I love a good challenge. What about you?
Whenever I read about some study that has been done, and the researchers show results in a month or less; then that makes me feel like I want to take on the challenge.
For example, I just recently tried a blueberry challenge. According to this study, one cup a day every day for a month leads to a better mood, and better mobility. And sure enough… just as the study showed, at the end of the month I was in a better mood, and I am certain I had better mobility.
I also felt happier and more focused. (And an extra benefit was that I also brushed my teeth more often because they, as well as my lips, were turning purple.)
Currently, I’m in the midst of a 7-day water challenge. I talked one of my daughters into joining in because… doing a challenge with someone else always makes it more fun!
And, no doubt, you’ll be excited to hear that I have a prune challengeon my calendar as well. That one needs to be done when I am close to home… maybe!?
So, Would You Be Up for a Challenge?
I have one that I want to persuade you to try out. Let’s call it, ‘doing the write thing’.
Your assignment requires writing in a journal each day. I know, I know…. I am well aware that some people do not like to write. And so, they make lame excuses that keep them from receiving the great benefits that come with journaling.
Do any of these ‘I don’t want to write in a journal’ excuses ring a bell with you?
- “I don’t have the time.”
- “What’s the point? No one wants to read what I write… and I don’t either.”
- “There’s no instant gratification… scrolling on my phone is more fun.”
- “I’m not any good at writing.”
- “I usually just end up with a ‘to-do’ check list.”
- “I find journaling to be very boring.”
- “I’ve tried it before and just couldn’t stay motivated.”
- “When I have tried it, I didn’t know where to start or what to say?”
- “I don’t believe there are any real benefits to journal writing.”
But hold on. What If I told you that just committing one hour a day to this challenge could make you smarter, feel better, be less stressed, lower blood pressure, give you more energy, make you feel happier and enable you to have greater success on your goals? Then would you do it?
Journal Writing Is Great for Your Mind AND Your Body
What if you learned that journaling has been proven to not only be good for your mental health, but also your physical health?
That’s right; the benefits are just amazing! Journaling has been shown to strengthen immune cells. It can decrease the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. And journaling has actually been shown to heal injuries faster. It is true! According to one study, personal journaling can predict an astonishing 53% reduction in all-cause dementia risk!
So let me ask you again: Are you up for the challenge of doing the ‘Write’ thing? I hope you are raising your hand and yelling out “You bet, Sister, count me in!”
If one of your excuses for not journaling is that you don’t know where to start or what to say, then stick with me, Girlfriend, and I will show you the way.
Although I have been regularly writing in my journal for decades. And believe me, the journey hasn’t always been straightforward or smooth.
I Started Out with Cleaning Out the Cobwebs
I struggled for quite a long time while I adopted Julia Cameron’s philosophy of ‘morning pages’ as a means of journaling. In her book, The Artist’s Way, she encourages the ‘wanna be’ artists to fill up three pages in their journal each day. She suggests just writing down whatever comes to you… any random thoughts and ideas. A kind of ‘cleaning out the cobwebs’ process.
I have a stack full of journals that include my three pages of random thoughts from my messy mind. I found that although Cameron’s method did help to clean out the rubbish from my brain bin, it did not seem to better prepare me for my ‘real project’ – personal growth.
So, when I came across this quote by Tony Robbins, I had a light bulb moment.
“The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of questions you are asking yourself.”
That was it… I would design my journaling strategy around using quality questions!
After all, what I ultimately hoped to gain from journaling was a means of growth, of expansion, and of becoming a better me.
Thus, I began to ask myself quality questions each day. I decided to refer to keeping my journal as doing the ‘Write Thing’.
So Let Me Explain How You Can Do The ‘Write Thing’
I find a cozy spot, bring my cup of coffee, and start by writing out the date and this sentence on the top of the page: Today is going to be a great day! Then I say it out loud… like I mean it!
As my writing progressed, I created the acronym ‘I LAUGH MORE’ to help organize my writing.
I = Intention = What Is My Intention for This Day?
What do I want? Many of us don’t give much thought to what we want. We should be asking ourselves this question each day: What do I want? What will make today a great day?
Then write it down.
And after clarifying your intention for the day, ask yourself, “What can I do to support my intention? What can I do to make it a great day?”
If we want more success on our goals, ambitions and dreams, having clear intentions is critical.
L = Learning = What Am I Learning About That I Want to Remember?
“When you stop learning you start dying.” This quote by Albert Einstein is a great reminder for all of us to stay Lifelong Learners so we can live long fulfilling lives.
