So glad you asked…

There are thousands of thoughts lying within us that we do not know until we take up the pen to write. As Oscar Wilde said in that famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest ‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train’

So, “why should I keep a journal?” you ask.

~Your children and grandchildren will want to read it. Perhaps that’s hard to believe right now for maybe your life seems quite ordinary and of little interest to anyone else. But, wouldn’t you be thrilled to find a journal written by your great grandfather about life in the 1800’s or your grandmothers take on her new purchase, the first washing machine? Such a peek at days gone by is fascinating. And so it is with you; when your grandkids or great grandkids are talking to people via hologram, they are going to be absolutely fascinated by your excitement of those ancient things like the I- Phone and Microwave oven. Share your thoughts and emotions of where you were when the World Trade Center was attacked or your experience driving your first hybrid car…… any and all pertinent events. While you may think that you’ll be able to remember everything clearly in the future, you won’t. It is said that by age 80, you will only remember the faintest outlines of the big occurrences in your life. Your journals will leave a legacy for your family.

~It can make sense of issues. After struggling with a choice and thinking long and hard about it, make a decision and then write down how and why you came to that decision. A journal can aid you in these dilemmas.  In time, if you start doubting the choice, you can look back, remind yourself of why you made that decision in the first place, and feel reassured.

It is a perfect tool to use if you find yourself in a funk and can’t seem to get out of it; look back through your journal to find the times when you were happiest.  Old journal entries can help you rediscover the kind of changes you need to make to get your life back on track….or simply to realize what a fool you were in your 20’s. Finally, simply writing about your feelings and frustrations helps you focus on what’s really going on in your life and in your head, so that you can come up with a solution to your problems.

~Journaling grants you immortality. Think of the billions of people who have and will perish from the earth without leaving a trace of themselves behind. They vanish into the ether, completely forgotten in the annals of history. A journal helps make you immortal. It is a tangible piece of evidence to leave behind that you were here! And who knows? Maybe the whole world might be interested in your musings someday. How many men were ignored in their lifetime, only to be celebrated after their death?

~It’s empowering.Philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “If you can change your mind, you can change your life” — and journal-writing can help you do just that. Writing about the ups and downs of your daily life can help you to get perspective on your experiences and find lessons in them. Keeping a journal is a constant and clear way to remind yourself that YOU — and nobody else — are the author of your own life story.

Whether you use your journal as some of us do, to simply keep grocery lists or your “to-do “list, or as a therapeutic catharsis, or to have the printed word to reflect over your past, it is for certain that journaling has become very popular. The most telling statistic on the popularity of journaling comes from notebook/journal manufacturers, who estimate that more than five million blank books are sold each year.

 

“I have all my life regretted that I did not keep a regular [journal]. I have myself lost recollection of much that was interesting and I have deprived my family and the public of some curious information by not carrying this resolution into effect.” Sunday, 20 November 1825,Sir Walter Scott

 

A Brief History of the Journal

What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it.” 

Sir Walter Scott.

letterpress notebooks

Journaling is not a modern phenomenon; there are recordings traced back to 55AD China. During the Renaissance period, the Western world began journaling regularly and the diary, began to have some literary value as the importance of the individual began to come to the fore. Ladies of the court in tenth century Japan used pillow books to record their dreams and thoughts with images and poetry. Throughout history, travel logs were also used as journals in both the Eastern and Western worlds. They were used to record details of places, people, navigational insights, botanical and other information. Since then it has often been used by the historian, not only as a supply of factual information, but as a picture of the daily life and personality of its writer.

The most poignant records of recent years was the wartime diary of Anne Frank. Broadly translated, it is one of the most widely read pieces of literature in history. It was begun when Anne was 13, just before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in a small apartment annex in the city of Amsterdam, and ended shortly after her 15th birthday, when the Nazis raided their hideout. After the war, her father, Otto, the only survivor in the family, decided to publish his daughter’s heart-rending diary. 

Distinguished diaries have also come from literary figures, such as Virginia Woolf and Emerson, religious leaders like Pope John XXIII, statesmen: George Washington, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson, and a host of nonpublic figures whose personal dramas have become historical classics. But diaries should not be seen solely as literature; as Henry David Thoreau once said, ”the journal is a record of experience and growth, not a preserve of things well done or said.” In studying the lives of great men, one might notice a common trait: they were all consistent journal writers. If it weren’t for their journals, we probably wouldn’t know much about their great lives and deeds.

In the 1960’s the idea of journaling really came into play, when an American psychotherapist, best known for his development of the Intensive Journal Method, began offering workshops and classes in a method  using reflective writing as therapy with the ultimate goal of psychological healing. It is believed that by recording and describing the significant issues in one’s life, one can better understand these issues and eventually diagnose problems that stem from them. Today that method has been taught to over 250,000 people.

Journal therapy has been used effectively for grief and loss; coping with life-threatening or chronic illness, repairing troubled marriages and family relationships; increasing communication skills; developing healthier self-esteem; getting a better perspective on life; and clarifying life goals.

Still, people journal for a variety of reasons; to record memories, to improve their writing, to develop self-discipline or help change bad habits, to reach new levels of self-discovery.  The reasons are endless, but overwhelmingly journaling gives people a space to develop their thoughts. The diary is, first and foremost, a psychological tool, an instrument for self-understanding. Those who recognize it as such look upon their journals as companions and confidants. Like a good therapist, the diary is the perfect listener.

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For information about the beautiful Italian journals available through Rossi 1931, visit www.rossi1931.com

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