How did you spend your day yesterday? When was the last time you went to see a movie? Can you remember the plot line? What did you do on your last vacation? Did you enjoy a particular meal, or visit a special tourist site that meant something special to you? While none of the answers to these questions matter in the overall scheme of life, they are a part of your life, and may very well matter to you at some point in time.
Learning to journal our experiences, and the special events in our lives can teach us about the fluidity of daily situations, how they fit together, and how they impact each other. Through journaling our experiences we can make connections to and through the flow of our lives. Perhaps as a child you always spent Thanksgiving at your grandparents' house, saw aunts, uncles, cousins and assorted friends and neighbors around the holiday table. Although you enjoyed the experience, each Thanksgiving as an adult has a certain poignancy about it on which you just can't place your finger. Taking time to journal through the next Thanksgiving Day, the day after the festivities are complete, may help you make connections about your present feelings and how they are associated with the holiday. Did you have people come to your home this year, or did you visit someone else's home? Or maybe you gathered friends together and celebrated at a favorite restaurant, then came home for dessert. Was the day relaxed or stressful? Was the weather warm and bright, or cloudy and damp? Were you excited about the day, or dreading it for weeks prior? Now, you can start with these most recent experiences of the holiday, comparing and contrasting this day with all those yesterdays, remembering as much about those earlier holidays as possible, and see how the connections of feelings, thoughts and experiences reveal themselves to you. Connect your present to your past, fill in the blanks, and through the process you will come to understand and enjoy your life more fully.
When we talk about our days as a series of vignettes gathered into a group that create the whole, we begin to also see the weeks, months and years, and our lives, as woven together into a cohesive pattern, rather than time that has slipped through our hands like so much sand on a beach. We often wonder where time goes. In journaling your daily experiences you can see it all laid out before you with as much detail as you choose to embody it. Take a few moments and jot down everything you did yesterday. My guess is that you will discover some surprises in how you use your time, and in how you view the way you use your time. What have you automatically deleted from the list before your pen touched the page? How do you feel about your accomplishments? What would you like to exchange out as a "do over" for next time? How honest have you been with yourself about the events that are now part of your personal history?
Beyond getting you in the groove of recognizing how you manage your time and personal resources, journaling your daily life is effective in showing you parts of your life, in your own words, parts of your life of which you may not even be aware. Things like behavior patterns, personal preferences, relational triggers, what you avoid and what you embrace, are all issues that can arise and be tracked when you regularly journal your experiences. Thinking about your job after you leave work is almost inevitable, especially if you are unhappy with your circumstances or irritated with your co-workers. Sometimes the people we live with, love them though we do, are annoying, cranky and intrusive. Or, perhaps, it's all in our perception. When you write out these scenarios of the thorns that are perpetually in your side, you either begin to get really sick of hearing yourself repeat the same theme over and over, or you begin to recognize the patterns creating your responses, and you see how you can make different choices to create the reality you want. Journaling draws us to consciousness, which leads us to making our lives better places, if we want them to be.
The practice of growing familiar with regular journaling will serve you well in many ways. Vacations, special dinners, historical sites, and personal adventures, can be recalled and relived when written about as part of your daily life, or as individual vignettes to be cherished on their own. Journaling the experiences and events of your life is a tangible way to remember how well you have lived, and how well-lived you plan your present and future to be. Journaling affirms for each of us that we can only live our own life, so we may as well have a good, conscious time doing it.