I still come across people who think that diaries are for teenagers rambling about their troubles, mostly revolving around their great (but also miserable) times with friends, innocent first loves, searching for their identities and place in the world. The misconception isn’t helped by the fact that these diaries usually come in the neatly, and most importantly, pinkly packed notepads with cute kittens or girls in hand covers.
What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing in particular, as long as it’s not an exclusive representation of the general notion of journaling.
Taking notes, or ‘journal-noting’, is also not reserved for professional writers. It has been, and still is, practiced by people from all walks of life, who use this method to remember ideas, push through their thoughts or keep it as a filling tank of their life to which they can later return for safe recollections of the past.
And while my own journaling has always been a bit chaotic and more philosophical and confusing than orderly, by avidly reading published journals by others, I’ve come to realize the huge benefits of this activity for which I’m forever grateful.
Journals As a Thought Expression
Free writing leads to the eventual untangling of your thoughts, and the results can be surprising. Journaling is an extraordinary process that gives birth to your internal jumbled considerations. Kept inside, these interwoven opinions, beliefs and emotions can create confusion; whereas once in the light of day, they take on a different form and make it easier for you to plough through and get to the bottom of things. Untangled thoughts lead to a clear-thinking mind.
If you’re ever going through an especially confusing and difficult period, I’m confident that intensive journaling can be of great help. Understanding your own feelings is crucial and definitely more important than any advice you may be given.
Journals Are Time-Machines
Imagine being able to relive your past experiences. Journals do just that – they transport you back in time and by being emotional tanks, it’s easy to feel the same atmosphere, visualize past events, and revive related feelings. The emotional experience may depend on your respective writing investment, although occasionally a single paragraph can recreate a rich memory.
Journals Are Human Studies
Journals are private; needless to say, reading other people’s journals is a peek into their privacy. Each one is a human study; its glimpses into individual private minds and thoughts are a valuable resource for anyone interested in how we think, how we feel, differences and similarities, emotional triggers, and what drives us to behave as we do under specific circumstances.
It’s difficult to lie in a journal; perhaps because of the intimacy it entails, honesty is required. Being dishonest in a journal is like telling a lie to yourself in a mirror. And this honesty makes journals all the more attractive and personal.
It often happens that people’s journals serve as a historical document, capturing the zeitgeist of the time, and are the most valuable resource to anthropologists. Wouldn’t the world have been poorer without the Diary of Anne Frank?
There’s certainly magic in the intimate marking of thoughts at the end of the day on pen and paper for those who’re willing to see it.
Have you found the power of journaling? What is the value it brought to your life?