Friday, October 5, 2012

Why to write a journal

One of the things that I was inspired to do by Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project" that I wrote about earlier is start a new journal. A different kind of journal.  

I have to say I've always been into writing diaries, ever since I was in the 6th or 7th grade. I would describe my day, but mostly I would just write in there funny stories that happened at school that day. There was never any lack of funny stories in my classes. I am really glad I did that, it is so fun to read those diaries, the memories just rush back and it's the best feeling to relive those great moments!

When I got a bit older I remember hearing from someone that you should write about your feelings in the diary. So I started doing more of that. I would write how I felt about having a fight with my sister and how it hurt when she almost pulled my hair out, and I would write how mad I was at my friend for not sharing the school textbook with me and how I really liked  a boy and didn't think he liked me back. But now that I reread those entries sometimes I don't find them that fun.They are fun when some activities are described, like the activities leading up to the hair pulling with my sister. I actually had quite a few of those entries, and when I tell about them to my sister now, we always have a good laugh. But when I just described the feelings with no activities... I just find it boring to reread.

I actually was doing these "feelings thing" for a while as it turns out. I mean I still had my days described and funny and exciting things written about, but once in a while I'd run into the "feelings". I still did that when I was dating my now-husband, then-boyfriend MJ. When we'd have a fight, it would all "be documented" in my diary, but when I reread it now 5 or 6 years later, it just upsets me, so why would I want to reread and relive that? So I just skip those entries.

Of course I am not saying that it's better to write the diary one way or another, but I am just saying that for me it took a few years to realize what I should be writing in mine. Just describe things that happened. No hurt feeling. I know some people write about that to kind of "pour it out" to make themselves feel better, but did it work for me? Now that I think about it...hmm...not really. Because I would pour myself out to my mom. Or my sister. So really by the time I would get around the journal, it was more of a burden to write about and then having to relive those moments as I wrote them.

Same thing about happy feelings. I get a little mad at myself sometimes when I read an entry of this kind "I had such a great day! I am so happy! So many funny things happened!" Ummm ok... so what happened?? Why didn't I write what happened? I guess I thought I would remember. And sometimes I do, but more often than not I have absolutely no idea...

So years later it occurred to me that I should just describe remarkable things that happened. What I felt about them I could probably figure out just reading about what happened. And this is what I started doing with my journals.

But then, Allie was  born. And my journal writing activity just stopped. I didn't have any time or energy for that. What I did though, I started a new one just for Allie for when she is older. I actually started it when I was pregnant with her, and I would write her little messages in there: about the day she kicked for the first time, what song made her kick for the first (it was a song by Coldplay), about my doctor appointments and so on. When she was born I continued writing important events, such as first time she sat up, crawled, walked, said "mama", and those typical things you don't want to forget. I am SO HAPPY I've done that, because those things really seem impossible to forget, but if you ask me now when she smiled for the first time or when she said "mama", I remember those moments happening in every detail, but I have no idea how old she was. And Allie would probably be curious to know that. So for her I will have a full report in the form of that diary.

Allie's journal is great, but it doesn't include any Allie non-related stuff. And that's probably natural, because my life is now pretty much rotating around Allie. But I have things that happen at work, or with MJ or just some random things that I want to remember in the future, but I don't want to write them in Allie's journal, because then it just ruins the whole idea of the journal. This thought had lived in my head for a long time, but I had also known that I wouldn't have any time to write another journal. Until I read "The Happiness Project". The idea I found there solved the problem!

It basically says that if this is something that makes you happy, you should just simplify the whole idea of writing a journal. It can be any kind of journal, but the one that I loved was "What I am thankful for today". No need to describe it, since it is exactly what it sounds like.

I started a journal a couple months ago. It is on my nightstand. Every single night before I go to bed, I write in there just a couple sentences about what I am thankful for today.It can't be anything general, like " I am thankful that I am healthy", which of course I am thankful for, but this is not something I write in there. I write 1-2 things that happened today that made me happy or that I am thankful for. I LOVE IT! First of all, it  creates this little special notebook of only happy thoughts and positive memories. So when I read it, it will be very recharging. It will also help me remember those things. Even though I don't have the time to write the detailed description of certain events, I'll have a few "key words" that will bring the memories back. And the main thing, it just makes me pay attention to special happy moments in my day that I didn't necessarily notice before. For example, one evening MJ, Allie, Druzhok and I were all in Allie's room. Druzhok was chewing his bone, MJ was reading to Allie and I was putting away her laundry. Sounds like a nothing-special-moment, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't.  It just felt so special and intimate, I felt so happy in that moment and I thought "This is what I am going to write about tonight in my thankful journal". If I didn't have this journal I would probably just let that moment pass by. Having the journal makes me search for those moments and really pay attention to them. It's great!

We all have nothing-specials days or even just bad days, but I bet you can always find at least one good thing that happened to you that day. At least one. By the way, this is another benefit of having a child, even if nothing special happens and I have really nothing to write about, there is always something special or funny that Allie did that day! :)

Happy journaling! :)

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