I want to enumerate why journalling is a good habit, mainly because I want to make it a stronger habit for myself.
1. Self Reflection
The unexamined life is not worth living Socrates
“Know thyself” is the oldest advice in the book. Our life can be unconscious if we choose. The automaticity of thought and daily life can result in an almost trance like state, where you just drift from day to day without really asking the big questions. Who am I, what are my desires, what are some of my personality traits that maybe are harmful?
Humans are conditioned. We are influenced by our environment, our genes, cultural and social memes etc. This is of course inevitable.
The problem lies when this is all unconscious and unquestioned. It is when you don’t question your beliefs and ideas (which of course you’ve just picked up from somewhere else).
So journalling is a way to question yourself. Is there a better way? It’s about living an examined life.
2. Think about things
We often don’t know what we think, until we write it down.
Often it’s just a fuzzy idea. With belief for example, we often make leaps in logic or we just wholesale adopt the belief or opinion of someone we admire, without really thinking it through ourselves.
Writing is structured thinking. And with structured thinking you can more robustly make an informed point.
3. Nostalgia / Recording
I don’t typically look back, but I think that might not always be a good thing.
Psychology has shown that memory formation is flawed. We don’t see reality how is was. Often we are prone to biases such as looking back with rose tinted glasses. Maybe this is a good thing?
Journalling is a way to record day to day. What one did, thought, felt etc.
I’ve been trying to record more in general. Just take more pictures, videos, write. I don’t really go back and look at old photos, but people around me do, and its always nice to share a snapshot in time with someone else.
How I Currently Journal
I used to write in a paper notebook, but increasingly I’ve found using my phone or tablet is more convenient. I do both now.
At the moment, I use an app called : DayOne. You can record video, audio or write. It automatically saves the time and location. And I can write in it anywhere.
I sometimes dictate, because that way I can truly see what thoughts are coming up. There is less of a delay in typing and modifying. You can see the unfiltered reality of thought. It’s almost like having a conversation with yourself. It’s strangely therapeutic.
And what do you journal about? Any challenges during the day, how I can respond better, how I am feeling now. And longer term questions. Really it is personal. But I think the best format is to ask yourself questions. Be curious.
You can also you can just purely record what you are doing. Everyone has a different way of journalling.
But the most important thing I feel is to keep up the habit.