An inspiring article

“I dare say that journaling is one of the most important things to do in your life. If done effectively, it will change everything in your life for the better.”

Every time I come upon someone who ‘gets it’ about the power of journaling, it makes my heart dance.  I absolutely had to share this article, by Benjamin Hardy, with you.

Whether you have always wanted to journal, but couldn’t find the time, have been simply curious about jounaling, or if you are already an avid journaler – this article will be a terrific read for you; well worth your time!

Happy Inklings!!
Jill

Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life
By |

(Photo: Bev Sykes/Flickr)

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” ―J.M. Barrie (Author of Peter Pan)

You know exactly what you want in life. But you can’t seem to get there. You have all these resolves.

You’re going to get healthy.

You’re going to write that book.

You’re going to be more present with your loved ones.

You’re going to start that home-based business.

You’re going to learn another language.

You’re going to be more patient and happy.

You’re going to get out of debt.

You’re going to be more organized.

You’re going to be a better friend.

You’re going to overcome bad habits.

But the problem is: Doing these is really hard. And it gets harder every day. Some days, it seems more realistic to just give up entirely. The whole taking one step forward and one or two steps backward pattern is getting old.

You’ve been telling yourself for a long time “Today is the day!” only to fall into old ways before the day, or if you’re lucky, the week, is spent.

When there’s a gap between who you are and who you intend to be, you are incongruent and unhappy. You’re torn, mentally exhausted, and regretful. You always slightly feel like a fraud to yourself, and probably to the people around you.

Conversely, Gandhi has said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

The Need For A Powerfully Transformative Keystone Habit
If you try to tackle everything wrong in your life, you’ll quickly burn-out and quit. It’s happened many times before.

Life is super busy. You don’t have time to focus on a thousand different areas of your life to change. That’s exhausting, and frankly, not helpful.

More effective than microscopically analyzing your sabotaging behaviors, is nailing down a “keystone” habit—which tightly locks all of your other habits in place. Without the keystone, everything falls apart.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes keystone habits as,“small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”

A person might start exercising once per week, and unknowing begins eating better and being more productive at work. She begins smoking less and showing more patience with her colleagues and loved ones. She uses her credit card less, feels less stressed, and has increased motivation toward her goals. The ingrained patterns in her brain reform and she becomes an entirely different person. All because she started exercising once per week.

You acquire one of these habits and everything in your life can change. Keystone habits spark a chain reaction of other good habits and can rapidly alter every aspect of your life.

Journal Every Day
Journaling daily is the most potent and powerful keystone habit you can acquire. If done correctly, you will show up better in every area of your life—every area! Without question, journaling has by far been the number one factor to everything I’ve done well in my life.

The problem is, most people have tried and failed at journaling several times. It’s something you know you should do, but can never seem to pin down.

After you read this post, you’ll never want to miss another day of journaling again.

Here’s why:

  1. Journaling Optimizes Your Creative Potential

Most people live their lives on other people’s terms. Their days are spent achieving other people’s goals and submitting to other people’s agendas.

Their lives have not been consciously organized in such a way that they command every waking, and sleeping, moment of their life. Instead, they relentlessly react at every chance they get.

For example, most people wake up and immediately check their phone or email. In spare seconds, we hop on Facebook and check the newsfeed. We’ve become addicted to input. Or in other words, we’ve become addicted to reactively being guided by other people’s agendas.

On the other hand, Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, wakes up and immediately writes in his journal for 30 minutes.

He does this because while he’s been sleeping, his subconscious mind has been brewing, scheming, problem-solving, and learning. So when Josh wakes up, he rushes to a quiet place and engages in a bust of intellectual and creative flow.

I recently wrote about the importance of morning routines. If I were to re-write that post now, I’d include my journal. I’ve been doing this the past few weeks and its reframed my entire approach to life. Additionally, I’ve never before had so many creative ideas crystalize.

Creators focus on outputs rather than the general populace who focus on inputs. In their free moments, creators utilize their subconscious breakthroughs. Their days are filled with creative bursts, making them incredible at their craft.

