“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”
“My thoughts exactly, Mr. Wilde,” I reply.
That was a moment when my muse bent a head over my shoulder and whispered, “Tell people how writing a diary can change their lives.”
And I’ve grabbed my pencil…
Many associate diaries with high-school years of ahs and sighs. Or, with Bridget Jones shooting out a scream of womanish problems to paper. We don’t think about practical benefits to get from journaling: clear minds, physical health, lower depression, and solved problems.
Writing a diary serves well for our personal growth, either.
What if I say you become smarter, creative, confident, self-disciplined, and emotionally intelligent if journaling? What if I say diaries evoke mindfulness and influence your happiness?
Keep on reading to check if it’s true and find out all the benefits you miss when refuse to write a diary.
So, it helps to…
1. Become Smarter
Writing enhances vocabulary and, according to the University of Victoria report, “has a positive correlation with intelligence.”
When telling stories to a diary, we have a natural urge to search different words for self-expression. We explore a language for synonyms, definitions, and concepts which make us learn their meanings, broaden the mind, and, as a consequence, become smarter.
It also explains the phenomenon of higher grades from students who keep diaries. “When writing about their thoughts, schoolers reflect on emotions and, thus, try to put them into shape,” says writing expert Nancy Christinovich from PlagiarismCheck. “Therefore, students train to research, give reason for their arguments, and create rather than plagiarize academic works from others.”
2. Stay Organized
Journaling keeps our thoughts comprehensible and organized. Writing practices such as mind mapping, to-do lists creation, or unsent letters can remind us of business we wanted to start, goals we planned to achieve, or places we dreamed to visit; they can motivate as well as guide us to a happier state of mind.
Going back to my annual to-do lists, I have a clear picture of where I failed and what I missed; so I can re-organize my attitude to what I do for more positive results.
3. Boost Memory
Thanks to a relationship between hands and brains, writing allows composing and re-composing ideas as well as strengthen our previously covered information to remember it.
But this trick works with handwriting only. So if you want to engage in a cognitive recall, write down your thoughts with pens and pencils, not keyboards.
4. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Some call it a theory of mind when we can “read” people’s thoughts and emotions; others address to the definition of emotional intelligence aka the ability to perceive/manage our emotions as well as those of other people.
Whatever called, we can develop this skill by writing. Journaling processes emotions, increases self-awareness, and builds a bridge of empathy for better intuition and understanding.
5. Achieve Goals
When writing a diary, we often share dreams and ambitions on paper. We give promises to start a new life, quit smoking, read more books, find a job… You name it!
The trick is, goals notation sends a signal to our brain: “Dude, it’s important!” A big fan of free writing, I use it to make to-do lists: when on paper, my plans have more chances to go live.
Sure thing, you won’t quit smoking or find a dream job simply because you write about it in a diary. But it helps to subconsciously start flagging tools and opportunities to achieve those goals.
6. Heal Yourself
Professor James Pennebaker, from the University of Texas in Austin, revealed all health benefits of writing: strong immune system, recovery from traumas and stresses, and better mental health. Journaling assists in dealing with emotional events and can be used as a therapeutic tool in psychiatric settings.
7. Evoke Mindfulness
Writing is meditative. It reminds of mistakes, accomplishments, and moments we want to remember. It helps to face fears: when in doubts or feeling lost, we make a diary our harbor to refresh memories, boost self-esteem, and engage with thoughts.
A strong connection between journaling and mindfulness is here. When writing, you leave past frustrations behind and clear your mind so that future anxieties disappear in the present moment.
8. Improve Communication Skills
Writing a diary can benefit our speaking because of critical connections between these two forms of communication.
Journaling thoughts, we train to express our ideas with words and then translate them into actual vocalization.
9. Strengthen Self-discipline
Let’s face it:
It’s challenging to push yourself to write every morning or evening. Once started, your diary risks going to oblivion: today you forget to take notes, tomorrow you are not in a mood for writing – and the time comes when you decide to give it up.
Writing is a matter of discipline. Like a muscle, it requires regular training for positive results. So, set time aside for journaling, develop a habit of everyday writing, and soon you’ll notice this discipline turns into other healthy habits of a happy person, read: you.
10. Become More Confident
When writing about positive experience, we allow the brain to relive it. And then, re-reading and reflecting on personal achievements or happy moments, we release endorphins and dopamine that boost self-esteem, confidence, and mood.
So next time when doubts appear, take your journal, look back over great moments you had, and reaffirm your abilities on a way to consciousness and wellness.
11. Spark Creativity
My favorite panacea for unlocking creativity and letting it flow is Julia Cameron’s morning pages technique: just write without thinking – and you’ll surprise how many thoughts and ideas live in your head! Even one page per day can take your creativity to a new level.
Regular writing helps us learn to brainstorm and communicate complex ideas, memorize information, and process it.
12. Stay Happy
Did you hear of the psychological effect named after aforementioned Bridget Jones?
It says that writing about feelings helps our brain regulate emotions, overcome upsets, and clear negative beliefs from life. It happens because a writing practice activates the brain part dampening down activity linked to strong emotional feelings.
In plain English, keeping a diary in abstract sense, writing down songs lyrics, or creating poems can help us deal with emotional distress and, therefore, become happier.
Do you have a diary? It’s high time to try it.
Start writing down details that happen to you, happy moments you remember, or things that make you grateful. It will give a different perspective and chance to see that life is bright.
“With free writing and mind mapping under the belt, don’t you think it’s time to start a personal diary?” the muse whispers from behind my shoulder.
… And I make a long arm for my purple notebook. Its sheets smell like a newly-published yet blank book, the one I am ready to fill with my personal story and emotions for happier life and better self.
What about you?