[This series of posts called “Journaling for Men” is designed to help everyone, and especially men who may be unfamiliar with journaling, learn how daily journaling can help them improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It brings together ideas from two of my recent books, Redesign Your Mind, in which I describe how you can upgrade and redesign “the room that is your mind,” and my most recent book The Great Book of Journaling, co-edited with Lynda Monk, in which we gathered contributions from scores of journal experts and enthusiasts. Please enjoy this series. I hope that you’ll begin to include journaling as part of your daily self-awareness and self-care program.]
The journaling you do is primarily for you. It is a way for you to express your thoughts and feelings and maintain self-awareness. But your journals may also prove a significant part of your legacy. In her chapter for The Great Book of Journaling on legacy journaling, Merle Saferstein describes how legacy journaling might serve you. Merle explained:
Unlike the journaling we do for ourselves, legacy journaling is written for the benefit of others. A legacy journal can be a record of one’s spiritual values, life lessons, messages from the heart, reflections and more. Legacy journaling provides the beneficiary with insight into someone else’s thoughts and feelings. It serves as a first-person account of one’s journey and contains a peek into one’s soul and life. It is possible that a journal we write for ourselves might eventually morph into a legacy journal.
The idea to create a legacy journal first came to me about twenty years ago, when I began to rethink what to do with my collection of then 350 journals. Prior to that, I was convinced I would leave these volumes to my children. However, as time passed, it became clear to me that I was writing for myself. In every volume, there was something I would never want anyone in my life to see. That’s when I knew it would be a mistake to leave my journals to my children, as it could have possible negative consequences that I would never intend.
Yet, I wanted to leave a written legacy for my loved ones and future generations. With that in mind, I undertook a project of great magnitude—understanding that by doing this, I would be sharing the essence of who I am as well as my life’s journey.
Imagine my collection of journals as a tapestry. Initially, I identified approximately seventy topics which encompass the individual threads of my life. I have untangled them, so each subject is as a single strand apart from the rest. To look at marriage or parenting or any of the other subjects by themselves, without anything else encumbering them, gives me a microscopic, uninterrupted view of each of these threads and aspects of my life.
The process of my legacy writing involved reading each journal carefully and deciding which excerpts I wanted to share. I marked them with sticky notes. Once I completed an entire volume, I entered those selected excerpts into the computer according to the individual topics.
Different forms of legacy journaling
Journal entries might be used with the following legacy projects and can be considered different forms of legacy journaling.
Legacy love letters: Commemorate special occasions such as graduations, birthdays, weddings, religious rites of passage, and other special days with a legacy love letter. Share important sentiments, memories, wishes, stories, and values in a memorable and loving way. By doing so, you honor the individual.
Ethical wills: An ethical will, which links people to their future generations, is a spiritual document—the essence of one’s life lessons, values and beliefs, hopes and dreams. It addresses people’s universal needs to be remembered, to know that they matter, and to pass along messages for future generations. The ethical will, which is to be read as a hopeful, positive piece, is intended to be written for future generations to learn from and cherish.
Journals: Write a journal specifically for someone. For example, one might begin a journal when a grandchild is born and continue writing in it for that grandchild throughout his/her life.
Memoirs and autobiographies: Writing about one’s life as a memoir or an autobiography is a way to share our personal story.
Above all else, a legacy journal in any form is a gift to the person who writes it as well as a gift to those who are fortunate enough to receive it.
If you haven’t considered legacy journaling before, you might like to consider it now? Is it time for some legacy journaling?
Get your copy of The Great Book of Journaling now!