Rethink Journaling Challenge
Bullet, Gratitude, Positivity. These days, there’s a journal for everything that’s going to help us live our best lives. But where do you even start? If you’re like the many who use January as a reset button, help is here. The journaling newbies at Rethink tested out some popular options and are weighing in below.
Here’s what worked and didn’t when it comes to journaling.
Position: Digital Marketing Manager
Type of Journaling: Positive Journaling
What I liked: At first blush, positive journaling may sound suspiciously similar to gratitude journaling. Both forms call for a positive shift in emotions. However, unlike gratitude journaling, you have the freedom to write through the lens of more emotions like joy, serenity, interest, hope, pride, awe and love. As other breast cancer survivors can attest, putting on a veil of positivity comes part and parcel with your new normal. Whether self-imposed or not, convincing others you’re back to normal becomes part of your everyday life once active treatment finishes. So, I was hesitant to take this on, as forced positivity was the last thing I wanted to embark on in my journaling practice. Luckily, positive journaling is not that. It gives you the freedom to write what feels natural. For example, if I was feeling super drained after a particularly brisk and gloomy commute home, rather than forcing myself to search for the joy in the Toronto slush, I could think about that time I rode a bike down a volcano in Bali. This form of journaling allowed me to bring positive emotion to the forefront of my experience in a way that felt genuine and honest.
What I Stumbled On: This type of journaling is almost too flexible, making the choice of what to write about a bit burdensome. Thinking about what I was going to write about each day, albeit freeing, meant it took more time to focus on what direction to take for each new entry.
The Verdict: Because there wasn’t the expectation of making an entry every day, I was able to journal consistently without completely falling off the wagon after missing a day or two (my usual go-to move). Ultimately, I believe journaling improved my overall mood. Even on my grumpiest days, this new habit brought a feeling of contentment to the forefront of my thoughts, empowering me to savour the good feels instead of letting the bad ones take over completely. So yes, I hope to fill many pretty journals with my positive vibes in 2019.
Rethinker: Nicole Aarssen
Position: Social Media Strategist
Type of Journaling: One Line A Day
What I Liked: What I like about my “One Line A Day” Journal is the low amount of energy and effort required. Yes, I am a millennial. But I’ll admit that at the end of some more taxing days, even that one little line didn’t get done – oops! But my favourite aspect of this journal is that it has space for one line per day for the next five years, so I will be able to reflect back on what I did on that day in the future. It’s sort of like those reminders on Facebook about what you did on that day back in 2013, but not just a baby-faced photo.
What I Stumbled On: While synthesizing my day down to the most memorable moment(s) makes journaling as easy as possible, I am aware that it is somewhat superficial as there is no opportunity (well, no space!) to dive deep into more nuanced thoughts and emotions. But realistically, I wasn’t journaling at all before, so this is better than nothing! The Verdict: I plan on keeping this up! I am most looking forward to being able to reflect back in one, two, and five years to see what I was up to on that same day a couple years ago.
The Verdict: I plan on keeping this up! I am most looking forward to being able to reflect back in one, two, and five years to see what I was up to on that same day a couple years ago.
Rethinker: Tania Kwong
Position: Director, Marketing + Communications
Type of Journaling: Daily gratitude list
What I Liked: Ever since Oprah waxed poetic about a daily gratitude journal in the 90s, I was romanced by the idea. With the intention of switching your focus to what you have vs. what you don’t, the idea really appealed to me as someone who tends to default to my future self/life a lot. I’ve been doing a mental checklist version of three things I’m grateful for daily, and while I’m not 100 percent consistent, I still reap the benefits of being present and living in the moment while doing so.
What I Stumbled On: Since I don’t use a physical journal, I have no way of reminiscing about past gratitude entries and I probably repeat myself more often than not. For example, I’m awfully grateful for the funny small things my daughters’ do on the daily.
The Verdict: I will continue to gratitude-check myself every day and might also add a written element to get the full effect. There’s an Instagram meme that I find perfectly speaks to how I feel about gratitude that says: Remember when you wanted what you currently have? I find the process of reflecting to be very liberating and also empowering in that I will always look for the good bits.
Rethinker: Shawna Rich-Ginsberg
Position: Senior Manager, Support & Education
Type of Journaling: The lived experience kind.
What I Liked: The idea of journaling. It is romantic and practical at the same time. I also like how it is an analogue trend in a world of digital obsession.
What I Stumbled On: I have tried different forms of journaling at different points in my life. I can see why people use it as a form of creative expression, organization and therapy but for me it became a burden. One more thing to do in the chaotic life of a person whose plate is often overflowing between work, kids, friends and now a Masters degree. I remember when my first son was born, I eagerly bought one of those old school baby books so I could keep tabs on every milestone of his development and mine as a mother. Then I would miss entries and feel badly that there might be gaps in his life when he was older. There is an unspoken pressure of having to chronicle our lives, which can take the enjoyment out of the moment. I think social media (a digital form of journaling) is guilty of that.
The Verdict: I can see for some that journaling is a therapeutic form of expression and I envy that! There is something very liberating about getting your thoughts out, on paper without scrutiny or judgment. I still remember being a teen furiously writing in my diary like no one was watching but it was also a perfect marriage of time, creative thinking and expression. I think we really have to work hard to marry those things as adults and it requires carving out space in our hectic lives.
“Freedom is…the right to write the wrong words.” ― Patti Smith
Still on the fence about whether or not you’ll start a journalist habit of your own? Here’s Rethinker Sylvia Soo’s take on what journalist adds to her life.