Have you ever kept a journal or diary? Many famous people have from Marco Polo who kept a journal of his travels, to Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, Madam Currie and Winston Churchill. People have been writing in some sort of a diary for a while, before it was called a diary. The word diary can be traced back to the early 1600’s. In the colonies of America men kept records of the weather, planting and finances in what we would now call a planner. In the 1800’s diaries were very popular in the United States. Women tended to write more about feelings in addition to events. We have learned much about history from discovered diaries from the past.

My grandmother and mother both kept diaries. After they passed their writing became a most treasured possession to me. It gives me a connection to them to be able to read their handwriting again. Their diaries were mainly a chronicle of events. By the time I was in my thirties, I lost both sets of grandparents and my parents. The diaries give me back a history I had lost, there was no one to ask about childhood events. I did have my own version of my life. I had a diary in grade school and have volumes of notebooks and journals, enough to fill a library. I’ve also written down my dreams and I still have a dream I wrote down in 5th grade! I have recorded events, written my feelings and created a gratitude journal. During this global pandemic writing has been encouraged more than ever. It can serve as a record for our families in the future and help us release emotions during this chaotic time.   

The Positive Psychology website lists 83 benefits of journaling Studies show it has many benefits. Keep in mind some issues are better worked out with a therapist rather than a journal. However, it is often useful to get our emotions out by writing them on paper. Some benefits include reducing symptoms of depression, reducing stress and reducing anxiety. Journals can help us in an addiction recovery process. They can help us work through trauma or the loss of loved ones. They can help with self esteem when we write the good things about ourselves. Journals can help us with decision making. They can enhance creativity. Writing something down can be very powerful.

Here are a few ways journaling has helped me. One includes keeping focus on gratitude. I started a gratitude journal and it has helped me stay positive during rough times. I have used my dream journals to get in tune with my feelings and and help me make better decisions. (I have taught classes on using dreams to solve problems.) In looking back through my old journals I have reminded myself of my own resilience. Looking back through my old journals also helps me remember things I had forgotten. If I can’t get to sleep I write down the issue rather than waking someone up at an unreasonable hour.

You don’t need anything fancy to start journaling any good old cheap notebook will do. I did have a custom journal made for the first time last year. I put a picture of my favorite yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch on the cover. I do this to remember her teachings daily. There are companies that will put a favorite picture on your journal. You could also tape one on your note book. Make sure your journal is secure if you live with others and want to keep the information private. We have all seen the movies where some little brother steals his teenage sisters diary, it never ends well. I would recommend writing at the same time every day at first to make it a habit. I journal in the morning as I write down dreams in my daily journal where I record other things too. If you are not ready to journal feeling just write a few events of the day to get started.

I use my journal to writing positive quotes like this one. “When I wake up in the morning, I know that it’s going to be the best day of my life. I never think about what I can’t do. Make sure positive thoughts are the first ones you think in the morning. And never procrastinate.” ~ Tao Porchon-Lynch