How to Journal

Guest post from Michaela Renee Johnson:
I have always loved writing, especially as a way to process the depth of my emotions through difficult times. I still have my first journal, which I got in the third grade. It was included in a gift bag at a birthday party I attended. The notebook was tiny, maybe only three inches wide by four inches long, with multicolored paper and hearts on the cover. But I quickly understood that it could make a big impact on my life. It was a safe place to share my struggles with making friends at my new school and dealing with the woes of being an 8-year-old. My first journal became a friend in whom I could confide.
My journals, over the years, haven’t been just a place to share frustrations and worry, but also a place where I could share dreams, especially the ones I didn’t think others would understand. During challenging times, reading a great quote and writing in my journal became one of the most important ways to safely explore the change I needed, without the influence of others. My journals have always been a place where I could speak my truth freely, just having written it down allowed space for me to let it go and process things in a new way.
I started to realize that by journaling my goals and dreams, I could even change the direction of my life. Journaling became a tool to launch ideas and manifest my hopes. I eventually started an online journal, which became my memoir, Teetering on Disaster.
Needless to say, I was overjoyed at the opportunity to write Empowered, A Motivational Journal for Women when the publisher reached out to me I didn’t hesitate to say YES!
So many people say they want to journal, but have many reasons why it hasn’t made its way into their life.
“I don’t have the time.”
“I don’t know how.”
“I’m kind of afraid to sit and write.”
“I don’t write well.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“I’m not sure where to start.”
1. Find a journal with prompts to start, Empowered is a great example of that, but you can find some others here. If you are new to journaling it can be helpful to have guidance. Also the prompts can be exciting, for example, in Empowered, many of the prompts are creative and outside of the box. Law of Attraction Daily Journal, Gratitude Journal
2. If you want to start with a plain lined paper journal, that’s okay too. I recommend beginning by filling the pages with quotes that you absolutely love across the top. This puts “you” in your journal, and my experience is that when I finally go to fill a certain page, the quote that I’d already written was just the message I needed. Kind of like a blast from the past (or future).
Then, start by writing the weather…what was the weather like today? How do your emotions feel similar, or different? You’d be surprised how words can start to flow from there.
3. Get a great pen! There is nothing worse than a pen that cramps your hand instantly, or writes terribly, or leaks through the pages. I absolutely love LePen and Micron -Sakura of America.
4. Don’t hold yourself to a schedule. It can be lovely to do a daily gratitude journal in the morning, with an evening reflection. And while I highly recommend connecting with your journal daily, it’s more important that your journal be available for you when you need it, and less important that you judge yourself for whether or not you use it.
5. Don’t worry about the grammar, or the spelling, or even the way it looks. It can be helpful and fun to do a few journal entries with the lights down, simply for the experience of letting go of “how” it looks. We are taught all through school that we need to stay in the lines, and have proper grammar, those rules don’t apply in journaling. Think of it as an extension of your mind. Your mind allows thoughts to roll without censorship, allow your pen to do the same.
6. It can be helpful to start by writing a story. If you were to run into an old friend at a coffee shop 5 years from now what would the ideal story of your life be, what would it look like? Share that with your journal.
7. Ask yourself, if nothing changed today, would I be happy – share why or why not.
8. Lastly, go easy. Sometimes painful realizations come up when we have a safe space to process and discover our inner thoughts.
Sometimes the process to achieve our dreams may not feel comfortable. But I believe our greatest growth comes during times when we are uncomfortable—especially because humans are biologically programmed to notice when something doesn’t feel right and fix perceived problems. As you go through this journal, be aware that your mind is detecting these shifts, and will help you gather insight into what needs to change. Sometimes we can find ourselves being more aware of people and situations or processing things days after an activity. Give yourself grace to process, and practice good self-care, like getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and taking care of yourself. And remember you are exactly where you are supposed to be in this moment.
Michaela Renee Johnson is an award-winning author, licensed psychotherapist and host of the top iTunes podcast, Be You Find Happy, which encourages people to speak their truth with grace and live a courageous life of authenticity. Her initiative, Be You Find Happy, holds workshops and conversations on finding happiness in spite of life’s setbacks and has landed her speaking opportunities across the nation. She is an avid adventurer, having traveled to more than 20 countries, and self-proclaimed “Boho Mom” who loves all things metaphysical as well as poetic quotes. She is a Sagittarius and an ocean-lover who lives in Northern California with her husband and young son, and a homestead full of animals. In her spare time, she’s often hiking, doing yoga, gardening, golfing or reading.
Connect with her at or on Instagram @MichaelaReneeJ.

Defined by Nature: Planet Earth Habitant, Human, Son of Eladio Rodulfo & Briceida Moya, Brother of Gabriela, Gustavo & Katiuska, Father of Gabriel & Sofia; Defined by the Society: Venezuelan Citizen (Human Rights Limited by default), Friend of many, Enemy of few, Neighbor, Student/Teacher/Student, Worker/Supervisor/Manager/Leader/Worker, Husband of Katty/ Ex-Husband of K/Husband of Yohana; Defined by the US Immigration System: Legal Alien; Defined by the Gig Economy: Independent Contractor Form 1099; Studies in classroom: Master Degree in Human Resources Management, English, Chinese Mandarin; Studies at the real world: Human Behavior; Studies at home: Webmaster SEO, Graphic Web Apps Design, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Video Production, You Tube Branding, Trading, Import-Exports, Affiliate Marketing, Cooking, Laundry, Home Cleaning; Work experience: Public-Private-Entrepreneur Sectors; Other Definitions: Bitcoin Evangelist, Human Rights Peace and Love Advocate. Author of: Why Maslow: How to use his theory to stay in Power Forever (EN/SP); Asylum Seekers (EN/SP); Manual for Gorillas: 9 Rules to be the “Fer-pect” Dictator (EN/SP); Why you must Play the Lottery (EN/SP); Para Español Oprima #2: Speaking Spanish in Times of Xenophobia (EN/SP). Social Media profiles: Twitter/FB/Instagram/VK/Linkedin/Sina Weibo: @rodulfox
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