Are you reading a non-fiction book, taking a class, traveling, or getting ready to launch a new idea? If we repeat what we want to learn we have a better chance of remembering it.
Research has found that if you write something by hand, all that complex sensory information increases the chances the knowledge will be stored for later.
What are you learning and why is it important to you?
A = Action = What Action Will I Take with the Information I Am Learning?
We have all heard that knowledge is power, but it’s really only true power when you take action and actually apply what we’ve learned.
So, our next question is: How will you apply the information you are learning? What action will you take? Like this article for example… you have to not only read about doing the ‘write thing’ – you have to do it!
U = Undone = What Is Something That I Have Put Off Doing?
Is there a chore that remains undone? You know, that thing that saps your energy every time you think about it? Or, perhaps it’s that tear in your heart that you haven’t taken steps to mend? Is there someone you haven’t forgiven? A conflict you haven’t resolved? Is there a burden that you need to let go of and be done with… like the stories you tell of your past that don’t serve you?
I used to clutter up this part of my journal with a ‘to do’ list of the things that I wanted to get done that day like buy a gift for my sister, go to the grocery store, sign the grandkids up for the art class. I finally got myself a note pad that I keep beside me to remind me of those kinds of tasks. I call it ‘Today’s to-do’s’.
G = Gratitude and Grace = What Am I Grateful for? Who Needs My Prayers?
Here are just a few of the many benefits of expressing your gratitude:
- increased happiness and positive mood
- more satisfaction with life
- better physical health
- better sleep
- less fatigue
- lower levels of cellular inflammation
- greater resiliency
- encourages the development of humility, and wisdom.
What are you grateful for today? Don’t just write it… feel it (include big and small things).
And the other part is grace. Who needs your prayers today?
I choose 3 people: a loved one, an acquaintance, someone I don’t like.
Clearly visualize them receiving your gifts of prayer and grace.
H = Health = What Will I Do Today to Support My Becoming a Healthier Me?
Think small steps. How can I become 1% healthier, do one more thing?
I find that being intentional in this area is super important. Eat the rainbow today, walk one more block, 10 minutes of meditation, drink 8 glasses of water, order my vitamins, make an appointment for my yearly check-up.
Having good health is not the end of the journey; it’s the vehicle that will get us to where we want to be.
M = Marvel at Your Mate = What Is Something My Mate Did Recently That Reminds Me How Marvelous He Is?
What we focus on we will see more of. The more I look for the good, the more good I will see.
I think of all the questions I decided to ask each day, this one made an immediate difference. Such a beautiful way to start out my day is to remember what a great partner I have.
What can you do or say today to support you mate? Is it a compliment you should give, an act that you should do or simply being kind, giving a hug and a thank you?
O = Others = What Other Person in My Life Do I Want to Reach Out to?
More than 100 years worth of research show that having a healthy social life is incredibly important to staying healthy in mind, body and spirit.
The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships.
What will you do today to enhance the quality of an important relationship in your life? Who will you contact today (text, email, call or see)? Is there someone who you feel called to reach out to?
R = Review and Reflect = What Went Well Yesterday?
Think of three things.
What did you do yesterday that was fun, fulfilling or loving? How did that make you feel? What do you regret not having done? Is there anything you can do today to fix or repair any regrets you have?
E = Exemplify = What Can I Do Today to Serve as an Example to Others?
I have my vision board in front of me as I write this article. There is a picture of a woman walking with a strong posture, using big strides with her shoulders out. Below her it says, “Walk like everyone’s watching.”
If everyone is watching you, what would you like them to see?
I Laugh More – What Made Me Laugh?
Having this question ‘what made me laugh’ before me each day reminds me to search out more reasons to laugh… I want to giggle more and let my laughter become louder and more frequent.
I recently wrote an article on putting more laughter in our lives. Like so many things in our life, just being more aware of them can be a catalyst for change.
Make the Challenge Your Own
I hope I persuaded you to take on the journaling challenge and do the ‘Write Thing’.
Like all habits we want to develop, we want to make them our own. It is best if we tweak the steps to suit our personal preference. So, pick and choose the questions that most resonate with you. You may decide to create your own list.
Please feel free to download my journal page format to get you started, SMALL STEPS FOR HEALTHY LIVING.
Let’s Have a Conversation:
What aspects of journaling do you find most beneficial? Do you have your own style of journaling that works well for you? I would love to hear from you if you find this helpful.