I have journaled on a diligent basis since about 2013. I started because it became an outlet for me to get my thoughts out of my head. Since then it has evolved to multiple forms of journaling whether it was a basic pen and paper journal or my current digital journal in the DayOne app. I was going through my old journal entries and I realized a few things.
Journaling Is An Antidote To Nostalgia
How often have you looked back at old photos and remembered the “good days” of something and wish that you could be transported back to this simple time when you were living your best life?
Journaling helped me realize that these times do not exist. The reason we have nostalgia is because we know what happened in our past. The other day I was thinking about when I was 23 years old hanging out with my friends at the neighborhood bar. I was having such “good times”.
The truth was I had tons of concerns about my career and overall direction in life. I felt like a loser because I had a college degree but worked at a coffee shop with no sense of what I wanted to do. I was waiting for someone to save me.
Journaling is the ultimate antidote to nostalgia and brings you back to the present moment. Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun to be nostalgic sometimes but when you live in it all the time and wish you were doing something else with your life, nostalgia can be more harmful than good.
We Don’t Change Unless We Are Intentional
Looking back at journals from years ago, I realized, “I’m complaining about the same shit 6 years later. 6 YEARS.”
Why haven’t I done anything about it?
Why am I not taking action to change things? Have I not worked at it hard enough?
I looked a little deeper and I realized that journaling has helped me realize that we as humans are capable of change but we do cannot change as fast as we want unless we are intentional about it each day. I imagine our neurons wired into our brains like water flowing down a stream. It is possible to change the direction of the stream but it does take a lot of work. Those old paths need to be blocked out and maintained. The new paths need to be formed and eroded for a period of time.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Journaling Isn’t Magic
Journaling has helped give me get clarity in my thoughts and feelings. In times where I don’t know what direction I want to go in, writing it out has helped me identify what I need to do and where I need to be.
Journaling will not be a magic wand. No matter how many times you write your goals down or write about how you want to change a part of yourself, you will not change in only journaling by itself.
You must take action to change. Journaling may be the kindling you need but action is the fire starter. If you do not take action, your kindling will be at the mercy of nature and eventually not be useful.
I love journaling. I never plan to break my journaling habit. Depending on what your intentions are for journaling, I would recommend frequently looking back on entries that each month and look back at the whole year at the end of the year. This way you can see if there are any patterns that you are falling into.
Journaling has helped me identify the patterns that I have even if I haven’t broken them yet.
If you don’t have a journal I would highly recommend it, you can learn a lot about yourself over a short period of time and it is something that will stay with you forever.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Jan Kahánek on Unsplash