through problems, and to clear our heads.

As Daily Stoic’s article, The Art of Journaling: How To Start Journaling, Benefits of Journaling, and More, points out, there are copious studies and scientific evidence pointing out the very tangible benefits of journaling:

“In the Research section of this piece, we mentioned one study that proved how journaling helps improve well-being after traumatic and stressful events.

Similarly, a University of Arizona study showed that people were able to better recover from divorce and move forward if they journaled on the experience.

Keeping a journal is a common recommendation from psychologists as well, because it helps patients stop obsessing and allows them to make sense of the many inputs—emotional, external, psychological—that would otherwise overwhelm them.”

Journaling has helped me get baggage out of my head and heart and onto paper, which is an emotional release. It helps me pay attention to where I’m paying attention. In other words, I notice my thinking and ask myself: is this thinking working for or against me? I write down action plans and boundaries for myself. When I’m writing, knowing that no one else will read it, I can really mine deep into my feelings, regardless of the topic.

I also like to record what I’m grateful for, to hunt for the good stuff in my life. Gratefulness has been shown to be a very direct route to increased happiness and contentment. Even if terrible things are happening in your life, recording what is still good in your world can be remarkably empowering.

One surprising benefit I’ve discovered has been re-reading my past journals. It has given me certainty to know the person I really am and to note the positive progress I’ve made in various areas of my life.

I highly recommend the wisdom on journaling that you will find at the Daily Stoic. Perhaps you can find real benefit in journaling? Like everything, it takes commitment to stick to it. For me, it’s now a daily habit in the morning before I pick up my phone or start my day. I look forward to it.

Here are a few questions that may help you get started with journaling:

  • What am I presently anxious about?
  • What am I presently upset about?
  • What am I presently excited about?
  • What am I presently grateful for?

With loving kindness,

Coach Billy