Note: This is a guest post by Kathi Ostrom Gowsell, a certified journal writing instructor and legacy facilitator, she believes there is a writer in all of us. She started Writing Life Matters to share her knowledge of journal writing as a tool to capture family legacy. If you’d like to read more, you can find her at Writing Life Matters
Everyone seems to be touting the benefits of keeping a journal these days. I’m glad. I’ve always believed the world would be a better place if more people picked up a favorite pen and wrote their hearts out on a regular basis.
… we become observers …
It’s through a dedicated journal practice that we become observers of life, both our own and that of others. We start on a small scale, creating inner awareness by looking at ourselves. Eventually, we observe on a larger scale by looking outward at the world. By doing both, we acknowledge the complexities of life. We begin to understand how we are all truly connected.
You may have heard of the butterfly effect. Simply stated, it’s the theory that any small action changes the course of life. It’s the belief that the single action, no matter how small, of one person, makes a difference to the state of many.
For example, take any item from your list of core values and commit to focus on it in your journal for a month. Let’s look at kindness.
- Make a collage that gives you a visual on kindness.
- Write a letter to kindness or a letter to yourself from kindness.
- Write a dialogue with kindness.
- List where kindness shows up in your life or list the ways you can show more of it.
Throughout the month, you might be surprised at how kindness has played a starring role in your life. You could see how writing about it affects your relationships and notice how the world around you suddenly seems more kind.
Once you focus on an idea in your journal, it tends to fill the space that surrounds you. You might wonder, “Would I have overlooked this moment of kindness if I hadn’t focused on it in my journal?”
… we become listeners …
Journal writing begins our inner journey – a journey to the self. Although we start as observers, we become listeners, too. In the quiet and reflective moments when we sit with ourselves, pen in hand, we ask questions and listen for answers. Slowly, we begin to hear our true voice emerge. And, once we hear it, there is no turning back.
After a while, questions like these begin to arise –
- How am I functioning in the world? Am I who I wish to be?
- Am I being honest about my feelings and in my actions?
- Do I spend my time in meaningful ways?
Then, when we start to focus outside of ourselves, to the bigger world, we ask –
- How can I make life better, not just for me but also for others?
- What part do I play in influencing the human condition?
- What actions am I taking to bring my authentic self and my gifts to the world?
Although these questions might seem overwhelming, the work doesn’t have to be. Ask and listen. Write what you hear. Start small with one step you can take today. Pick up your journal and pen and ask, “How did I do with kindness today?” Then keep returning to your journal to observe and listen some more, gradually scaling up to bigger questions.
… we become more aware …
As we progress in our journaling practice, we become more aware. We create the space needed to gaze within ourselves. We start to transform in small yet, significant ways and as we transform we start to affect the environment around us.
It can’t be helped. We do influence the world, one journal writer at a time.
Bryan Hutchinson is living proof that you can influence the world by committing to a regular journal writing habit. He has developed The Art of Positive Journaling to help others do what he has done – move forward in life with the help of pen and paper. Sign up, follow his lessons, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!