LifeJournal™ Newsletter – February 2003

This marks the second anniversary of our LifeJournal newsletter. During the past two years we’ve covered a wide array of topics related to journal writing and particularly the LifeJournal program. It’s been very rewarding; we’ve gotten plentiful praise that the newsletter has been extremely helpful and we’ve enjoyed writing it. We have more than 5,000 subscribers now. Please tell your journal-writing friends about our newsletter, as well as about LifeJournal. Word of mouth is a powerful force!

We look forward to creating another set of newsletters this year to help you and your journal writing grow! As always, send us a note if you have questions, concerns, suggestions, or compliments. We take your feedback seriously.

Please take a moment to complete the survey that we have on The results of last month’s survey are reported below

Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software Company

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Reference Guide for Assigning Topics: Making Full Use of LifeJournal
Tip: Finding Seeds in your Journal
Results of the January Survey 
Endquote: From Dancer Martha Graham
How to Purchase LifeJournal

Reference Guide for Assigning Topics: Making Full Use of LifeJournal 

In recent conversations with LifeJournal writers, I was surprised to learn that some people aren’t fully using the most powerful part of the program–assigning topics. The ability to assign a topic to the journal entry or to a passage of a journal entry is critical to quickly finding past journal entries. It helps organize your writing with very little effort so that when you are looking for a set of writings about particular subjects you can find them instantly

Below is a reference guide to using the Topics Feature.

Q. Why assign topics to journal entries?

Assigning topics organizes your writing, making it easy to retrieve specific information scattered throughout your journal.

Q. How do you assign topics?

You assign topics by clicking on a Topic in the Topic List when the journal entry is open and active. (An “active” entry means the current journal entry, which also means that there is a blinking cursor in it.)

Q. Can I assign a topic to the whole entry as well as to portions of an entry?

Yes. To assign a topic to the whole entry, have the journal entry open and active and click a Topic in the Topic List. That is called bookmarking a journal entry. If you want to assign a topic to a passage of text, select the text by clicking and dragging your mouse over it and then clicking a Topic in the Topic List. That is called highlighting a journal entry.

Q. Can I assign more than one topic to a journal entry or passage of a journal entry?

Yes. Simply click on more than one topic in the Topic List and those topics will be assigned to the journal entry or the passage of text.

Q. How do I know which topic(s) I’ve assigned to a journal entry?

In the top right corner of every journal entry, there is a drop down box (the Topics Box) that initially displays “Show None.” If you click the drop down arrow next to the box, it will display all the topics assigned to that journal entry. A bookmark icon will be adjacent to the topic listed if the topic has been assigned to the entire journal entry. A highlight icon will be appear next to the topic listed if the topic has been assigned to a passage.

Q. In a journal entry, how can I see which passages of text were assigned a particular topic?

If you select a topic that has a highlight icon in the Topics Box drop-down list, the passage(s) of text that has been assigned to a topic will change to a different color. If you are having difficulty seeing the text change color, you may want to enlarge the font size.

Q. When should I assign topics to a journal entry? 

It’s best to assign topics to a journal entry after you have finished writing it. Write your journal entry without thinking about topics. Then, before you close the entry, go back and determine which topics you wrote about. Also, look carefully at what you have written. Highlight passages that you think will be worth re-reading in the future. Select those valuable passages and assign topics to them. You can, of course, re-read journal entries that you have written at any time and assign topics to them.

Q. Now that I’ve assigned the topics to journal entries, how do I utilize that information? What is the best use the assignment of topics in re-reading my journal?

Assigning topics to journal entries allows you to quickly find a set of journal entries and passages from journal entries that you have written. Using Topics you find clues to help understand yourself better; be able to organize your writings, grouping passages of related ideas together to find a coherent whole; and get perspective on your thinking or behavior on a particular issue over time. Below are several examples of how Topics can be used.

(1) Every time that you have a conversation with your client, say Lois, you create a daily journal entry and assign the topic “Lois” to it. Before your next appointment with her, perform a search for the topic “Lois.” You will have a list of all your journal entries that you can then open and read, documenting the history of your prior discussions with her.
(2) As a stand-up comedian you create your jokes using the material of everyday life. At the end of your day you record some of the absurdities of the day and the humorous situations that you find yourself in. After you finish writing the entry, you select the text of the appropriate portion and assign the topics “comedy” and “driving” or perhaps, “comedy” and “in-laws.”

Weeks later when you are putting together a routine, you may want to perform a search selecting “comedy” and “driving”. Also, select the “Retrieve highlight only” checkbox above the list of topics in the Search dialog. A document will appear with a listing in reverse chronological order of all the highlighted passages that have both those topics (comedy and driving) assigned to them. That will serve as the beginning of a comedy routine.

