Oprah Winfrey hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show from 1986 to 2011. It was the most watched talk show in history and is well-known to anyone who had a North American television set at the time.
The “Queen of All Media”, a woman who built a brand far beyond television screens, was a force to reckon with in the 1980s and 1990s. She became a billionaire, was a respected philanthropist and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Oprah was so busy working towards these extraordinary accomplishments, she relied on a simple habit: journaling.
Journaling simply means to think about your life and write it down. That’s it. There is nothing more. The daily journal, despite its simplicity has been a crucial part of the lives of many talented people.
Journaling is a favourite habit of many writers, as you might imagine. From Virginia Woolf to Mark Twain, Francis Bacon and Joan Didion, John Cheever and Vladimir Nabokov. These artists were all known to keep a journal. Susan Sontag claimed once that her journal was the place she “created” herself.
Numerous brilliant thinkers and inventors have used journaling. Charles Darwin. Marie Curie. Leonardo da Vinci. Thomas Edison. Albert Einstein. History’s leaders and politicians have kept journals in some form or other throughout their lives. Marcus Aurelius, Winston Churchill and George Washington all kept journals in some way.
Why is it that so many of the greatest thinkers in history have spent their time journaling? What are the benefits of journaling?
What journaling can do for you?
Nearly everyone can benefit from writing down their thoughts. Journaling has many benefits that I cannot cover in this article, but let me share a few of mine.
Journaling allows you to draw new lessons from your past experiences. Virginia Woolf commented that she found the meaning in her journal entries often where she didn’t see it.
It’s a lot like reading through old journals. You can pick up new sentences and view the past in a completely different light. You are now re-reading your entire life story.
Journaling improves memory. Cheryl Strayed relied heavily upon her journal when she wrote Wild, her bestseller. She said, “My journal provided me with the who, what and how of my life at 26. It also offered me an honest and unvarnished portrait that I couldn’t find anywhere else.”
You may not notice that time changes your face, but it can also alter your thoughts. As we get experience, our beliefs change slowly. Journal entries can freeze your thoughts in the moment. It can be fascinating to see an old photo of yourself, as it can remind you of your past. However, it can also be surprising to read an old journal entry because it can remind you how you thought.
Journaling can help you make the most out of every day. Knowing that your day will be documented makes it easier to make at most one good decision before the sun sets. Sometimes I find myself thinking “I want something good to write tonight.”
You can keep track of your progress by journaling. Write down one sentence about the positive things that happened today. This will give you something to look back on when you feel down. It can be easy to forget the great things you’ve accomplished when you’re having a bad day. It’s much easier to maintain perspective when you have a journal. You can see how far you’ve come in just a few years by looking at your past entries.
Journaling has many benefits, but there is one problem.
Although many people love the idea of journaling it is not something that everyone sticks with. Although it sounds wonderful in theory, making journaling a daily habit is another matter.