If you want to have more creative flow in your life, stop checking your social media and email so much. Check them once or twice per day. Detach from the addiction to numb your mind and escape reality. Instead, get lost in the creative projects you’ve always wanted to do.

  1. Journaling Accelerates Your Ability To Manifest Your Goals

As part of your morning creative burst, use your journal to review and hone your daily to-do list. Review and hone your life vision and big picture goals.

As you read and re-write your goals daily, they’ll become forged into your subconscious mind. Eventually, your dreams and vision will consume your inner world and quickly become your physical reality.

  1. Journaling Creates A Springboard For Daily Recovery

People struggle drastically to detach from work. More now than ever, we fail to live presently. Our loved ones are lucky to experience a small percentage of our attention while they’re with us.

However, utilizing your journal can curb this mismanagement. At the end of your work day, re-open your journal and review your to-do list from that day. If your morning journal session was excellent, you’ll have likely gotten everything done you intended to do. Private victories always precede public victories.

Journal sessions are your post-work reflection time. Account to yourself what you got done that day and what needs to be moved to tomorrow. Write the things you learned and experienced.

Lastly, direct your subconscious by writing about things you want to focus on tomorrow. As you put work behind you for the evening, your subconscious will be preparing a feast for you to consume during your next morning’s creative and planning session.

This end of the workday journal session need not be as long as the morning session. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, recommends writing far less than you want to—only a few sentences or paragraphs at most. This will help you avoid burnout.

A primary objective of this session is to mentally turn-off work-mode. Just as in physical training, you need to rest and recover between work days in order to get stronger.

Use this session to completely unplug and detach from work. This is your time to recover and be present with your loved ones—there is more to life than work. The higher quality your recovery, the more potent and powerful your creative sessions will be.

  1. Journaling Generates Clarity And Congruence

This keystone habit has so much power! By journaling in the morning and evening, you’ll quickly see the incongruencies in your life.

You’ll see crystal-clearly what needs to be removed and what should be included in your life. Journaling is a beautiful and powerful facilitator of self-discovery. My own journaling is how I’ve come to form my sense of identity and path in life.

Not only will you have more clarity about your path in life, but journaling improves your ability to make small and large decisions along the way.

On the pages of your journal will be the future world you are creating for yourself. You are the author of your life’s story. You deserve to be happy. You have the power to create whatever life you want. As the designer of your world, get as detailed as you desire.

  1. Journaling Clears Your Emotions

Several research studies have found that writing in your journal reduces stress. These benefits include:

  • Reducing scatter in your life
  • Increased focus
  • Greater stability
  • Deeper level of learning, order, action, and release
  • Holding thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated
  • Releasing pent-up thoughts and emotions
  • Empowerment
  • Bridging inner thinking with outer events
  • Detaching and letting go of the past
  • Allowing you to re-experience the past with today’s adult mind

When you are in an intensely emotional mood, journaling can help you more fully experience and understand those emotions.

After you’ve vented on the pages of your journal, you’ll quickly find a release. Objectivity will return and you’ll be able to move forward.

Without a journal, intense emotional experiences can be crippling for hours, days, and even years. However, an honest and inspired journal session can be the best form of therapy—quickly returning you better and smarter than you were before.

  1. Journaling Engrains Your Learning

Humans are bad at retaining information. We forget most of what we read and hear. However, when you write down the things you’ve learned, you retain them far better. Even if you never re-read what you’ve written, the simple act of writing something down increases brain development and memory.

Neurologically, when you listen to something, a different part of your brain is engaged than when you write it down. Memory recorded by listening does not discriminate important from non-important information. However, writing creates spatial regions between important and non-important pieces of information—allowing your memory to target and engrain the important stuff you want to remember.

Furthermore, the act of writing allows your subconscious mind to work out problems in unique ways, intensifying the learning process. You’ll be able to work out problems and get insights while you ponder and write about the things you’re learning.

  1. Journaling Increases Your Gratitude

Even if you start a journal session in a bad mood, the insight writing brings has a subtle way of shifting your mind towards gratitude.

