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  • Writer's pictureMadhura

Journaling - the habit that changed everything

Hello my dear friends ! Welcome back to yet another episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine podcast. A very warm welcome if you are tuning in for the first time. If you are looking for some motivation, some positivity and some joy in your day, then you are in the right place. I am here to fill your day with a boost of inspiration. So start your day if you are listening to this episode in the morning or end your day if you are listening to this episode while winding down from a busy hectic day with some happy moments that I experienced this past week.

Happy Moment of the Week

This weekend, I worked on my hobby, you guessed it right. I trimmed my indoor plants, gave them a water bath, repotted some of them. For the first time ever, I tried propagating my most loved zz plant. Now I am eagerly waiting for it to show some rhizomes and roots. It is such a good experiment to do with kids. We just cut a small portion of my existing plant and placed it in the mason jar. We can clearly see how the roots grow. We are excited to see the progress of growing a new zz plant. I had the most relaxing time with kids and my plants. I started bringing in indoor plants last year. I am still a beginner but I am so happy that I am able to keep most of the plants alive for a year, through the rough winter, house moving and what not. They bring me so much joy and relaxation. I am looking forward to bringing in some more indoor plants this year. I have a short list ready for the next set of plants and can’t wait to share with you once I get them. So, this was my happy moment for the week. Now, it’s your turn to let me know your happy moments, I am looking forward to reading your happy moments in my weekly post. As you must be aware that I always have a post about happy moments in my Facebook group - Morning Cup of sunshine community. Come, join me there and let’s have some hearty conversation.

Alright, shall we start the episode? But first, I want to thank Deepali for suggesting this topic. I am so glad that you suggested this topic. I got an opportunity to read about journaling and I got to know so much about it. I can not wait to share what I learned while I was researching for this topic. So thank you again Deepali for suggesting the topic, I value this engagement very much so keep suggesting beautiful and meaningful topics just like this one..

What is journaling?

In very simple words, journaling is a mindfulness practice. It is just writing your deepest emotions, your thoughts and even your experiences. It is a way of channeling your difficult feelings into a healthy and creative way. It is the practice that gives you an opportunity to get to know yourself better every single day. It is not your typical diary as a diary is just records of events but your journal is the place where you can gather your thoughts, explore new ideas, it is the place where dreams take shapes. I was completely oblivious about journaling till last year. I had heard about it but never really thought of journaling myself. I still remember the day I decided to start journaling. I was listening to Rachel Hollis’s podcast and she was talking about her 5 to thrive program. She mentioned journaling as one of the steps in her program. I was curious to know more about it. I googled it and the world of journaling just opened in front of me. There were thousands of different journals in the market, they were so pretty and inviting. But remember the days in last March, amazon prime was not the fastest delivery system anymore. It was hard to get even the basic necessities, let alone some pretty journals. Also, I was not really sure if I am going to continue this habit. I didn't want to invest in something which might be just a temporary phase. If you have listened to my episodes before, you know I love collecting some pretty notebooks, pens , diaries and what not. I have a collection of some pretty but inexpensive notebooks. Instead of buying a new designated journal I started using one of my existing notebooks and just started writing into it. I can not recommend journaling to you enough. It has given me so many moments of joy, inspiration. It was one of the best things that happened to me. I experienced countless benefits of keeping a journal.

Benefits of Journaling

As most of you already know, I write three things in my journal every single morning. The first and most important prompt is the list of things that I love about the last 24 hours. I can not tell you how much joy this prompt has brought me. Everyday, I reflect on the day before and I find at least three things that made me smile. You won’t believe it but I always find more than three things. Those are not some huge achievements or some monumental experiences but instead those are generally very small and trivial moments. Sometimes, I write about the fun bedtime story we read, or the perfectly baked cupcakes or the way I felt after one hour long workout session. Sometimes, I write about the joy I felt after seeing a tiny new leaf growing on a fiddle leaf fig tree. Sometimes, it is all about the sunrise I get to see through my window. These are some things which could have been easily ignored but now that I write about it everyday, they remind me how much I have that I should be grateful for. Sometimes, at the end of the day, when I feel exhausted due to huge workload and house chores, instead of getting stressed out about my day, I just take a glance at my journal and it reminds me that this day was not just stress , it had its joyful moments. I try to focus on those moments more. Journaling taught me to find little sprinkles of happiness in small moments.

Another benefit that I personally experienced was increased focus. I write about my goals and dreams every single day. I write the exact same goals every single day. It helped me focus on those and really work to get closer to those goals. Every time, I feel lost or a little deviated from the goal, I read my journal, it gives me the boost to keep on working.

I love writing about intentions. It makes me feel grounded. It helps me set the tone of the day. When I set my intentions to be more stress free that day, I tend to remain more calm during the day. When I set my intentions to be more productive, I tend to remain more focused on the tasks at hand.

Journaling has allowed me to self reflect and be more self compassionate. There are some people who doodle in their journal, doodling is their way of expressing their emotions, thoughts. It boosts their creativity. So if you like to draw or doodle, you can try that in your journal too. There are no strict rules of writing a journal. It is the medium to express your own thoughts, and you can have your own way of expressing those thoughts.

