November 26, 2020


Minute read

Getting to the Purpose of Journaling and Why it’s More Than Just a Vessel for Teen Angst

You’ve no doubt heard someone talking about the fact that you should be journaling. Along with it’s cousins meditation and mindfulness, journaling is experiencing a moment in the sun.

But especially if the idea of journaling conjures up an image of a girl in a frilly dress with her fluffy diary scribbling down every last detail of her day, you may be wondering if it’s really all that.

And even if you’ve gotten past that point, you may still be left scratching your head wondering how to actually do this journaling thing in a meaningful way.

I hope to help with both.

Let’s start by getting this out of the way: 

the pracitce of journaling did not begin with little Suzy and her fluffy book about boys! In fact, we can trace the “modern” concept of journaling to the 10th century Japanese practice of Ikigai, or purpose in life.

It is a practice that has enjoyed widespread adoption since. Successful people as varied as George Washington, Marcus Aurelius, Marie Curie, to Oscar Wilde all practiced journaling on a regular basis. 

The reason all of these successful people practiced journaling is because it’s a spectacular way to reflect on your purpose, values, goals, and passions — and bring them to life.

It brings them to the surface and makes them real, which psychologically speaking, makes you more likely to achieve them. 

And speaking of real, the benefits of journaling extend beyond the “mere” psychological and into the realm of our physiological health.

Psychologist James Pennebaker, of the University of Texas at Austin, recently conducted research on the practice of journaling and its impact on our immunity.

Shockingly, he found that regular journaling actually strengthened our immune cells, specifically, ones called T-lymphocytes. 

So even if you find the psychological benefits to be dubious (although there is a TON of research on those benefits as well!), I’m sure you can appreciate the beauty and simplicity that merely jotting down a few paragraphs each day could have a significant, positive impact on your health, right?

But it still comes down to the how! 

How do you begin a journaling practice? 

Well, as I alluded to a moment ago, it’s not about just chronicling your day. The trick is to use journaling as a way of focusing your mind and attention.

And because of that, a little structure can be helpful.

I’ve crafted my own journal format that will help you get to the essence of a journaling practice. It can, of course, be much more involved if you choose it to be, but I’ve found that this approach produces a ton of value, while only requiring a few minutes of commitment each day.

I’m so confident in this approach, in fact, that I’ve included it in our new program, The Focus Factor! So you’re sort of getting a sneak peak at one of my special program resources! 

The best part, in my humble opinion, is that it’s quick, succinct, and purpose-driven. So, you don’t have to feel like you’re spending time on some woo-woo nonsense, if that’s not your thang – but you’ll still be taking the first steps toward breathing life into your purpose! How cool is that?

In addition to helping to check-in with your mind and purpose, this practice will help you:

  • Learn your tendencies and inclinations
  • Solve problems effectively and efficiently 
  • Practice gratitude
  • Get a boost of dopamine and reduce stress
  • Clarify your thoughts (brain dumping is underrated) 

Journaling is one of my favorite types of what is called focused attention mindfulness. It forces you to process, in (almost) real-time what went well and what didn’t in your day. It helps you to decide exactly what you want — and what you don’t — and to program your brain to do what it really needs to be doing to achieve it.

So, as you’ll see, journaling doesn’t have to be this big, complicated process. Download the journal sample below, print it out, grab a pencil, and see what happens. You may just find that it becomes an indispensable part of your routine.

About the Author: Laura Araujo

Passionate about accessible education and evidence-based wellness, Laura founded The MAPS Institute, an educational wellness editorial and platform. Aside from her passion for research and educating, Laura is a classically trained vocalist, sound therapist, and a practitioner and teacher of Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga. She is the creator of the MAPS (Mindfulness, Activation, Purpose, and Surrender) philosophy and is in continual pursuit of helping her students and herself find balance amid the chaos around and within them. When not sifting through Nature Magazine, complaining about their paywalls, she enjoys trying new wine varietals, experimenting in the kitchen, riding her bicycle (sometimes cross-country), and spending time with her husband Charlie, cockapoo Miles, and expected baby girl, Ella.  Click here to follow the MAPS Institute on social media.



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