When you start writing what you’re grateful for, new chambers of thought open in the palace of your mind. You’ll often need to put your pen down and take a few overwhelming breathes. You’ll be captivated not only by the amazing things in your life, but by the awe and brilliance of life.

As part of your morning and post-work journaling sessions, be sure to include some gratitude in your writing. It will change your entire life orientation from scarcity to abundance. The world will increasingly become your oyster.

Gratitude journaling is a scientifically proven way to overcome several psychological challenges. The benefits are seemingly endless. Here are just a few:

  • Gratitude makes you happier
  • Gratitude makes other people like you
  • Gratitude makes you healthier
  • Gratitude boosts your career
  • Gratitude strengthens your emotions
  • Gratitude develops your personality
  • Gratitude makes you more optimistic
  • Gratitude reduces materialism
  • Gratitude increases spirituality
  • Gratitude makes you less self-centered
  • Gratitude increases your self-esteem
  • Gratitude improves your sleep
  • Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor by strengthening physiological functioning
  • Gratitude lets you live longer
  • Gratitude increases your energy levels
  • Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise
  • Gratitude helps you bounce back from challenges
  • Gratitude makes you feel good
  • Gratitude makes your memories happier (think of Pixar’s Inside Out)
  • Gratitude reduces feelings of envy
  • Gratitude helps you relax
  • Gratitude makes you friendlier
  • Gratitude helps your marriage
  • Gratitude makes you look good
  • Gratitude deepens your friendships
  • Gratitude makes you a more effective manager
  • Gratitude helps you network
  • Gratitude increases your goal achievement
  • Gratitude improves your decision making
  • Gratitude increases your productivity
  1. Journaling Unfolds The Writer In You

I became a writer through journaling. While I was on a mission-trip, I wrote in my journal for one to two hours per day. I got lost in flow and fell in love with the writing process.

If you want to become a writer one day, start by journaling. Journaling can help you:

  • Develop strong writing habits
  • Help you discover your voice!
  • Clear your mind and crystallizes your ideas
  • Get closer to the 10,000 hours Malcom Gladwell says are required to become world-class at what you do
  • Produce gems you could use in your other writing
  1. Journaling Records Your Life History

I started journaling in 2008 after reading an article about the importance of journal writing. In the article, the author described how much journaling had changed her life. She said that after all these years, she now has 38 recorded volumes of personal and family history.

After finishing that article, I have never stopped writing in my journal. In my family room on a book shelf are 20-plus journals filled with my thoughts and experiences. I’m certain they will be cherished by my ancestors as I’ve cherished the writing of my loved ones who have passed on.

  1. 19 Other Benefits Of Journaling

Some other benefits of journaling include:

  • Heals relationships
  • Heals the past
  • Dignifies all events
  • Is honest, trusting, non-judgmental
  • Strengthens your sense of yourself
  • Balances and harmonizes
  • Recalls and reconstructs past events
  • Acts as your own counselor
  • Integrates peaks and valleys in life
  • Soothes troubled memories
  • Sees yourself as a larger, important, whole and connected being
  • Reveals and tracks patterns and cycles
  • Improves self-trust
  • Directs intention and discernment
  • Improves sensitivity
  • Interprets your symbols and dreams
  • Offers new perspectives
  • Brings things together
  • Shows relationships and wholeness instead of separation
Strategies To Enhance The Experience
  • Pray for inspiration before you begin
  • If prayer is not your thing, meditate for 5-10 minutes to heighten your mental state
  • Listen to music (I listen to either classical or dub-step depending on the output I’m trying to get)
  • Write about the people in your life – you’ll get breakthroughs about how to improve those relationships
  • Write with confidence and power – use this to strengthen your resolves
  • Write “Today is going to be the best day of my life.” – read that over and over until you begin to believe it
  • If you can’t think of what to write, try writing about minute details of your day or recent history
  • Or start with gratitude
  • There are no rules
  • Figure out the system that works for you – it takes time

Conclusion

I dare say that journaling is one of the most important things to do in your life. If done effectively, it will change everything in your life for the better.

