If you speak to top performers the world over you’ll find quite a few common themes.
One that is often overlooked however, is that a lot of them keep some form of a journal. In fact, the long list of successful people that have done so is impressive to say the least.
Arnold Schwarzenegger kept a journal to log his bodybuilding goals.
Benjamin Franklin his scientific theories.
Jane Austen wrote down her ideas for characters and novels.
Che Guevara documented his travels.
Ralph Waldo Emerson his philosophies.
It’s pretty clear that this isn’t just a coincidence. If you look at the research, you’ll see that the benefits of journaling speak volumes.
Here are 7 reasons keeping a journal is likely to make you more happy and successful.
- You become more focused and organized
If you ask any super successful person, they’ll pretty much all agree on this; what gets tracked gets improved.
The reality is that people who keep journals are more likely to track their successes and failures. Whether it’s through a food journal, monitoring their exercise, or just a consistent reflection on how they are feeling, writing regularly will help you to become more focused and organized in your day to day life.
- Your thoughts are more clear
Our minds can be tricky and confusing places.
We often have thoughts that bounce around as images, sounds and feelings for days, weeks, sometimes even years. But the problem is that we don’t spend enough time trying to put words to them.
Journaling helps capture these ideas, giving labels to these mental movies, and making them a lot clearer in your mind’s eye.
Another benefits is that by doing so you’ll naturally become more articulate and better at communicating your ideas to others.
- You will have less stress
People who journal regularly report having less stress. It’s obviously a very therapeutic process – and a lot cheaper than finding an actual therapist.
Another interesting point is that the impact of stress on our mental and physical health depends on the way we view stress. And journaling has been shown to improve our ability to see the positives of traumatic events and therefore mediate the impact that stress has on us.
- It will improve your creativity
Any form of creative or reflective writing can improve our creativity. Regular journaling can also improve our ability to take in and process information.
While you are writing, you are using your left brain, which is the rational and analytical part of your mind.
This removes mental blocks in the right brain – the artistic part – and allows you to release your creativity, so you can see your problems and projects in a new light.
- You’ll develop a better memory
By journaling about events and periodically returning to read your entries, you are able to turn short term memories into long term ones.
Memories typically fade with time, and are actually quite flimsy and inaccurate. The practice of retaining and retrieving them in detail for your journal will strengthen the memory muscles in your brain and allow you to keep them more accurate over time.
- It can help you improve your self-esteem
In order to project us, our brains have an inherent negativity bias. Unfortunately this doesn’t help when we are feeling down on ourselves, as it means we are more likely to forget our successes and remember our failures.
Keeping a journal where you track all the great things you have done can balance this bias and remind you that even when it doesn’t feel like it, you’ve actually come a long way and achieved a lot.
- You’ll become more emotionally intelligent
Emotional intelligence is a skill that is cultivated over time. By reflecting on your own emotions, you not only become psychologically healthier, but you become more aware of what your feelings are and what they might be telling you.
In our busy modern lives this can often be difficult. Journaling improves your ability to know yourself and in turn relate to others.
Like meditation, journaling can be approached differently to fit your personality and specific goals.
If you want to be happy and successful, this is obviously a key ingredient.
Get started today and see the benefits of benefits of journaling for yourself.
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Ben is a freelance writer, and the co-creator of Project Monkey Mind—a new blog for the 21st century solopreneur and young professional who wants to take control of their minds, smash through their limitations, and lead a life worth living.