Seeking research to back up statements in my next book (about stress), I came across psychology papers acclaiming the act of journal writing. Candid diaries, rather than the typical politician's journal designed to inflate the author when eventually published, have a beneficial effect on the writer. Studies across the globe have found that those who honestly write regularly about their inner life are generally more content with themselves, achieve their goals more, exercise more, are healthier and some argue, live longer.
That is quite something and hence my sharing it with you today. Forgive me if I include my paragraph (below), written within 40 minutes of opening my eyes this morning. You might prefer to write in the evening, or over a cup of afternoon tea, the pseudo-philosopher Krishnamurti advocated that when in bed, quickly going over your day without involvement not only helps you sleep better, but clears the mind.
The psychologist who leads this field of research admits he waded through tons of self absorbed writing and repetitive themes which bored him. Having once written my own daily diary, I recognise this - being stuck in circles. My own solution to this has been to write once or twice a week, some of which influences my blog and the memories and reflections on the /odds page of this site.
The key is aiming to be as honest with yourself as possible. I thought I was until I read my stuff months later and saw I'd made myself the hero of each blog, no matter how self-critical I thought I was being. This is normal, researchers have found. Even the psychologist most interested in this specific aspect of the topic found he did the same. In one sense that's good - we're telling our own stories in a good light, however, seeing through this trait eventually leads to our putting our little selves into a more global context. This implies that, should you reread your journals months later, you will gradually find you are becoming wise about your own self-trickery.
I advise that you keep them short. Here's mine today:
8.20am, 4May 2018. "I woke feeling sluggish and unable to talk to my wife who was unduly chatty, which is unusual for her in the mornings. I stumbled through the motions of a cold wash, which usually tingles me awake but which hardly sparked consciousness from me. Dressing was a pain which took longer than expected, so was completed in the kitchen as I set the kettle going. Tea made, but heaviness persisted, so I took myself up into the garden. This was no small step but a leap for this man in that first half hour of trying to wake, for we have a tsunami of green rising sharply from the back door, culminating in decking laid beneath the scrubland which continues to the ridgetop protecting this village. The stunning view was boring. The extraordinary sky dull. The superb birdsong, noisy. I shook myself, raised my arms, breathing deeply in and out as I swung them back down and up again, again and again. It made little impression. Feeling sorry for myself, I wandered up and down the steep steps, attempting to revive myself. It sort of worked, or was it the tea? Going back inside I was able to notice my wonderful wife rather than be stuck in my own inner muddle. Ha, how lucky I am!"