In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance. FRANZ KAFKA

As you may already know, many successful people kept a journal or diary. People like Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, and more recently Barack Obama, recorded their thoughts and observations. They recorded their impressions of the people they meet, places they’ve been and the issues that mattered to them.  Journaling is a great way to get to know yourself. Your journal or diary is the only place you can be completely or cruelly honest about your self; your fears and your dreams. It is the ideal place to record your thoughts, accomplishments and the lessons learned from your failures and from life in general.

Ten years ago I started a journal. Though I do not write in it daily, I have clung to it in moments of unbearable loss and emotional crisis. It helps me remember changes in my life that hurt like hell, moments that mattered so to me, days that I was just going through the motions of living, etc. On receiving the news of my mother’s death a few years back, I locked myself away for days, with my journal as my only companion. As tears pumped through my eyes for days, I noted my despair. And last year, after my father’s passing, it was in my journal that I was able to articulate for the first time with utmost clarity how much I loved him. How meaningless life seems without him and my mother.

My journal have served as my confessional at the most difficult moments of my life and have helped me to cope with grief and loss. It is on its pages that I am able to reveal and understand my self most accurately.  And lately, it has become a place where I account and observe my daily actions, my motivations, my fears, my dreams, my losses, my gratitude, unexpected changes, lessons learned daily and what matters most to me. It is also here that the significance of my life is illuminated. It is here that I challenge my self to make my life count.

Though I have been weakened by some of the storms I’ve faced in my life, I am grateful, that I had the strength to record what needs to be recorded, because  I look back at some of these records and it teaches me about the fragility of humanity. It teaches about who I am at my core, what I’m most grateful for and what matters most to me. It helps me to clarify issues and my perspective of life.

You may find that what you’d wish to record in your journal may be completely different from mine and others who you’ve seen do it. What is clear is that just taking time to write down anything about your life will help you understand yourself better and may even enhance your life.

My best tips to get started:

  • Get your self a beautiful notebook or a booklet of blank pages, that you’d love writing in daily.
  • Start with one or two introductory paragraphs on where you are in your life at this very moment, your gratitudes, your aspirations, what matters most to you, etc.
  • Commit to writing three to five sentences at the end of each day. Start with what you are grateful for, your accomplishments, a lesson learned and what you could do better the next day. Share your innermost thoughts, feelings, observations and your aspirations for the future. Your diary is for your eyes only, so be completely honest and don’t sensor your self.  

In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are. The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions. BARRACK OBAMA



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