A More Awesome You, Day 1: Start a Journal

Several years ago I found myself sinking into a major life funk. My girlfriend of two years broke up with me and moved away, I dropped out of college, and I found myself doing the same thing every day, day after day, with a sense of gloom hanging above me. I didn’t laugh as much. I didn’t have a real purpose. I was absolutely bored with myself, disappointed in myself and my lack of achievements, and sick of the same old routine. I was ready to make a change. So, as with most subjects I’m interested in, I jumped onto the internet and started finding ways that could be helpful in tackling my depression head on. It was one of the better decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Does my story resonate with you in any way? Can you relate to some of it? Most people, if not all people, periodically fall into these kinds of low points. And if you are reading this blog chances are good that you are a people, too. Whether you are in one of those crappy–oh, so very crappy–funks right now, or you’re just looking to add some spice to your life, I’m starting the A More Awesome You series to hopefully gleam inspiration on someone who might need it. I’m not a professional psychiatrist– just a dude that managed to find new ways to improve himself. This series of posts will not be focused around ‘curing’ anything– just ways to enrich or improve the life experience. Every so often I will post a few new ideas on how to fight back the funk and keep your spirits up. These are all proactive ideas. They require the reader, you, to take action. There won’t be much suggestion for just sitting around pondering and feeling sorry for yourself. Some ideas are easy, some are difficult. Let’s start with an easy one, one that has completely changed my life for the better:

Start Writing in a Journal Today

There is no better time than now to start writing in a personal journal. And I’m talking about a real, physical journal that you write in with a pen. Yes, that means no blogs or computers for this one. Computers and the internet are amazing pieces of technology, but if you are feeling low I recommend taking a step back from computer use as it might be acting as a type of insulation from ‘real life.’ Picking up a pen and writing words down on a page, I have found, brings a sense of fulfillment. Yes, it is more work, but it is rewarding knowing that you are scribing, not typing, about your life. Plus, poke around and you can find studies that suggest computer use can effect sleep and melatonin levels, neither are very good things for someone who is trying to pull themselves out a funk. If you already keep a journal then I have a few pieces of advice further down the page. And why is now the best time to start? Well, for a few reasons.

For one, if you are in a funk and are feeling like you are ready for a transitional phase in life that leads you to a better place, starting a journal on the very first day is an excellent way to log your progress. Trust me, you will one day love the fact that you can look back and re-read about your own life, shitty times and all.

Secondly, if you are feeling motivated and tackling new things often, you will have plenty to write about, which is awesome. As someone who has been keeping a journal for years now, I will tell you that some weeks it feels like I’m writing down the same shit every day. That is an indicator, in fact, that I probably need to place some focus on switching up my daily routine. But ,during times of reinvention or motivation your journal will be ripe with thoughts, feelings and activity.

Thirdly, keeping a journal will help with sorting through your depressing thoughts and feelings. When we take the time and effort to turn our thoughts, ideas, feelings, and actions into words, it requires processing those things in order to turn them into readable sentences. So, by writing down what is going on in your life and in your mind, you are actually doing a good bit of self-therapy.

There are many other benefits to keeping a journal.

For instance, there will be a time in your life when (hopefully) you are old and by then your memory might start to stink. I’m only 28 and I often have trouble remembering what I did two days ago. But, with a journal, you can go back, any time, and read about your life. You can read about all the memories you might have forgotten, the funny things your friends say and do, the flashes of wisdom that you could use a reminder of, what you used to wear and say 30 years ago, and embarrassing poetry. It might not be that interesting to you today, but one day it will be highly entertaining to relive the musings of your of brain and daily life.