You’ll become the person you want to be.

You’ll design the life you want to live.

Your relationships will be healthier and happier.

You’ll be more productive and powerful.

Enjoy.

Benjamin Hardy is the foster parent of three children and the author of Slipstream Time Hacking. He’s pursuing his Ph.D. in organizational psychology. To learn more about Mr. Hardy, visit www.benjaminhardy.com or connect with him on Twitter.

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Posted in Balance, Compassion, Easier Life, Happiness, Healing, Holistic, Inner Voice, Inspiration, Journal Writing, Personal Growth, Self-discover, Wellness, Why journal write? | Tagged , , , ,

Journaling heals us all

creative-writing-reflective-journaling“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to
sit quietly in a room alone.”
– Blaise Pascal

Just another reason spending time alone with your journal helps heal not only you, but the world.

Spend some alone time with your journal today, for you and for all of us.

Posted in Journal Writing

7 reasons why you should write down your favourite memories now

Article by Michael McQueen
MAY 01, 2015

I learned the memories_fading_away_by_souromar-d4ei7mntrue significance of written memories when I was 22 years old when my father died suddenly and unexpectedly. Within the space of a few hours, I went from talking to Dad over the phone to being told by doctors he’d suffered an unexpected heart attack; and with that, my closest friend was gone forever.

In the days that followed Dad’s death, my family embarked on the heart-breaking task of sifting through tokens of his life and we came across a well-worn notebook. I had forgotten that I’d given him this for Father’s Day the previous year.

This notebook contained a number of questions that I’d written, in the hope that Dad’s answers would create a more complete picture of his life and experiences than I knew of so far. They were the kinds of questions that simply never came up in conversation.

Upon reading what my father had written I found myself enthralled and captivated by his answers, realising how much I didn’t know about him and his life. I was struck by the things that were important to him but were unspoken, and by how much we had in common. I subsequently used my network as a professional speaker to talk to young people about my father’s notebook and found that they were genuinely searching for a meaningful connection with their family heritage, and from this, Histography.com was born.

Histography.com is an online memory box that leads you through a series of thought-provoking questions designed to unearth the most interesting, unique and momentous aspects of your personality and life’s experience. These questions can be answered at your own pace, illustrated with uploaded photographs and, when you’re ready, can be printed as a beautiful hard-cover book (as one or multiple copies).

Today, my mission to inspire other parents around the world to write down their own stories, just as I discovered my father had. These are my 7 reasons why you should write down your favourite memories right now:

  1. Because your kids might never find out. The regret of not asking a loved one something while you had the chance is a painful one, and it can last a lifetime. Do your children, and your grandchildren, a big favour and record your story for them. The value of your words in years to come can’t be described.
  2. Because it’s inevitable that you’ll forget.As the years pass by, memories from our childhood become ghostlike, we forget more and more, and often we don’t remember a particular memory until someone else brings it up. Don’t ever forget how fragile, and incredibly precious, your memories really are.
  3. Because your memory plays tricks on you. There is such a thing as “false memory”. Researchers are starting to understand that the human mind can create, exaggerate, distort and even re-invent a memory. Have you ever been describing a childhood memory and your sibling pipes up, “That’s not what happened?!” As they correct you, a much clearer picture of the memory returns and you wonder how you ever created a ‘fake’ memory. Our brains are hardwired to ‘fill in the blanks’, so when we don’t remember the whole lot, our brain will trick us into thinking we do!
  4. Because storytelling actually strengthens your memory. When we write things down we tend to have an easier time remembering them and recalling the information more precisely. The more things you can tie together into a narrative, the more easily you’ll be able to recall those things later on. Think of it as studying for a test and taking valuable notes!
  5. Because you’ll learn a thing or two. The scientific research into the health benefits of expressive writing is surprisingly far-reaching. Writing down the moments you remember – the things that were important to you – provides you with unbelievable insight into the kind of person that you were, who you are today and who you want to become in the future. Some researchers even believe that by recording and then editing our own stories can lead to behavioural changes and improve happiness.
  6. Because it only takes a few minutes. Writing your story doesn’t have to be a time consuming chore. Memoir writing programs such as Histography.com provide the platform to write your story in a way that easy and time efficient.
  7. Because it’ll change your life. Imagine if you had written down a nice memory a day for the past year. That would be equal to 365 memories. Now in this moment try to think of even 10 lovely memories in the past year. What about 50?

