What I Learned in 2011: Journal to Get Your Thoughts Out

January 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Another lesson I learned in 2011 is about the benefits of journaling.

Journal
The biggest advocate I know about journaling is my friend Jason Womack. Jason has a journal and pen he takes everywhere with him. He jots down quotes, diagrams, and gets his thoughts down on paper to organize, sort, and sift through them. In fact, Jason has a his second book being released next month and I am sure most of the content in that book started in his journal. 

I journal almost every day as part of my morning quite time. I usually journal anywhere from 250 to 500 words with the same pen every single day. (Writing with the same pen is another thing Jason Womack taught me because it helps to trigger your brain's creativity.) When I journal I mostly jot down my thoughts about what I did the previous day, what I experienced, things I have been thinking about, or a goal I am considering to shoot for. 

4 Things Journaling Does for Me

  1. Journaling helps to clarify my thinking. When I have to take time to sit down, write out my thoughts, and think through them it helps to clarify my thoughts. There are many times when I am journaling about a problem I am going through and by the time I have journaled about the problem and written it down I have several ideas about how to solve it. The simple act of writing down my thoughts helps my brain to process that information so it can be used in a positive way.
  2. Journaling feels like therapy at times. When I am going through a tough stretch of life or have experienced some hurt feelings in the previous days, just journaling about what happened helps me to feel better. The process of taking ten to twenty minutes to journal my thoughts and get them down on paper gives me a sense of relief and helps me let go of those negative feelings.
  3. Journaling has been a great way to look back on my life and what I have been going through. One of my favorite activities is to go back through my journals to read about what I was thinking, what goals I had, and what I was feeling. Many times I have went back to my journals after the first couple of nights I took my girlfriend, Jen out on dates. Or when I go back to read my thoughts on what I was going through while leading A Day of Hope or when I read about the accumulation of a book project.
  4. Journaling lets your legacy live on. This is one I have not experienced, yet, but I hope my journals one day serve as a way for my kids, grand kids, or others to learn about my life and who I was. Those journals contain my most intimate thoughts and I hope those are beneficial for others to read and relate to at a later time.

In 2011 I learned that I need to journal to get my thoughts out on paper. There are many benefits to journaling and I hope you are able to engage in it as well.

Question: Do you journal? If so, how often and why?

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Note: I recognize that not all people are geared towards journaling. My girlfriend hates to journal because she feels it slows down her thoughts and it does not allow her to think fast enough. That might be a downside to journaling, but I believe it is the upside. The benefit of journaling is that it forces you to slow down and think through you thoughts. It causes you to question if your thoughts even match up to reality, it helps you realize what might have caused your thoughts to take place, and it helps to forget about your thoughts if you get them out of your head and on paper.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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