There are some people who don’t use any prompts rather just journal their thoughts every single day. If you love to write, you will love this free form journaling. It definitely helps you to know yourself better. One thing I have noticed is journaling helped me deal with my big feelings, those emotional turmoil. Especially, in the beginning of 2020, when there was so much uncertainty and fearful atmosphere, journaling helped me navigate those days with more positivity and hope. But is this the only way to journal? Are there any other prompts? What if you don’t want to use any prompts? As you are just thinking of starting journaling, I understand, you might have these and many more questions like these in your mind. Let me tell you one thing, there are no rules or strict guidelines about journaling. It is completely up to you how you want to journal.

Types of Journaling

Journaling is a way of expressing your thoughts and emotions. It is the way to reach to your soul through your own words. As Oprah once said, keeping a journal will change your life in a way that you never imagined. It is your personal choice how you keep your journal. There are different types of journals that you can pick from. You can have a simple notebook, just like what I have and write your daily thoughts into that or pick your own prompts so that writing becomes easy. I have seen people keeping the gratitude journal where they write about things that they are grateful for. Some people keep a reading journal if you want to rekindle your habit of reading. You can write about the book you are reading, your thoughts, the ways that book is impacting your life. You can keep a fitness journal to track your progress, you can plan your workouts, meals, your daily steps, water intake, your progress pictures in that journal. If you like to put your dreams onto the paper, a dream journal is for you. You can write all about your dreams so they have a better chance of retention. Travel journal if you like to travel and write about your amazing experiences. I was talking about that doodling just a few minutes back, it could be your artistic journal. It releases your artistic energy and lets your creative juices flow. Food journal if you want to be more intentional about your food or if you want to collect your awesome recipes and the experiences associated with that food. If you are a creative writer, or podcaster or in any creative field and you get a sudden rush of ideas in the middle of grocery shopping or lawn mowing or while traveling in a train for your work, keep a pocket journal to scribble down your thoughts. If you are not a pen and paper person, you can keep a digital journal. Just open the notes section of your phone and write down your thoughts. There are so many different digital journaling apps available, you can pick what you like. There are countless types of journals, you need to pick what suits you and your thought process. I understand choosing a journal is a big step but starting and sticking to the habit of journaling is the next big step that you need to follow.

How to actually start Journaling?

Starting any new habit needs little bit of discipline, motivation, inspired actions. I have talked about it at length in my most popular episode so far. It is Episode No - Starting a new habit. I highly highly recommend you to go back and listen to that episode. You will find tons of tips and tricks to start a new habit. I will put a link in my shownotes for you. Don’t miss that episode, it can change your perspective about habits. Alright, coming back to the habit of journaling., First of all trust me when I say journaling is the best self improvement tool that you can have. I have said this in the past, whenever you want to start any new habit, try to associate it with some old habit. Let me explain what I am saying. Let’s say, you brush your teeth after you wake up and then have a cup of coffee or tea while you read a newspaper or scroll down your phone for a few minutes before you start your chores for the day. This is your existing habit for years. Now you want to start a new habit of journaling. Try to include it between your coffee time and chores time. Write after you finish your coffee or tea, you will write a journal before even starting the chores for the day. Keep your journal and pen ready right in front of you. If you are still lacking, set an alarm to write a journal for a few days, till it becomes part of your daily routine. It is all about taking the first step and then continuing with baby steps. Every day counts. Pick out a nice notebook that you like, and maybe a nice pen. Pick the space where you want to sit every day to write in your journal. I like to sit near a window so that I can look outside, see the sunrise. It instantly makes me happy and calm. Journaling helps you slow down, helps you live in the moment, instill mindfulness. It needs its own space, time and energy. Never write in your journal as if it is a chore. Never force yourself to scribble but instead just sit with your journal even when you don’t feel like it, read your previous entries. Sometimes reading your happy moments, your gratitude entries helps you write for that day. Journaling is an age old technique to help you know yourself better. People have been writing journals, diaries for centuries. It is interesting to read your own old journals. It is like a quick trip through your past. It helps you relive the moments from your past and that is the reason I chose to write only happy and positive moments in my journal. Although I understand, you experience all sorts of emotions and anger, fear, jealousy, disappointment, anxiety are all part of our life and I do experience those emotions as well. But I don't want to relive those moments again, instead I want to focus on what good happened on that day. I prefer talking about my sad and stressful feelings with my loved ones. It makes me feel better when I talk it out, I like the two way communication whenever I feel trapped in my own dark space. My journal is my happy space. It is the space where I want to revisit every time I feel lost and come back energized and happy. So, but again everybody is different and I totally respect that. So, if you feel better after writing about not just happiness but all sorts of emotions in your journal, then that is okay too. Whatever you choose but I will tell you one thing, journaling will be the best thing that happened to you. Journaling habits are worth the effort. Just stick to it for a month and I guarantee you, you will fall in love with this habit. It will make you feel so loved and grateful that you want to continue it without any strict discipline. It will become your ritual, integral part of your daily routine. Exploring your thoughts by journaling will bring you closer to your own self. It will help you navigate through your feelings, it will help you distill between what really matters and what’s not in your life. Remember, when you journal, you are giving yourself a voice, allow yourself to be heard while listening.

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