In short, keeping a journal is a way to record your LEGACY OF AWESOMENESS. Humans want to be remembered. Or at least most humans do. And like I said earlier, if you’re reading this, your’re probably a human. If you aren’t, well, you’ve got your own problems when it comes to journaling, more than likely the lack of opposable thumbs. I can’t help you there and I’m sorry. I feel bad about that. But for the rest of us who are capable of lifting up the toilet seat, journals eventually become keepsakes that your future children, or grandchildren, or grandchildren’s children, or nephews or nieces or some unrelated alien from a far off planet, will cherish. Don’t you wish you could read your great-grandparent’s journal? Maybe you can, if they kept one. Read it. You’ll get the idea as to why it’s so cool to take a look back, a far look back, at someone else’s life. How funny will it be in 150 years from now for someone to be reading your journal entry about venting your frustration over how much you hate the new Pinterest app update on your iPhone. Many amazing, historical figures have kept a journal and we have learned much about history, the people of history, and ourselves through their decision to keep a journal. So, on behalf of the entire human race: thank you for keeping a journal!

Tips On What to Write

Ok, so you’ve gone to the store and picked up a spiral notebook with lined college ruled paper for 78 cents at your local 7-11. Or maybe you took the time and spent the resources to find that perfect one. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have a place to write. So, what do you write about?

The short answer: anything you want. Start out by writing what you did that day. I tend to write at night so I can give a nice recap of my day. Others like to write in the morning as they drink coffee or talk to their cat. I personally like to use the computer in the morning. I don’t like staring at a computer screen at night, so I open my journal and write in that instead.

After you wrote what you did that day, write about what you think about it. Was it a shit day? Why? Are you proud of yourself? Why or why not? If you started your journal, that’s something to be proud of. It’s a step. It’s a change of routine. Nice work! It might not feel like much now, but keep at it.

Other ideas include writing what you’re thankful for. Write poetry. Write goals down. Write down feelings of hate or happiness or jealousy. Write about what you ate. Try some journaling prompts. Even if you don’t want to write anything at all, write that down! I have more than one journal entry that looks like this:

Bleh. I’m way too tired to write tonight.

The point is to write, every day. Write honestly. Write as if no one will ever read your journal. Write for yourself. Write about who pisses you off. Write about why you piss yourself off and what you want to do about it. Write about what you are going to do tomorrow.

Oh, and just in case you might forget: DATE YOUR JOURNAL ENTRIES! I personally like to also keep track of the time that I sat down to write, so when I look back on the entry I will know if it was written in a coffee-fueled rage or a sleepy stupor.

For Those of You Already Journaling

If you have been keeping a journal for some time, this post might have been a bit boring for you. BUT, I have also found that it is beneficial to re-think the journaling process from time to time. You see, even the act of journaling can become so routine that it might be adding to the monotony of our lives. So, maybe switch it up every once in a while! Here are a few questions to ask yourself for inspiration and possible new direction:

  • Why do I keep a journal? What is it’s purpose?
  • What new words could I learn and incorporate into my writing? How’s my vocabulary?
  • When was the last time I wrote a poem?
  • How honest have I been writing?
  • Is my journal more negative or positive in tone and feel? How do I feel about that?
  • Could my journal benefit from more colors or pictures?
  • Do I want my journal to be a place to mostly record events or to record thoughts and feelings?
  • If I have been doing mostly one over the other, maybe I could try switching it up or balancing out the two methods?
  • When was the last time I went through and read some of my old journal entries? Write about the experience of re-reading them!
  • Scan the web for journal prompts.

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully this will inspire someone out there to begin the processes of switching up their routine and begin getting a little bit more out of life. Journaling is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you start this process and I am wholeheartedly in support of the habit, as I’m sure you can tell from the tone of this post. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female or depressed or happy or you live an incredibly boring life, journaling will benefit you. Write for an hour. Write for five minutes. Don’t wait to start! You are alive right now and your life is worth writing about, so get to it!

I’ll post another  way to become A More Awesome You in a few days. Oh, and I will be doing all of the activities that I post as well! Please, leave a comment about journaling or why you journal or what you write about, if you feel so inclined! I’m interested in your take on the subject.

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