(3) You are beginning to think that things are going sour between you and a good friend. You are not sure how long this situation has been going on, and you’d like a little perspective. Perform a search with the topic “Danny” and with your Daily Pulse Mood level less than five. Are there many journal entries that fit these search criteria? Do the entries that are in the list occur within a short time period? Is your interaction with Danny why you are in a bad mood, or are there other factors? Perhaps do a follow-up search, including the topics “Danny” and the entire “feelings” folder. What feelings predominate in this list of entries? Over what time period?
(4) You have been working really hard to improve your relationship with your colleague, John. After a particularly rough day at work you wonder if things are ever going to get better, or if you want to look for a different job. Do a search for “John” and check the box above the Topics list in the Search dialog that says, “Retrieve highlighted passages only.” Perhaps you can gain perspective about the relationship: for example, has your interaction with John been consistently difficult, or can you discern a way to improve the relationship?

Tip: Finding Seeds in your Journal

I found the earliest journal of mine that I still have: a 5 by 7 inch spiral notebook with a dull tan cover; it cost 29¢. The spiral is now rusty and the pages have yellowed. The first dated page is March 12, 1973, when I was in college. In September a new semester had just begun and I was writing journal entries about once or twice per week. I had written on September 7, 1973:

“thought about having a notebook–not only for school–but for entire semester–integrate school into my life–like a composition notebook for a month or so until I need a new one. Write journal, dreams, notes for classes, notes to myself, etc. Main problem is the order would be chronological, and therefore very hard to go back and find anything by the topic. But I like the idea. Maybe I can think of something.”

There it was almost thirty years ago: the seedling of LifeJournal. In my case, the seed lay dormant for about 25 years before it sprouted.

One could, perhaps, take a more active role in cultivating seedling ideas by going back through journals and finding those frustrating situations that we all have during the course of a typical day. Inventors have a knack for turning irritations and imperfect scenarios into new tools that solve problems. You can facilitate the process by searching your journal: look for such words as “problem,” “frustrating,” and “irritation” or key words of your own. You will instantly find scenarios in need of “a better way.”

Results of the January Survey

Sixty-eight people responded to the January survey that focused on questions relating to how you felt after writing an emotional journal entry. The majority (59%) felt much better soon after writing an emotional entry; many (34%) felt slightly better; 3% felt no difference; 3% felt slightly worse; no one felt much worse and 3% didn’t know if they felt any different.

A day or two after writing an emotional journal entry, 45% of respondents report that they felt much better, 42% said they felt somewhat better; 10% said they felt no different; no one felt slightly worse or much worse; and 3% reported they didn’t know if they felt any different. In summary, the results show that the vast majority of people felt immediately better after writing in their journal as well as a day or two after writing.

Most people (71%) did not feel the need to contact the other person about whom they were writing. However, among those who did contact the other, 67% reported that change did occur as a result of the contact, and 100% of those felt that the change was for the better.

We also asked people to report their Myers-Briggs Personality type. Myers-Briggs Personality test is based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung. The criteria for classification looks at four elements of a personality:

  • The primary source and direction of energy expression–extroverted (E)(energy mainly toward the outside world) and introverted (I) (energy mainly in the interior world)
  • The preferred method of perception–sensing (S) (gathering information from the external world) orIntuitive (N) (gathering information from the internal imaginative world)
  • The principal method of processing information —thinking (T) (making decisions primarily through logic) or feeling (F) (making decision primarily through feeling)
  • The primary method of implementing the information judging (J) (in an organized and planned manner) or perceptive (P) (in a spontaneous and impromptu manner).

Among the 70 people who responded to the survey, the most reported personality types were ISFJ, INFP, INFJ, INTJ, and ISFP. The most dramatic differences between complementary criteria (that is E or I, S or N, F or T, and J or P) were between the number of extroverts and introverts. There were about four times as many introverts than extroverts who responded. The next biggest difference between complementary criteria was the judging and the perceiving people. There were almost two times the amount of judging vs. perceiving types who responded to the survey. There were only two personality types that did not respond to this survey: ESTP and ISTP. 

End quote: From Dancer Martha Graham

From dancer Martha Graham, to dancer and choreographer Agnes DeMille:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open…no artist is pleased…there is no satisfaction at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.”

How to Purchase LifeJournal

  • Order online at
  • “Order by telephone: toll free 1–877–456–8762 from 9 am to 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday.
  • Order by postal mail and pay with a check or money order payable to:Chronicles Software Company
    PO Box 220
    Sarasota, FL 34230

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