(Not THAT F-word, silly rabbit, different ones!)
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Have you noticed journaling is super-duper having a moment right now? I’m not surprised. For me, journaling yields a ton of benefits. Self-awareness, better health, improved finances, and increased contentment, for instance.
Some people get fancy and sophisticated with it, but because KISS—Keep It Simple, Silly—is one of my life philosophies, one-dollar spiral notebooks from The Dollar Store suit me just fine as long as they’re in pretty colors like sunny yellow or spring grass green. If you’re brand new to journaling, take my hand. I’ll show you around.
F-Word #1: Feelings
For as long as I can remember, I’ve journaled my feelings, not daily but often, sorting out on the page my opinions regarding various life situations. Usually after a break-up, or a life change such as transitioning from junior high to high school. As such, my early journals contain much whining—i.e. “Why does everyone call my BFF Laura Jane “beautiful” and me “cute?”— and some atrocious poems.
F-Word #2: Food
Because it is so effective, at least once a year I keep a food diary for a day or three. I’m actually doing it right now in order to avoid the need for Spanxx at the upcoming Listen to Your Mother Pittsburgh show.
Journaling your food and beverage intake should be the first course of action when you have to lie on your bed to button your jeans. When recording intake, I suggest these categories:
- What you ate (and how much)
- When you ate it
- Why you ate it
This will show where things went awry. With my first food diary I discovered two problem areas: snacking as I prepared dinner and eating after seven p.m.. For me, changing those behaviors brought quick results.
In Cincinnati, I worked with a gal who figured out beer consumption led to her chub factor. And daily restaurant lunches. She stopped those two activities (for Lent that year) and lost 12 pounds.
Also, if you find yourself chowing down outside of meal times, ask yourself why. Did you not eat enough protein at the last meal? Do you snack due to boredom? Perhaps you’re keeping someone company when they eat? Maybe you’re “cleaning the kids’ plates” because “Children are starving in Africa!”
Not only do you discover eating errors, the very act of recording consumption can cause you to limit it. Win!
F-Word #3: Finances
Years ago, Tony Bear and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program. Ever since then, I have said, thank you, Jesus, for Dave Ramsey, almost every week. To read more about our Financial peace experience, click here.
Initially, Dave has you record every penny your household spends for one month. Prepare to say, “Ouch!” Like a food diary, it reveals your problem areas. It drasticaly curtailed our use of ATM and credit cards. It also taught us to pay with cash as often as possible because emotionally, it’s harder to part with. Within a year or two, our only debt item was our mortgage. Sing with me now: Glory, glory, hallelujah.
Like us, you might expect operating within the constraints of a budget to feel like money jail. Wrong. It’s more like getting a ginormous raise!
I haven’t kept a spending journal in forever, but occasionally I do repeat one trick Dave teaches. Examine your checkbook register, online banking account, or credit card statement. These documents reveal “where your treasure lies.” For instance, if you looked at our checkbook, mostly my domain, you’d see lots of entries for City Church, Amazon, and Sephora. Shhh! Don’t tell Tony.
F-Word #4: Faith
I could’ve titled this section, “gratitude” or “blessings,” but I was trying to keep to the F-word theme. And just so you know, I am not a cusser. Ever since I came to faith, I can count on one hand, well, maybe I’d need an extra finger or two, the times I’ve said a bad word. This is significant because the real F-word? I used to not make it a day, hour, paragraph without blurting it. But I digress…
A few years back, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts changed my life. A friend challenged Voskamp to record a thousand blessings. Once she hit a thousand, Ann realized she’d transformed into a woman of profound gratitude so she kept going.
To test her process, I bought myself a blessing book. So far, I’ve filled up four or six of them. I’ve also given several to friends. If you want one, let me know down in the comment section.
People, it works! Counting your blessings absolutely adjusts your attitude in a
good great way. If you’re like me, when you thumb through dozens of pages filled with the beautiful things you notice daily, you’ll feel rich. When difficult circumstances come, and they always do, I no longer freak out. I think, yes, this crisis inhales oxygen with great force, but overall, I’ve been given so much. My life is way more beautiful than awful.
After months of recording “God Kisses,” I noticed something. I had started searching for things to record. I began to not only look for the good, but also to expect it. I’m pretty sure this practice will make any negative Nancy or Sad-Sack Sally do a U-turn.
If you’re unsure what to jot down, here are some of my recent entries:
- The gorgeous fragrance of lilies-of-the-valley
- The velvety sensation of swallowing a gulp of vanilla breve
- Reading my friend Jim Minick’s fantastic new novel: Fire Is Your Water
- Rusty the Roofer and his guys saying I remind them of Goldie Hawn
Whether you try your hand at journaling in one or all four of these areas, I believe you’ll be pleased with the results. Journaling can divulge why you feel the way you do, why the number on your scale is not ideal, and why your money is like sand in a sieve. Even better, it can illuminate how very blessed you are. Try it. You’ll like it!
What about you? What’s your journaling process, if any?