The new year can be a time of fresh starts, and one way is journaling. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way recommends writing three pages long-hand before you’re fully awake in the morning.
Why? Because you dump irritation, bad feelings, complaints onto the pages usually, and then you begin your day, and a lot of what would have muddied the hours is on those pages, rather than carried outward with you. It’s as if you’ve been heard. And writing three pages every morning creates discipline. (And more, but you’ll have to find out about that by going to her website.)
A lot of people are doing gratitude journals. A blog I read recently spoke to this topic with words from Nicoletta Baumeister: “Gratefulness thoughts in the morning light are about the setting of the daily lens. What will we take in, what will we seek and what is today’s sense of self? Feeling grateful puts my feet on solid ground, able to work out the next step; whereas, asking what I don’t have sets my day on a frantic course.” She ends her day in an interesting way, too: “A poem, haiku or a small drawing at night has the effect of driving all other thoughts away. The narrowed focus and purity of intent creates a sense of calm after a day of supersaturated activity. It also affords feelings of satisfaction, job well done, if only in the tiniest work, so that I slip seamlessly into excellent sleep. Too many people out there have insomnia!”
Another way to journal is from wonderful Dr. Rachel Naomi Ramen, who counseled a successful but burned-out doctor in one of my favorite books, Kitchen Table Wisdom, to find again these three things in his days: what inspired him, what surprised him, what touched him. I’ve done this one for a long time, and it has transformed journal entries from junior high whining to memory rushes with sweetness.
And that, my dears, is what I want to take forward into this long day’s journey into night, into this particular new year in the journey, into aging, the only way forward in the journey: sweetness. What do you want?
Thank you. Ironic how tely this message
I like the ideas set forth by Baumeister and Ramen. If I spend too much time writing about bad feelings and complaints, a la Cameron, I can write myself into a nasty mood. Looking for something positive, writing a haiku, creating small art sounds helpful. Thanks for the links.
I want to try Dr. Ramen’s idea. What inspired, surprised, touched! I like that way of thinking. Many thanks for this idea.
Thanks for reminding us about Cameron’s “morning pages.” I fell off the wagon. I find that when I do that, it burns the irritations and petty thoughts off the top so I can focus.
This year I want to be faithful with a daily gratitude list. I find the gratitude list especially critical when I’m feeling scared about money or not feeling abundant. I list 10 things I’m grateful for today. On hard days it might be “I’m so grateful that I have food in the fridge. I’m so glad I have a nice home.” On better days it won’t be so “survival mode.” For me it’s important to write “I’m so thankful for,” or “I’m so grateful for,” on the front of each one. Not just the bare list. I find I need the repetitive gratitude expressions, especially when I’m faking it till I make it.
I then list 10 things I want to manifest. I’m so practical and “bottom line” that I have a hard time pretending they already exist. Yet I hear it’s the energy of it that’s important. So I write (with enthusiasm!) “I can’t WAIT until I pay off x debt.” or “The new and fun work opportunity is RIGHT around the corner.” or “It’s going to be amazing when I can choose to buy a new car!”
Perhaps if I do this daily, even when not freaked out about income, I’ll stay out of money fear!
Denice, I like what you said about Julia Cameron. You express it better than I did…it does burn off irritations and petty thoughts……
After 9 years of (mostly) daily Morning Pages, I’ve switched to Evening Pages. My head’s clear of the day’s toxicity so dreamland is sweet. In the morning, I list 5 things in my Gratitude Journal and it starts the day better. Regardless of what ends up on any of my pages, these daily bookends generate better moods, increased productivity, and overall better living. Nothing like shaking up old patterns!
Morning Pages don’t work for me — early morning, before I’m “tainted by the day” is when I do my best fiction writing. So I pour that onto the page first, and write my journal entries (which add up to more than three pages, usually) later in the day. But daily writing is important, I believe! 😉