Gandhi proclaimed that happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are all in harmony. The most accessible theme we have at our fingertips to synergize these three aspects of self is an ancient tradition dating back to the 10th Century of Japan: a piece of paper and a pen.
The ritual of journaling when practiced frequently and regularly is a beautiful and powerful facilitator of self-discovery. It can truly formalize a sense of identity and pathway in life. The practice is ideal when there is a daily, 20-minute commitment to free the brain from “shoulds” and allow a time for words to permeate paper. By allowing these moments to forget spelling, punctuation and a purging of the soul, one can build forgiveness, resolve disagreements, improve communication skills, build self-confidence and come to terms with stressful events.
Malcom Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, expressed the need to spend approximately 10,000 hours on subjects to become a world class writer. We can start this commitment towards world class personal exploration by journaling as a start to our day. Many of us awaken and immediately check our phone for email, newsfeed, social media and many other activities guided by others’ agendas. Making a commitment to journaling creates an act of personal empowerment. In our youth it is common to write thoughts and secrets into a diary. For many of us this diary went by the wayside, and as adults our life became ruled by “busyness,” approaching life in subconscious mode. Journaling helps us stay conscious.
If the thought of commencing the process of journaling leaves you feeling uncertain, start with answering a few questions to expose real feelings and then create a space to analyze them.
- Reflect on one of the greatest life lessons you’ve ever learned. What was it and what did you learn? Perhaps you’ve forgotten what you learned – how could you incorporate those learnings into the way you live today?
- Write a list of 10 things you are grateful for today.
Studies show that the mere act of writing down thoughts of gratitude leads to heightened levels of happiness. A journal can be many things. It can be doodles, mind maps, words or lists. One sentence each day of a moment of appreciation is enough to create a breakthrough of clarity. There is always discipline involved. Yet when we open ourselves to the experience with time for daily journaling, it will spill into other areas of life and changes will occur. Momentum will manifest itself. In essence, each time we write our thoughts, or an innermost rumination, we are placing pieces of a puzzle into our mind and formulating a picture.
Emily Dickinson wrote, “The soul should always stand ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” We all possess a myriad of hopes, dreams, fears, and creativities waiting to be captured and harnessed. The first step is to open the soul and welcome this experience of self-discovery.