Unfortunately bad memories stay with us for much longer – the car breaking down, the heated conversation, the funeral. By recording the good times in your life you will not only make sure you don’t lose these memories, but you’ll be choosing to live a life filled with happy memories that you can look to when life gets tough.

Posted in Holistic, Ideas for journal writing, Inspiration, Journal Writing, Journaling, Memoires, Why journal write?, Writing, Writing Prompt, Writing to Heal | Tagged ,

“I wrote so I could say I was truly paying attention…”

Wonderful article in The New Yorker by Alice Gregory!

Dear Diary, I Hate You
Reflections on journals in an age of overshare.

Sarah Manguso CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY MONTSE BERNAL / REFERENCE: ANDY RYAN

Sarah Manguso
CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY MONTSE BERNAL / REFERENCE: ANDY RYAN

BY ALICE GREGORY
I suspect that many people who don’t keep a diary worry that they ought to, and that, for some, the failure to do so is a source of fathomless self-loathing. What could be more worth remembering than one’s own life? Is there a good excuse for forgetting even a single day? Something like this anxiety seems to have prompted the poet and essayist Sarah Manguso, on the cusp of adulthood, to begin writing a journal, which she has kept ever since. “I wrote so I could say I was truly paying attention,” she tells us early in her memoir “Ongoingness” (Graywolf). “Experience in itself wasn’t enough. The diary was my defense against waking up at the end of my life and realizing I’d missed it.”

The journal, first envisioned as an amulet against the passage of time, has grown to overwhelming proportions. “I started keeping a diary twenty-five years ago,” Manguso writes. “It’s eight hundred thousand words long.” And the memoir, a kind of meta-diary, is her attempt to interrogate her obsessive drive to maintain a record of her existence. Careful to preëmpt criticism that her project is fey or vainglorious, she characterizes her diary habit as “a vice,” and points out that it has taken the place of “exercise, performing remunerative work, or volunteering my time to the unlucky.” Of all the psychological conditions to be burdened with, graphomania is hardly the worst, and Manguso doesn’t quite succeed in dispelling the suspicion that she is a little proud of her eccentricities, perhaps even exaggerating them. But she seems genuinely not proud of the diary. “There’s no reason to continue writing other than that I started writing at some point—and that, at some other point, I’ll stop,” she writes. Looking back at entries fills her with embarrassment and occasionally even indifference. She reports that, after finding that she’d recorded “nothing of consequence” in 1996, she “threw the year away.”

In her memoir, Manguso makes the striking decision never to quote the diary itself. As she started to look through the old journals, she writes, she became convinced that it was impossible to pull the “best bits” from their context without distorting the sense of the whole: “I decided that the only way to represent the diary in this book would be either to include the entire thing untouched—which would have required an additional eight thousand pages—or to include none of it.” The diary, she observes, is the memoir’s “dark matter,” everywhere but invisible, and the book revolves around a center that is absent. “I envisioned a book without a single quote, a book about pure states of being,” she writes. “It sounded almost religious when I put it that way.”

Manguso, whose previous books include two other memoirs and two books of poetry, grew up outside Boston. Now in her early forties, she teaches writing in Los Angeles, at Otis College of Art and Design. But for most of the book we come away with only the sketchiest outline of Manguso’s life. She’s married, with a son. Her son is young; her husband is from Hawaii; she was once very ill. (Her illness was the subject of her remarkable first memoir, “The Two Kinds of Decay.”) The individual memories she chooses to share often don’t link up to produce a continuous narrative. We get Manguso, at fourteen, looking through a telescope for a comet, failing to see it, and not caring; Manguso, in 1992, writing mostly about hating her mother; Manguso, in college, discovering that a boyfriend has read her diary, including some dismaying reflections on his sexual performance; Manguso, in her late thirties, drinking raspberry-leaf tea in an attempt to trigger early labor, hoping that her husband can be present for both the birth of his son and, an ocean away, the death of his mother.

