I was wondering if you could give me ideas on how to be excited to journal? I love to journal but lately I've been dreading journaling because it's all the same. I sit down and write why I'm sad that day, and I tell myself it's going to get better but it doesn't and all my pages have been depressing. I don't like the idea of writing down why I'm happy or what I'm happy for, because then I'd be lying to my journal. I just need to get excited to journal. any ideas?
I get that. I really do. I also think that life and its many pursuits should bring joy and happiness — and journaling is a fantastic way to heal, grow, learn, practice mindfulness…
So that being said, here are my ideas/suggestions for you:
1. Take a break from journaling
You may just be burned out. It happens. Too much of the same thing, enforcing a strict routine, doing it day after day…it can tire you out. Take a break for a couple days and see what happens when you return to it.
2. Practice gratitude
I truly believe (through both first-hand experience and by listening/reading the accounts of others) that the simple act of feeling thankful has incredible affects on the psyche. For any skeptics, I whole-heartedly recommend the book A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life
External image. I’m not usually affected by this stuff — best-selling motivational memoir stuff is NOT my thing…I couldn’t even finish Tuesdays with Morrie. Ugh.
But I do think that focusing on the little things to feel grateful for can yield powerful changes in your own perspective. I’m not talking about broad issues like “I’m glad I have a roof over my head” (unless you are truly grateful for it and can appreciate such a seemingly-simple thing that you ARE fortunate enough to have, in which case I commend you). I’m talking about writing down the little things.
“I’m grateful for the hummingbird I saw today. I’m grateful that it rained today and I was able to sit by the window and gaze outside and get a few minutes of peace. I’m grateful that we still had a scoop of ice cream left at the bottom of the carton when I was craving it after dinner. I’m grateful for my morning coffee. I’m grateful that I bought a new book to read at the store because I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’m grateful that my friend supported me through a difficult decision.”
By shifting your focus from “let’s chronicle the sad things that happen” to “let’s deliberately shift attention to the tiny wonderful things about life,” it becomes much easier to put those sad things in perspective. They will have less power and hold over you.
You don’t have to lie about these things — you just have to pay attention. Start noticing them. Consciously focus on it. As you go about your day, cast your eye around and look for the little things that bring you glimmers of happiness. And slowly you will start to notice more and more of them.
Recognize that writing down all those sad things can still help you, up to a certain point. As long as you write it down, process your feelings, and then shut the book on them, then you can move past the sadness. Don’t let it take hold of you. Get it out into the world (like telling someone about your scary nightmare to make it seem less real), and don’t let those thoughts and feelings control you.
There have been numerous studies that show that:
(1) people suffering from traumatic experiences — like soldiers suffering from PTSD — show signs of healing and improvement when they journal about it and
(2) that taking a step back from the immediacy of your feelings and putting them in perspective as if you’re viewing them through someone else’s eyes, even if you’re wallowing in melancholy, can improve your feelings about the situation.
You see this in young kids listening to angsty or sad or depressing music — absorbing that melancholy and reflecting on it as if from outside their own selves allows them to process and even appreciate their own sadness, as if from a distance. I’ve experienced this myself — and you probably have too, and so have the people reading this.
It can feel sweet and satisfying to indulge melancholic moods through music and journaling, especially if you imagine that you are removed from the situation, chronicling these events as if they’re happening to someone who isn’t quite you.
4. Enjoy yourself
Make the journaling experience more enjoyable by setting the mood.
Clean your desk or workspace, snuggle up in bed, light a candle or plug in some string lights/mood lighting. Get a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage. Put on some music that makes you happy. Take pleasure in the act of journaling itself.
You can even liven up your notebook with some other artsy/creative things that may make you happy — try doodling, pasting in pictures or stickers, drawing or sketching. Do things that are repetitive, where you can relax and stop thinking and just focus on the task.
I hope this helps. Good luck! You’re awesome! <3