I've written in a journal almost every day since I was 18. I'll admit I go through phases where I write very little or not at all, but that hardly lasts more than a couple weeks. I've got boxes tucked away in a closet that hold all the notebooks I've filled over the years. Generally, I don't like to read my old entries but every once in a great while I'll flip through one looking for something specific. It's comforting to have them all together. I like the fact that I've recorded so much of my life on paper. My habit has almost always been to write in the evenings, reflecting on the day's events. Sometimes I have little scraps of paper I've tucked into my purse or pocket during the day, where I've jotted down a great thought or funny incident. I'll tape them onto my journal pages or transcribe them in with my other writings.
Although I'm a creature of habit, last month I made a switch. On the advice of my life coach, I've been writing in the mornings. She suggested I strengthen my gratitude practice by making time each morning to write before I start my day. Now that I've started working again, I set my alarm extra early (previously unheard of!) so that I have time for myself, without feeling rushed, before the rest of my morning routine. Initially, I thought I'd be too groggy to be productive right after rolling out of bed. Now, I will admit that I don't sit down without a cup of coffee but I've been surprised at how easily the words start flowing. I also have a great tool that I highly recommend. It's a book called Good Morning: 365 Positive Ways To Start Your Day by Brook Noel. I've had this book for a few years and I've read it intermittently but obviously I wasn't making time for it and I hadn't looked at it in a long time. So I dusted it off and have made it a part of my daily reflection. For each day of the year there is a topic for which there is an entry by the author that's related to the quote she has chosen for the day. Next, there's "Your Turn", which guides you on how to apply today's message to your life and a daily affirmation. Each day is filled with positive messages and reminders to help the reader slow down, identify and focus on the important things in life. I write down each day's affirmation as part of my journal entry. Then when I'm all finished writing, I slide off the recliner onto the floor and meditate for a few moments, usually on that affirmation along with my specific personal intentions for the day. I'm not sure why this hadn't occurred to me before, since I'm a planner! I paired this new habit with my return to the work force last month and I honestly can't believe how good I feel leaving my house each morning. I used to dread getting up for work. I'd set the alarm as late as possible, rush around trying to get everything together, stumble out the door, then spend my commute figuring out what I forgot at home. I'm sure the fact that I wasn't happy at that job was a big factor in all of this, but of all the things I've learned in the last few months, it all comes back to making time for myself and showing myself kindness.
I know I've suggested this before (and I'll probably suggest it in future posts!), but if you don't already keep a journal, give it a try. It doesn't have to be a "diary", just jot down your thoughts or goals, make a list of things you are thankful for, or if you're feeling inspired, get a copy of this book and make it a part of your day. I guarantee you will notice a difference in your days! If you already have a practice similar to mine, please tell me about it! I love to hear what techniques people use to show gratitude!