Team Quadzilla aims to encourage a lifestyle of healthy living. To us, that means way more than 6-pack abs or plates full of kale and broccoli. We believe that healthy living requires positive, purposeful exercise for our mind, body, and soul. Some of the best healthy habits we can have require no sweat at all. The healthy habit I’m about to describe can be the catalyst for other healthy habits because “healthy living starts between your ears.”
If you follow Team Quadzilla on Facebook, you might recall that I have posted about my journaling habit. Whether I’m sharing something I wrote that I think will encourage you, or I need some help to pick the next book to fill, I’ve made it no secret that I enjoy writing in a journal. Following are some reasons why I journal along with some suggestions to help you get started if you don’t regularly write already.
Journaling is a key part of my morning routine
Mornings can be chaotic. There are so many things to do in a short amount of time. But just like you weren’t sure how you would get it all done, you do. Every day. You can do this too. That was my thought process when I first started. I make time for what is important to me, and journaling has proven to be worth my time. Now that journaling is my habit, it’s like eating breakfast or brushing my teeth; I notice if I miss it. My day can’t really start properly until I spend some time writing. Once I write, I feel calm, focused, and mentally prepared to deal with the day ahead.
Journaling helps me clarify my thinking, process my feelings, and make better decisions
Writing is therapeutic for me. And way cheaper than a counselor! I find that writing draws out thoughts and feelings I didn’t know I had. I think it’s the focused time to reflect and take a self-assessment. Since my mind races all day with work, and I’m busy with family stuff (or even vegging) in the evenings, I don’t otherwise have time to process life. Writing helps me do that. In my journals you would find many examples of me wrestling with something and landing on a much better decision than if I didn’t take the time to write it out.
Sometimes I’m feeling really down or upset and I just write all kinds of emotion. Usually after I vent for a bit, my writing turns much more positive and encouraging and I leave feeling so much better. There is something very powerful about writing feelings that just works.
Journaling captures my progress toward my goals
Writing goals is important. It makes them seem more real, and it makes me more accountable to them versus just having the idea of goals in my mind. My journal is a great place to report my progress and my failures in the journey toward my goals. These notes become valuable as the lessons learned are what drives me forward. I learn what works and what doesn’t. Writing makes it much harder for me to forget what I’ve learned.
Journaling focuses my prayers and keeps record of my blessings
My journal captures lots of things, but the primary theme is me talking to Jesus. That may seem strange to you, but I’m OK with that. If you are the praying type, you may have found it difficult to focus for more than a couple minutes. Distracting thoughts from out of nowhere come in to sabotage your time and it feels fruitless. Writing focuses my thoughts like nothing else I’ve tried. Pen to paper is key, as typing my journal didn’t have the same focusing affect. I write my prayers as if I’m writing Jesus a letter, or more like talking to him as if he’s right next to me. I give thanks and record my blessings. It’s great to read the entries after some time and see how blessed I am and how well the things turned out that I was so concerned about. I would never remember such things unless I wrote it down.
Journaling is my story; my legacy
The main personal, compelling reason WHY I write in my journal 5 days a week is because I want to record my personal story for others to read…someday. I figure that when I’m gone, my son and future generations behind him might find encouragement by reading the trials and triumphs of my life journey. Or they might think I was crazy! Either way, these volumes of my sloppy handwriting are part of my legacy. Want to know who I really was? You will find out in these books.
In the last few years my dad was alive, I would often ask him if he’d written his stories so we would all remember them. Most people don’t, so their stories get lost forever. My dad recorded some audio of his stories, which are precious for sure, but they can only capture a fraction of his life and heart. I hope people will be encouraged and maybe even get a laugh here and there while reading my story.
Just in case my reasons for journaling have inspired you to start the habit yourself, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
How to Journal
Keep it simple
Get a blank book and start writing. How’s that for simple? My first journals were spiral bound notebooks like we used in school. Now I prefer a more durable blank book that is meant for handwriting. None of mine have cost more than $10. As for the writing instrument, that’s surely a matter of personal preference. But I bet you have a favorite pen like I do. You know, the one you always go to when you need to write something down? The one you whine over when you can’t find it? Yeah, get more of those.
What you write in your journal is completely up to you. There is no wrong way to journal. Some sketch pictures in their books. Others reserve theirs for a particular theme like a weight loss journey, recording your kid’s firsts, a vacation journal, notes and insights you gather from a book you are reading, etc. Make your journal whatever you want it to be. You make up the rules. You are the boss! Go you!
Consider a template
OK, if you are the type of person that needs to know exactly what to do and exactly how to do it before starting something new, I suggest creating a template. Again, the template can be anything you want it to be, but the key is that you follow it each day you write. That way you don’t really have to think about what to write, you just answer the questions. Here’s one sample template from Michael Hyatt:
What happened yesterday? Just the highs, lows, and anything I want to remember later.
What were my biggest wins from yesterday? This gives me a sense of momentum to start the new day.
What lessons did I learn? It’s not what happens to us but what we learn from it that matters most.
What am I thankful for right now? This is one practical way I can cultivate a sense of abundance and gratitude.
How am I feeling right now? Feelings aren’t the be-all-end-all, but they’re a clue. In the past, I just ignored or suppressed them. This gives me an opportunity to check in on myself.
What did I read or hear? Here I list important books, articles, Bible passages, or podcasts I consumed since I last journaled.
What stood out? I don’t want to lose what I learn in my reading and listening, so I record key insights.
Adding a new activity to your busy schedule, especially in the morning, can feel overwhelming. While I recommend writing in the morning, you need to find the time that you can stick with consistently. Otherwise, journaling will frustrate you as the days and weeks pass between entries. Habit stacking is simply doing the new activity immediately after something else you already do every day. I write before I dig into my work. Once I start into the emails and phone calls, there is far less chance I will get back to writing, so I commit to writing before I start work. Since I only write on the weekdays, this works well for me. So choose something that you do every day and associate it with your new activity. Brush your teeth? “Ah yes, time to write in my journal.”
Journaling has become an important part of my healthy living journey and I highly recommend the practice to everyone. Remember that mental fitness is really important. “Healthy living starts between your ears,” right? Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.