JOURNAL KEEPING – you need this great habit!

It’s still great when you discover something late in life that you wish you had started sooner! For me, keeping a journal is one of those things.

I started this habit nearly nine weeks ago and have not missed a day. It has really elevated my self care and my productivity and sense of satisfaction that I’m going in the right direction.

The video tells about the framework I use to get the most out of keeping a journal. If it is something you have been curious about or are considering, then have a watch below.

Hello there, my name is Gordon McCrorie I am The Happiness Guy. This video is all about my experiences of journaling so far. I’m relatively new to journaling (about nine weeks) and so far I have managed to not miss a day. In fact, let me start by sharing with you how I have managed to not miss a day.

Looking Good

The first thing I did was to buy myself a journal that is relatively bright. It feels nice. It’s a colour that I like. I leave it in the same place every day, sitting on my dining room table. It has my glasses and a pencil there. It’s a strong visual reminder and it’s ready to go every time I sit down at the table.

I also tagged it on to another habit that I have. I have a coffee every morning so I sit with my coffee and journal every morning.

Habit Forming

Within the journal, what does it look like? Along the top I write the date and a series of tick boxes that I put in.  I have been picking off habits of people I admire or habits I think are really helpful to have in life and have been stacking them up one after another to try and live a great life.

Along the top what I do is list what those habits are and I’ll tick as I go.  Those habits include:

> Meditation. I do that every morning and sometimes more than once a day.

>I’ll have a cold shower, for three minutes every day.

>I am now journaling and have a gratitude practice that is within the journalling which I’ll talk about in a moment.

>I workout most days

>I go for a walk almost every day

>I listen to music

>I read personal development books

>I watch netflix for recreation

Winning Formula

So along the top of my journal I have all these little boxes and I tick as I am going.   I don’t get to tick them all in the morning but I’ll come back to it. Often I have worked out before I journal and whilst I am working out I will listen to music so I am getting to tick (aka accomplish) lots of things. 

It feels like you are already winning, before you get anywhere near work for the day you have done a lot of things for you that you consider important.

Gratitude – Focusing on The Positives

Next in my journal, the structure for me is: What three things am I grateful for today? And of course there might be more than three but I make sure that I always get at least three. 

So you sit and you think and connect to that and it feels good and it forces your brain to think what is good and that is fundamentally important because there is so much we could focus on that’s not good. 

This is my gratitude practice, which feels like a great win as I’ve managed to add a gratitude practice habit at the same time as adding a journaling habit. So it’s two for the effort of one.

I think that my gratitude practice has improved my relationship with my girlfriend as very often I find myself writing down how grateful I am to have her in my life. And if you write this kind of thing down it reminds us to not take people we love for granted.

Body & Mind Scan

After gratitude, the next question is:

How am I feeling physically, mentally and emotionally?

So I scan my body and ask if I have any pain or does anything feel not quite right. I have a thing that goes on with my neck. I’ll not bore you with the details but it means that sometimes my fingertips can sometimes get a little bit numb. Or if I have been working out too much does my body feel a little sore, so it just lets me check in with where I’m at physically and what  my body needs most today.

Mentally I check how busy is my mind and what is the quality of my thoughts? When I consider the quality of my thoughts I mean optimistic or pessimistic. 

Emotionally what emotions have I got, am I feeling low? Am I feeling tired? Am I feeling upbeat? 

Your Own Best Friend

The usefulness of this is that you are actually checking in with yourself. Imagine if it was a best friend and you are asking how they you? But it’s not about saying I’m fine at a surface level. It’s actually to know the truth of how you are feeling and from that you can act skilfully. The skilful action comes from the question:

 ‘What’s one thing could I do to improve that?’

So these questions form a really robust framework to check in with yourself which helps you develop a great relationship with yourself and your relationship with yourself is a really big deal. 

So if you are checking in with yourself on a day to day basis you are going to like you more and you are paying attention to yourself and that’s really important.

List Priorities

After how I am feeling mentally, physically and emotionally, I write freely about anything else that springs to mind. This can include what happened yesterday that I feel was important or what am I thinking about today that I want to prioritise. 

Tracking My Weight

I missed out that I also track my weight in my journal, whether it has gone up or down and any comments on why or my focus for the coming day.

This is because my weight for me is a really good barometer for whether I am on top of all things health and wellbeing or not (and it probably is for you too). So if my weight is drifting up, it might be because I am rushing about too much, I am feeling behind the curve and I might end up comfort eating. So I log my weight in there too. It’s a really good daily practice for me.

Setting Priorities

The other thing that journaling is great for is that it creates this consistency and focus from one week to the next. This is in contrast to it just living every day is a discrete way with no master plan.

Reviewing Your Week

At the end of the week I use my journal to review my week and determine my priorities for the following week. So lets say a particular area didn’t happen. Maybe I picked up an injury and I wasn’t moving as much but now I’ve recovered. At this stage the priority might become making sure I get a full four of five workouts in over the week. 

Or the priority might be driving weight down a little bit. Or making sure that I meditate between sessions at work.

Journalling gives me a framework and a structure to get the best out of me. When I combine journaling with some of my productivity habits what I’ve found is that I am so much more on top of things. I feel like I am really in control (as much as we can ever be in control). 

Gratitude

So, nine weeks in and I have not missed a day. I’m absolutely really enjoying journaling and especially the gratitude part of it. 

It has made a really big difference and I guess if I have a regret it would be that I’m 49 and it took me a long time to find this and do it!

Life Changing Habits

I can see how something like journaling can be life changing. And actually with that life changing thing in mind there was a story about artificial intelligence and an early computer programme that was designed to try in some way to replace therapists or make therapy more accessible to the masses.  The computer would ask things like ‘how are you feeling today Gordon?’ And you would type in how you were feeling. And the computer would then say ‘Sorry to hear that’ pr something along those lines. It was smart enough to respond in a fairly basic way.  

And what they found is that even though people were using a computer programme and it was not a real person it really helped them feel better.

Most of us cannot afford to be in therapy or don’t like the idea of being in therapy. But being heard and having a relationship or conversation with yourself and getting your stuff that is inside out is really important and something that I think will make a massive difference to your life. I can’t speak highly enough of journaling. I really recommend you give it a go.

If you have any questions or thoughts or comments or even if you do it a different way and have any suggestions for me I would love to hear from you. Equally so if there is anything you are challenged with at all or struggling with that you think I might be able to help, just get in touch. I would love to help.

Find out about working with me via an exploratory session.

Have a fabulous day and I’ll speak to you again soon.

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