Mastery of the mind is the key to inner and outer freedom, breaking free from the shackles of conditioned thinking should be a goal for everyone. Journaling is a useful technique that will support this process and help engineer your way to a happier life.
Strengthening the mind requires training and discipline like any other muscle in the body. When you train your bodily muscles the mirror is used to gauge your progress and identify areas of improvement – Your journal is your mirror for the mind.
“Journal is one of the simplest ways that I have found to consistently ensure improving my well- being and happiness. Both in terms of achievement and actual measurable, quantifiable results.” – Tim Ferris
Crystallising your thoughts to paper creates a landscape of opportunity – you have the capacity to refer back to these thoughts and notice if they are supporting you in your growth or holding you back.
The affects journaling can have.
Research has been conducted in the USA that looked at the science behind gratitude and appreciation and found some amazing results:
- Stronger immune system
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More joy, optimism and happiness
- Acting with more generosity and compassion
- Feeling less lonely and isolated.
Now that you understand the science, lets breakdown the key elements of your morning journal:
How do you feel this morning
I write my morning journal about 30 minutes after waking up in the morning, the first thing I record is how I feel.
I have a rating scale for my current mental/emotional state as either: bad, average, good, great, excellent. This helps me bring the underlying emotion or feeling to words.
Whatever that feeling is, write a few sentences about why you feel that feeling, are you feeling bad/average because of a poor night sleep? Do you feel great because you have an exciting day a head?
Then go another layer deeper, why did you have a bad night sleep? What did you eat/drink for dinner the night before that caused this?
By reflecting on how you feel and why you feel that way, you give yourself a benchmark for measuring improvement and the opportunity to correct any behaviours that are not causing you to feel above average.
Usually sleep has a big impact on your ‘state’ in the morning, read about how you can improve your sleep here.
What are you grateful for
“Upon awakening, let the words Thank You flow from your lips, for this will remind you to begin your day with gratitude and compassion.” – Wayne Dyer
Journaling gratitude has the unique ability of combining the thought with the movement of writing it to paper – this engages 2 more of your learning modalities: writing and reading. The more learning modalities you involve the more likely your brain will commit the action to long-term memory.
This exercise will create a deeper impact on your emotions as you become more aware of the language behind your thoughts.
It’s important to focus on particular people, places, events that caused you to feel positive emotions. These are the feelings you want to cultivate when journaling.
Try to embody the feeling as you write – make it something that happened in the last 48 hours as this will be fresh in your brain.
They can be as simple as:
- The happiness your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend brings to your day
- The amazing sunset you witnessed last night
- The food you had for dinner
- The happiness you get from spending time with friends.
Use the power of affirmations
I pick one affirmation each day that will fuel my mind with positive energy for the day ahead.
Affirm that you are deserving of all the abundance the universe has to offer. Affirm your love for yourself.
The mind is a sponge, it will absorb anything you soak it in – allow your mind to soak up positive affirmations every morning and watch the powerful affect this has.
There are some brain hacks when journaling that will help amplify the positive effects, try to include them when you can:
Always hand write
There is a fundamental process that happens when you put pen to paper – when your brain looks at your own hand writing it commits yourself to what you have written to paper.
Use the same pen
Use the same pen for your journaling – find a special pen – this creates routine and ritual.
Your special pen will be used as a trigger for the mind to enter the mental-state for journaling. Rituals have a neurological impact that have proven to work.
5 minutes a day is all you need to create a massive shift in your mental state – anchoring your thoughts to paper and re aligning you into a state of gratitude provides the ingredients for a perfect happiness recipe.
I hope you find as much benefit from this morning practice as I have.