I have produced a journal which has taken a lot of effort, and clients and friends have been asking me why I bothered. I was asking myself the same question the 5th time I had to edit it!
It has been a laborious task, issues with editing, proofreading, printing, I could go on!
So why did I do it?
The answer to this question starts with the Masters degree in applied positive psychology and coaching psychology. I am studying and reading research which is full of interesting findings about how writing can help to increase well-being. Villa (2021) writes: “Committing to journaling regularly, and in a guided manner to focus on the principles of positive psychology, can help you reach your goals and boost your wellbeing. It can be as simple as journaling about the positive aspects of your day, about a positive memory, or things that make you happy.” I was interested in how just writing down a few key things about your day can have such a positive effect on the way we think and feel. We know that gratitude can produce a positive effect and there are thousands of gratitude journals available to help capture the imagination of those who want to try it. I wanted to go a step further than gratitude though. As much as research around gratitude practice is compelling, as a therapist and life coach for the best part of 20 years I also know learning about ourselves and keeping a record of the positive experience in our lives, reflection on those experiences, focusing on what inspires us, and the ability to become aware of patterns in our emotional reactions and behaviours is invaluable.
In my Self-Discovery Journal you will find page elements that will help you to record positive inspirations, focus on important tasks for the day, record your level of productivity and well-being and so much more. There is a section to complete in the morning and one for the afternoon (evening), and there is a full page for you to write down notes about your day and add in your gratitude practice should you wish to do so.
When I researched what was on the market I didn’t find anything else like it and I was determined to make it as easy as possible for people to start making changes by learning about what makes them feel motivated and what brings them joy.
So, the short answer to the original question is that I wanted to create something that would inspire, motivate and educate its users to get a better understanding of themselves and the positive aspects of their life.
How does it help though?
Another question from clients who were reluctant to try it and friends who are sceptical!
We know that writing about life goals (King, 2001) and writing expressively about trauma (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005) can have positive effects on psychological well-being. However, as Toepfer (2009) points out, most studies are based on writing about negative experiences. So, if writing about traumatic experiences can have a positive effect, then writing about positive experiences has got to be as, if not more effective… right?
Well, yes! In a study conducted by Burton and King (2004) the results showed that participants who wrote about intensely positive experiences (IPE), were less likely to get sick in the following months compared to the control group.
So, I wanted to produce a journal that sits somewhere in the middle. A place to record and write about everyday positive experiences. A place to rate your day, do some gratitude practice but also acknowledge the challenges you have faced and what you can learn from them – your AHA! moments if you will.
Finally, researchers have found that about 40% of happiness is accounted for by intentional activity, whereas 50% is genetic and 10% circumstantial (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005). This suggests efforts to improve our level of happiness may be best focused in the realm of intentional activity (Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2007). Completing a journal daily can be placed firmly in the category of intentional activity.
I am hoping my Self-Discovery journal is just the first in a series of journals and workbooks which will be tools to help my clients, and beyond, find meaning and thrive.
You can purchase my journal HERE.
If you feel like you might need external accountability and motivation then why not get in touch: book a FREE discovery call here
In the meantime follow me on social media!
Baikie, K., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(5), 338-346. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338
Burton, C. M., & King, L. A. (2004). The health benefits of writing about intensely positive experiences. Journal of Research in Personality, 38(2), 150-163.
King, L. A. (2001). The Health Benefits of Writing about Life Goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(7), 798–807. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167201277003
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of general psychology, 9(2), 111-131.
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The journal of positive psychology, 1(2), 73-82.
Toepfer, S. & Walker, K. (2009). Letters of Gratitude: Improving Well-Being through Expressive Writing. Journal of Writing Research, 1(3), 181-198.
Villa, G. Positive Psychology: 5 Key Concepts (and how journaling helps with intentional practice).