The memoir, rather than being a synopsis of the life recorded by the diary, is mostly a set of meditations on the fact of the diary’s existence. The tone is matter-of-fact, and the controlled, even staid sentences seem deliberately to reject the manic, melodramatic quality of a diary. The book proceeds in sparse, aphoristic fragments, almost like prose poems. None are longer than a page, and some are just a single sentence:

I started keeping the diary in earnest when I started finding myself in moments that were too full.

At an art opening in the late eighties, I held a plastic cup of wine and stood in front of a painting next to a friend I loved. It was all too much.

I stayed partly contained in the moment until that night, when I wrote down everything that had happened and everything I remembered thinking while it happened and everything I thought while recording what I remembered had happened…

There should be extra days, buffer days, between the real days.
Manguso seldom divulges any particularly sensitive information, and yet her material is, in a sense, vastly more intimate than what we usually think of as private. She picks at the places where language butts up against the inexpressible. Her currency is the “henid,” the philosopher Otto Weininger’s term for the half-formed thought. Her impressions, while lucid, are true to the gauziness of mental life as we experience it. “Ongoingness” is an attempt to take, as Virginia Woolf wrote, “a token of some real thing behind appearances” and “make it real by putting it into words.” It’s hard to think of a more perilous way to write.

The great feat of the book is that it succeeds in not feeling abstract, even though it frequently eschews specificity. There is, in fact, a narrative here, albeit one that functions without the normal signposts of life-writing. Instead, it is a narrative about the gradual shift, as Manguso gets older, in her relationship to time. It is telling that motherhood receives the most attention. “Then I became a mother,” she writes. “I began to inhabit time differently.” She knows that this is something all parents discover—“this has all been said before”—but the consequences are nonetheless immense. “Nursing an infant creates so much lost, empty time,” she writes. “The mother becomes the background against which the baby lives, becomes time.” The rapid growth of a young child creates a new kind of time scale: she dreams of her son’s teeth “beating time in months, in years, his full jaws a pink-and-white timepiece.”

As Manguso’s sense of time dissolves, so does her devotion to the diary. In her twenties, she wrote down her experiences constantly and in minute detail. In her thirties, the diary became more of a log: “The rhapsodies of the previous decade thinned out.” As she entered her forties, “reflection disappeared almost completely.” Manguso doesn’t say that she intends to stop keeping her diary, but the subtitle of the memoir—“The End of a Diary”—implies that the habit may have outlived its usefulness. Another meaning lurks, too: Why does one keep a diary at all? As she looks back on the colossal project, she feels its futility. Although her method was to write down everything, her abiding sense is that “I failed to record so much.” Rather than a protection against time, the diary becomes a cruelly accurate gauge of time’s passage. She finds that she is afraid to read it and to face “the artifact of the person I was in 1992 and 1997 and 2003 and so on.”

One could argue that reading memoirs comes more naturally to us now than ever before. Our critical faculties and emotional voyeurism are primed as they’ve never been. Social media barrage us daily with fragmented first-person accounts of people’s lives. We have become finely tuned instruments of semiotic analysis, capable of decoding at a glance the false enthusiasm of friends, the connotations of geotags, the tangle of opinions that lie embedded in a single turn of phrase. Continuously providing updates on life for others can encourage a person to hone a sense of humor and check a sense of privilege. It can keep friendships alive that might otherwise fall victim to entropy. But what constantly self-reporting your own life does not seem to enable a person to do—at least, not yet—is to communicate to others a private sense of what it feels like to be you. With “Ongoingness,” Manguso has achieved this. In her almost psychedelic musings on time and what it means to preserve one’s own life, she has managed to transcribe an entirely interior world. She has written the memoir we didn’t realize we needed.

