Getting personal and a little scientific here…
Once our basic three needs are met (and often even when they’re not), there exists within the human species a hard-wired desire to pursue happiness. For me, happiness has always been inextricably linked with creativity, the two enjoying a direct relationship. The happier I am, the more creative I am. Or more metaphysically speaking, the happier I am, the more open I am to inspiration and creativity. As if joy, laughter and contentedness can fine-tune the antennae that allow inspiration to be channeled from the Creative Source.
There are myriad studies and books that link journaling to happiness. Turns out journaling is a powerful tool that not only unsticks the blocked Creator but also increases happiness. Turns out it’s not just for junior high girls.
Like Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” which pours on and on about wonders of journaling, I make regular “artist’s dates” (read the book or infer as you will), and keep “morning pages,” where I write, first thing, every day. The practice, Cameron insists, is not just for the writer. Any “artist” — be you painter, screenwriter or photographer — will benefit from getting the “juices flowing.” I can attest to this. When I’m on it, I’m ON it creatively.[aside, I use Evernote for my journaling – allows me to pull my journals up anywhere, computer, ipad, iphone…]
But the other benefit of regular journaling, it turns out, is an elevated mood. University of Hertfordshire psychology professor Richard Wiseman wrote the research-backed “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” which boils down peer-reviewed scientific studies on happiness into an entertaining, simple reduction. Ultimately, journaling distils into five main types, the conjunction of which can have a profound impact on one’s happiness:
1) Expressive Writing. Put your feelings down on paper and watch your self-esteem grow and your smile widen.
2) Gratitude Journaling. There’s been plenty of this bandied around the web recently, and for good reason. Spend 15 minutes listing that which you are grateful for.
3) Describe your Perfect Self. Recall a time in your life when everything just…clicked. That amazing experience. A high point in your happiness history.
4) Affectionate Writing. Now this one is win-win: Write to a person you love or care about and tell them how much they mean to you and why.
5) Progressive Review. Make a record of all that is going well in your life. Note the progress you’ve made towards goals you have set. Don’t dwell on the obstacles — focus on the breakthroughs.
Sure, it’s becoming a challenge to fit into each day all the stuff we should do. Between the daily exercise, yoga, meditation and to-do listing it’s hard enough to find time for the 9-5 stuff that MUST get done. But the rewards of happiness — as opposed to the age-old mentaility of the tortured, brooding artis — are too substantial — and immediate — to be ignored.
Try it for yourself. Write for 10 minutes everyday next week and let me know how it goes.