How to Keep a Journal
You have selected a very fine journal. You love looking at it. You have found just the right pen. You love doodling with it. But now the time has come. The journal is open, your pen is poised . . . . And you freeze! That stark white page is intimidating. You're not alone. Many others experience the same thing. Maybe we could say “most.” You have nothing to say. Or you have so much to say you don't know where to start. Either way, you're still sitting there staring at the blank page.
Let us help. We have no-fail ways that will get that pen to that piece of paper—that's the most important step, after all.
Keeping a gratitude journal is fairly popular these days. (Oprah has wholeheartedly endorsed it.) It's a great way to start. For one reason, we can never acknowledge the good people and things that come into our lives too much. For another, it's a simple way to start a journal. Five things. That's all. Write down five things you are grateful for. You can do that day after day. You may expand to seven, ten things. You may want to elaborate on those things. You can do whatever you want. It's your journal. Never lose sight of that. No rules, no musts. Here's the really great thing about a gratitude journal. As you become more aware of the wonderful gifts life has bestowed upon you, you feel better and radiate a more beneficent attitude, and you are more receptive to more gifts that come your way, and you have more things to be grateful for. All this for writing down five things a day!
You might get the journal started by using it to collect quotations that are meaningful to you. Or songs. Books. Movies.
Write down five times in your life that you were happy. We revisit the sad times much too often—any number of triggers can bring the memories rushing back. Happy times do not so readily pop into our minds. Dig them out of the back closet of your mind. Don't rely on times you were wildly happy, euphoric, ecstatic. You may have had a happy moment yesterday. Your car passed inspection. The dress you've wanted went on sale. You found the perfect journal! Besides getting you started with your journal, this exercise allows you to see more of a balance in your life. And similar to gratitude, the more happiness you think of, the more you will experience.
Here's a fun one: Write as someone else. Maybe you're not ready to get that personal with your journal. You haven't known each other long enough yet. Have someone else tell your journal about you. Someone you know, a character in a book or movie, anyone whose voice comes to you. Or, you can tell your own story from a bird's-eye view. Write in the third person. You as the narrator are telling the journal about this person you know—you.
You may find your own favorite way to start writing in your journal. Whatever works for you. What's that saying? “The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”? Your journey will begin with one sentence.