These days we all tend to capture our special moments in photographs on Facebook and Instagram. Short messages, captions and updates about our most significant occasions.
Flick through most people’s feeds and you’ll see what matters the most to them. Holidays, exam results, new homes, engagements, weddings, childhood milestones. All carefully documented in date order as they happen. Can you honestly imagine how you would feel if all that got deleted?!?
Flick back through and see the story of a life. Or what they allow you to see anyway ….....
That’s the point.
A lot of us do consider our social media accounts to be modern versions of a diary.
Whereas many of us would never put pen to paper, Facebook is sociable and convenient. Plus, almost all our friends and acquaintances, old and new are there too. There’s a sense of belonging.
The concept of keeping a diary has become antiquated.
But our social media accounts are not quite like diaries. Most of the time, they’re out there for the world to see. So we don’t tend to add anything too private or too personal.
Writing about our lives privately is a powerful way to preserve the present for the future and can be beneficial for a whole load of other reasons.
You have the ability to be really honest. Perhaps vulnerable. To really speak your mind in an unabridged way. To write the sort of thoughts and feelings that would never put in the public domain.
Here’s just ten reasons I can think of that explain why keeping a journal or personal diary could be the best thing you ever do.
Capture your memories
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but it doesn’t tell you how you felt at a particular moment. Writing about the things that happen to you each day, no matter how big or small, is the best way to capture the thoughts and feelings that are the essence of every event.
The short, witty captions we usually attach to files of photos on Facebook aren’t the same thing. You’re not usually going to want to say anything too heartfelt or embarrassing.
You’re also not going to want to document everything, every day for fear of being irritating.
When, in years to come, you open your journal to look back on your memories, you will instantly be plunged right into the atmosphere of the time, in a much more powerful way than a picture alone can achieve.
Set yourself goals
No matter how happy we are in the present, we all have ideas about what we want from the future. Your personal diary is the ideal place to list these goals, and work out strategies for how to achieve them. You can check your progress along the way, and tick off goals as you hit them.
Would you put your goals out there for all to see? I didn’t think so.
Express your creative ideas
Have you ever had a “eureka” moment? Invented something, been inspired by something, or had an idea for a blog, a novel, or a recipe? Any sudden stroke of genius?
A personal journal is the place where you can jot down these ideas, and put flesh on the bones of each idea until you can work out whether or not it’s something you want to continue with.
Have a really good brainstorm. Add to it as you have time to think it over more. And keep it to yourself – no nobody else can copy it.
Improve your communication skills
Even if we don’t write much in everyday life, the ability to express ourselves clearly is important in just about everything we do. By getting into the habit of writing each day, we improve the way we communicate and use language, without even realising it.
We expand our vocabulary. Explore using alternative words, tones and expressions.
There are so many very different occasions in your life where you’re going to have to write and speak, this can’t be a bad thing.
Have an accurate record of events
You never know when you might need to recall something you have done or seen on a particular day. Whether it’s a family dispute or even something as serious as a court case, sometimes you might be called upon to provide an accurate version of events.
By writing down all the incidental things we have seen and done, we can offer a precise account of events that have happened on a specific date.
Not really social media material.
Work out how you feel about different issues
Life can be confusing and overwhelm seems to have become really rampant in the last few years. We see it mentioned everywhere from books to blogs. Magazines have suddenly appeared on supermarket shelves promoting self-care and mindfulness and every time I go there seems to be more.
Sometimes you just don’t know how you feel about a particular issue, whether it’s a new project at work, financial concerns or issues surrounding relationships.
Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work things through in your mind and understand how you really feel. It can help you to piece everything together and find solutions.
Plus, by keeping a record of your thought processes, you can look back, learn and improve your decision-making skills for the next time.
Recover from bad experiences
Talking is the most popular form of therapy, as trying to put things into words can enable us to come to terms with bad things that have happened to us. But talking doesn’t work for everyone. Keeping a journal can work in a similar way.
A personal diary is your private place where you can be totally honest with yourself. Write about the bad things as well as the good, and express the way you feel about them. By working out your feelings on paper, you may find these difficult events are easier to handle.
Figure out what works and what doesn’t
No matter how successful we are, we all encounter bumps in the road from time to time.
When it comes to work, relationships and parenting, a lot of the time, we have to go through a process of trial and error before we find the answers we need.
Keeping a journal provides with a record of what has worked in the past and what hasn’t, which can save us a lot of time and pain the next time we need a solution.
Become more organised
Writing a journal each day can help us to be more organised, and I for one find that planning and organising things (practically speaking – you can’t plan out everything), helps me forget less, stress less and get more done.
It’s a great routine and a skill that transfers into other areas in your life, helping you to keep to your plans, allocate your time more effectively, procrastinate less and beat the overwhelm.
See how far you’ve come
Whenever you feel that your life isn’t progressing as fast or as far as you would like. Whenever it feels like everything’s going wrong and that the entire year has been one disaster after another, it can be helpful to look back.
Whether you write every day, once a week, once a month, or just on significant occasions, your personal diary provides you with a record of who you were at all the different stages of your life, so you can see that, in fact, you have come a lot further than you realised. And you’ve still got a long way to go.
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