Welcome to our first newsletter for LifeJournal, the premiere journal writing software! This newsletter will be emailed monthly with tips about how to use LifeJournal, information about journal writing and journal writers in general, news about LifeJournal, and other things of interest to journal writers. You received this first newsletter because you have purchased LifeJournal or have downloaded the demo. We hope you enjoy it.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Making the Most of LifeJournal: Highlighting—Basics and Beyond
Highlighting is one of the most powerful features of LifeJournal. The purpose of highlighting is to be able to search your entries by topic and quickly and easily find the passages you have written about a specific topic.
Imagine you want to track an ongoing issue in your life, for example, your relationship with your father. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to quickly see what you’ve written about your father during the last six months and see more clearly how things have changed (or not!), how you have grown, what the repetitive dynamics are between you and your father, what sets you two off, or what reduces the tension between the two of you? Highlighting is the perfect tool to track themes over a period of time.
First, let’s quickly review the LifeJournal Topic feature. You can assign a Topic to an entire entry; this task is called bookmarking. To bookmark, open a Journal Entry and click on the Topic(s) in the Topics List on the right side of the screen. (If your Topic List isn’t displayed go to the View menu and click Topics List.) Remember to click on the Topic itself, not the Topic folder.
The Topic that you click, Father, will appear in the drop down box (the Topics Box) in the top right section of the Journal Entry window. There will be a small icon (that looks like a red ribbon bookmark in an open book) next to the word Father that signifies that you have written about the topic Father somewhere in your journal entry.
You may want to be more specific and tag exactly where in your journal entry you wrote about your father; this is called highlighting. To highlight, select the text (that is, click and drag your mouse over the section) and click the topic Father. Notice the icon to the left of the word Father in the Topics Box (top right hand section of the Journal Entry window). It is a highlighting pen that indicates that the topic Father is highlighted.
Notice also that the passage that has the topic assigned may at times be displayed in a different color. In the Daily Journal entry the highlighted passage is green; in the Dream Journal the highlighted passage is blue; in LifeHistory it’s brown. To see the highlighted passages of a particular topic (Father) in a journal entry, go the Topics Box in the top right corner of the Journal Entry and select the topic (Father). Any passages that have the topic (Father) assigned to them are displayed in the second color.
After writing in your journal for several months you may want to quickly find all the passages* in many entries that you have written (and highlighted) with the topic Father. To do this, open the Search dialog box by clicking the circular eye icon on the left of the LifeJournal window. The list of topics in the Search dialog mirrors the Topics List that you have created on the main LifeJournal screen. Click the “+” to the left of the Family folder. Then click the topic Father; a red check will appear. Also, check the box to the left of the words Retrieve only highlighted passages, which you find directly above the list of topics within the Search dialog box. Click the Searchbutton. A document will appear with only the highlighted passages about Father, displayed in reverse chronological order. The titles and dates of the entries that the passages are excerpted from are also displayed. Double click on any text within the document and the entire associated journal entry will appear.
After reading the highlighted passages, I suspect you may gain some insights about the topic that you researched. I recommend that you write your insightful reactions to the document that appears—your feelings as well as your thoughts—and highlight that passage and assign the appropriate topic(s). You may even want to create a new topic called Insights, and assign it to that passage as well as the topic Father. As you continue to have insights concerning your father and write about them, assign two topics Insights and Fathers to these passages. Then, next year, do a search for entries with both topics Father and Insights, and the document that appears will take you one step further, showing you the insights that you have gleaned about your father.
*Note, of course, that you may not want to highlight EVERY passage that you write about your father, but only those that might offer insight or meaningful information.
Write about deep and meaningful stuff and stay healthier!
James W. Pennebaker, PhD has done a lot of research about writing and the effect it has on the health of writers. He conducted experiments that assigned college students who had volunteered to be a part of the study to write for 15 minutes on four consecutive days. Each student was randomly assigned to only write about (1) something superficial, (2) the facts of a traumatic event, or (3) his/her emotions related to a traumatic event. Pennebaker then tracked the number of visits each group made to the university health clinic during the four months after the four days of writing. Those in group # 3 went to the health clinic HALF as often as the students who just wrote about superficialities or just the fact of the traumatic events. Those who expressed their emotions stayed noticeably healthier than the other two groups for up to four months after the writing!
Wanting to create a follow-up study that would either further support or refute this first study, Pennebaker’s next study had volunteer college students divided into the same three groups, as above. This time, he measured the immune function of the writers. He took blood samples of the writers before they started the writing days, after the last day of writing, and again six weeks after writing. The results backed up the first study: People who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feeling surrounding traumatic events they had experienced showed stronger immune function compared with those who wrote about more superficial topics. Pennebaker and other researchers have shown again and again that writing about emotional upheaval improves physical health. It doesn’t have to be about the most traumatic event in your life, but among other things, focus on the important issues that are current in your life.
In the next newsletter I’ll let you know about other benefits of journal writing. For those hungry for information now, consider purchasing Opening Up: the Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, by James W. Pennebaker at Amazon.com.
ALWAYS and NEVER.
These are words of absolutes. I find that when I am using them often I am feeling a little out of control and off-center, losing my perspective, and perhaps, moving toward rigidity, rather than fluidity. Here’s an idea: Do a search (one at a time) for the words always and never.
Here are the steps do a search for the word always:
What entries come up? Do you see any patterns? Are there clusters (in time) of entries that appear with these words? What was going on in your life that you used these words? Did certain topics often appear associated with that word? Do these words rarely appear? Does this indicate anything about your viewpoint in life at the moment that you are writing?
Mailbag: How to enter Daily Pulse if you have missed a day.
Q: I was away from home for a few days and couldn’t write in LifeJournal. Now that I’m back at my computer I’d like to go into those days and record my daily pulse. What do I need to do to “make up” for back dates?
A:. Go to the Features menu>Daily Pulse>Add or Edit entry for past date. A dialog box will appear allowing you to choose the date you want to enter the Daily Pulse. Select the date and a Daily Pulse dialog box will appear. Enter the appropriate information and click the OK button.
The Daily Pulse is a good way to stay current with your journal writing, even if you can’t write a more complete journal entry. Make a note of your Daily Pulse ratings, either in your LifeJournal program or on paper. You can always go back and fill in the gaps, so that you’ll be able to note trends and remember what was going on during that those days that you couldn’t write much. Use the Notes on the Daily Pulse to make brief notations of the highlights of your day so that you can go back and write more, if you choose.
To purchase LifeJournal:
Chronicles Software Company
PO Box 220
Sarasota, FL 34230
Happy and healthy journaling!
The purpose of this newsletter is to help LifeJournal writers become more aware of the ins and outs of the program, as well as to learn more about journal writing in general. We are always interested in serving you, a member of the LifeJournal community, so please send us email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, and suggestions about the newsletter or about the program, in general. We’re here for you!