Why I keep a journal
Every year I go through my fly fishing vest to reorganize, restock and clean out. The last thing I feel like doing at the end of a day on the water is dealing with the mess I’ve been creating, so you can imagine what it's like by the end of the season.
I’m starting fresh this year with a brand new vest and my plan is to break the cycle. I’ll let you know how that goes.
The things I find in this process don’t usually surprise me. Torn up flies, bits of line, snack wrappers and the usual rogue hook that stabs my finger and makes me say a bad word or two, are all the norm. Imagine my surprise when in a pocket I forgot was even there, I found a journal from the late 90’s.
One of my favorite things about fly fishing is that mid-afternoon break where to rest and take in the scenery, you sit on a log with your wader-clad legs floating in the river. That break usually includes a pen and paper with which I can capture everything inside and outside that seems noteworthy.
Reading my long lost journal was like opening a time capsule. I was instantly transported back to 1996 and the details of not only that particular day but my life and the lives of my loved ones as well. Apparently, the weather was perfect but the trout were winning. I was working on healing my heart and members of my family were transitioning in their relationships. I was at once reminded of how far I’ve come and how much has changed in the last twenty years.
While keeping a journal may seem like a chore, daily journaling actually has benefits way beyond remembering what trout fly you used to land a big one. Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, lists daily journaling as one of the practices proven to increase happiness. For me, writing about what I’m grateful for, what I’m feeling and where I am as it relates to my goals is enormously helpful. Not only can I look over journals and track progress, I’m also able to see where I’ve gotten stuck. Science shows that regular journaling can improve your immune system, reduce blood pressure and even Improve lung and liver function. Who knew?
Here are a few tips to get started.
- Choose a journal and writing instrument that you love. My favorite journal is this one from Field Notes. I actually went so far as to have a custom made, leather cover for it, which fits in my pocket and I’m rarely without. Because I enjoy writing with a really fine point, this pen from Pilot.
- Start small. Waking up and taking just ten minutes to write is a great way to start your day.
- Write whatever you feel like. Maybe you want to list things you're grateful for, something great that happened the day before or a hope for the day to come. Whatever it is, don’t judge it and let it flow.
- Be consistent. Set a goal of writing every day for two weeks and get a sense of how it impacts your life.
I hope you find journaling as enjoyable as I do and that the practice of getting it out on paper turns out to be a great addition to your day. A picture may be worth a thousand words but a handful of words can create a million pictures.