The New Yorker – Books APRIL 6, 2015
Alice Gregory is a writer living in New York.

Posted in Journal Writing, Journaling, Memoires, Self-discover, Why journal write? | Tagged ,

The positive power of gratitude journals

Love this article by Lecia Bushak

A Heart-Healthy Diet Of Gratitude: Focusing On Positive Aspects Of Life Improves Well-Being

Apr 10, 2015 05:22 PM By
Little girl on horse
Remembering the little things in your life that make you happy — from your favorite coffee to your friends — can help improve your heart and overall health.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In addition to eating your greens and working out daily, carve out some time in your day to sit down and write thank you notes, call your friends and family, or simply journal about the positive things in your life. Do this without fail, no matter how difficult your life may be.

That’s because, according to a new study out of the American Psychological Association, gratitude may be the key to a healthier heart — and a healthier lifestyle, in general. The study, which analyzed 186 men and women who had been diagnosed with asymptomatic (Stage B) heart failure for 3 months, focused on the positive effects of both gratitude and spirituality on overall health.

“We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health,” Paul J. Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego, and an author of the study, said in the press release.

Stage B patients have structural heart disease, but don’t show the symptoms of heart disease. It’s also a point in the disease where patients can drastically improve their lifestyle and make a difference before reaching Stage C heart failure.

The researchers used standard psychological tests to score patients’ levels of gratitude and spirituality. They compared them to the patients’ scores in depressive symptoms, sleep quality, fatigue, self-efficacy, and inflammation; they found that more gratitude in life was linked to improved mood, sleep quality, self-esteem/self-efficacy, and less inflammation.

The fascinating result was that it wasn’t necessarily overall spirituality — like the belief in God or a greater power — that assisted in improving health (which has been shown to be the case in other studies on the health benefits of religion and spirituality). Instead, it seemed to be the gratitude in particular, or the ability to focus on the positive things, that made the biggest difference: “We found that spiritual well-being was associated with better mood and sleep, but it was the gratitude aspect of spirituality that accounted for those effects, not spirituality per se,” Mills said in the press release.

In another experiment, the researchers asked the patients to write down 3 things they were grateful for, nearly every day, for 8 weeks. They found that “those patients who kept gratitude journals for those eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote,” Mills noted. “Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk.”

So today, sit down and make a list of all the good things in your life. It could be that new job, your best friend, or it can be as simple as a cup of coffee or a scarf on a windy day. Write your friends thank you notes for their recent gifts, visits, or just for fun. Focusing on the good things will reduce your stress and make you realize that things aren’t so bad after all; and this will benefit your cardiovascular health.

“It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health,” Mills states.

Source: Mills P, Redwine L, Wilson K, Pung M, Chinh K, Greenberg B. “The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-Being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2015.

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Posted in Journal Writing

Clarkson professor says journal writing can help mothers raising child with autism manage stress

Clarkson professor says journal writing can help mothers raising child with autism manage stress.

Posted in Journal Writing

Journaling as a life preserver

11115606_10153310703408628_2332984532736518442_nThis quote from Steve Maraboli, in my experience, is so very true. I’ve been in the deep, turbulent seas of over-thinking & over-analysis, that’s for sure.

These tendencies grip our minds for many reasons I find, and aren’t only related to our dreams. They also sprout & propagate, for example, in the emotional quagmire of worry, fear, indecision, guilt, and when we’re not in control of things happening to and around us.  Indeed we can drown in them. Journaling is a life-preserver.

Funneling the words & feelings that comprise over-analysis & over-thinking through a pen and onto paper defines, defuses, and releases them. Once this is done we have the brain-breathing room required to ‘view the horizon’ – see positive, embrace hope, and develop antidotes.

Imagine the immediate improvement to your health, too. It’s like letting the steam out of your teapot. Like exhaling & being able to breathe in fresh air. Muscles relax. Pulse slows. Blood pressure can return to normal. A smile feels possible again. Ah.

Journaling. Truly, it’s miraculous.

Happy Inklings
Jill

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