Good, Bad, or Ugly - we're all on a Journey throughout this thing called life.

A Journey - according to the Oxford language dictionary, is the act of traveling from one place to another. 

Our lives are, in a very real sense, journeys.

We begin as frail, soft, cuddly, cute and much-anticipated mini-humans - full of need and emotion, desire, and demand. The older we get, the more likely we are to develop the power and agency to take care of our own needs and fulfill our own demands, but how?

We don't arrive on this world ready to fend for ourselves, right? The events of our lives probably fade from our memories quickly because there is SO much to learn. 

Some of us will remember taking our first independent steps - especially if our loved ones that witnessed them made a fuss about it. Later on, those steps are taken for granted, and we learn that sometimes we're not moving fast enough. "Come on, will ya?"

Other times, we're moving too fast: "Come back here!"

Despite how the passage of time might feel to us, your lives pass by in the blink of an eye. We start out with youthful exuberance - running, jumping, and playing with grace and strength that seems to expand and deepen by the day.

As more of life happens and we live through it, those graceful leaps and bounds get a little slower, a little less graceful, and may even be accompanied by snapping joints and aches in places we'd rather not have them.

Once those lovely early days are gone, they're gone...right? You can let your life's events pass by like a slideshow in your mind, or you can record those experiences in a journal. Not only will it help you to remember and relive the events of your life, but it will also make you a better you.

Write in a Journal Now, Have Fond (and Important) Memories Later

Your personal journal can serve as a record of your life - from the beginning until the end, and all of the in-between. Our beautiful human lives are filled with precious. tiny things that help to shape who we are and who we become.

Writing about these experiences in a journal will allow you to look back on them and see how they changed you - for the better, or the challenges that created the scars you now bear. Your journal can highlight your decision-making process as you found your way through the twists and turns of your life's road. The strokes and turns you navigated through the rapids and the rocky waters, and what affected your decisions.

You can share this information with your loved ones if you wish, but even if you don't, your past self can provide meaningful advice and the perfect go-to advisor for your future self and others. 

Process, Experience, and Move Forward

The act and ritual of journaling empowers you with an opportunity to process your emotions. You can't move past them if you haven't fully experienced them, and in the heat of the moment, it's hard to remember that.

If you lose someone, journaling provides a way to get that range of emotions off your chest and out of your mind and heart. Even if you never had the chance to tell them in person, expressing yourself helps you to release the negatives and bask in the positive.

My journal was immensely helpful when I lost my Dad at age 9 to a stroke. He was my hero, invincible and strong - nothing could take my Daddy down. After the night he left us, I poured out my heart into my diary, a child's version of a journal. Everything I felt - the love for him. the loss, and my finding the strength to keep moving on was written in those pages.

For you, it might be missing out on a new job or a promotion, a lost love, or an argument with a best friend that drives you to the pages. It truly is better to express yourself with ink and paper and not shut the feelings down inside your heart and soul.

Allowing negative emotions to sit and fester will have a long-term knock-out effect on your happiness and your physical health. Unexpressed emotions can deepen and strengthen until they explode out of you like lava out of a volcano.

Once you've written it down, you don't have to keep it forever. Process your emotions, experience them completely, and then move forward - which might mean tearing up the pages or tossing them into the fireplace. The healing in present in the releasing.

Journal about Your Successes and Your Challenges

Toot your own horn!

Don't be shy about celebrating your successes - the big ones and the small ones! Your journal is a great place to document the highs - how you started, how it continued, and how it's going. On days when nothing seems to be going right, take a look back at your successes and remind yourself of how talented and powerful you truly are.

No one is more critical of US than we are of ourselves. We say things to ourselves internally that we'd never accept from anyone else. Keep those reminders of your successes as fuel to help you keep going, especially when things don't quite go your way.

You should also journal your challenges and your failures in order to understand them. Being able to analyze a challenge - something that caused you difficulty - can help you avoid a similar challenge in the future. 

Taking time to journal about your failures helps you to know where it all went wrong, and how to prevent an identical failure in the future. Your ability to look back and learn from what happened helps you bounce back. Extending and expanding your resilience is a valuable quality for the future, and you'll become a better version of yourself in the process.

It's okay to admit you can and do make mistakes. We're human - perfectly imperfectly so - and we can't be 100% awesome all the time. Understanding and accepting that about yourself will help you stay grounded and realistic. You'll be more likely to cut yourself some slack if you've accepted that perfection is not your normal daily condition.

Giving yourself permission to struggle, and yes, even to fail also empowers you to know that you don't have to judge yourself. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give it another go.

Starting and maintaining a journal is simple - don't overcomplicate it in the beginning. You can type your journal on a computer or tablet, dictate it into the Notes application on your phone, or invest in a leather-bound journal with a super-fancy pen. 

You can create audio entries or video ones - it's all up to you. The simplest way to get started is with paper and pen - and provide a way to keep your pages secure and together in case you decide to share it with others in the future.

In a perfect world, you'll have time to write in your journal daily - but don't let that ideal be a reason to beat yourself up. Every other day, every couple of days, or every morning and night - the schedule is up to you. Whatever schedule you choose, try to maintain it for 21 to 30 days to establish the habit, and then adjust as you gain experience.

You might be uncertain about sharing your deepest feelings in your journal if you think too much about how others will feel once they read it - no one else needs to. Keep your observations and feelings private. Don't think about others reading your entries - it may prevent you from expressing yourself fully and honestly.

Put your journal under lock and key if that will help you feel more open about the process and your entries - if you want to share it at a later time, you can share an edited version or a condensed version.

You're the only one who needs to see your full, unadulterated version of events and experiences in your life. Your journal is truly for you and no one else, and that alone is enough reason to start and establish a journaling habit.

About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels empowers women 35+ to create their Best Life with the Power of Affirmations & Journaling. You can learn how to use proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family), and proudly serves her community as a Registrar of Voters.

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