LifeJournal Newsletter – April 2014

I  always enjoy letting you know about opportunities to deepen and broaden your writing experiences and, again this month we bring you some great possibilities. I encourage you to try at least one!

The first article in this newsletter is about finding your way to your own brand of happiness through journal writing. (Happiness through writing–great concept, isn’t it?) The second article suggests a very practical and valuable writing tip.

I’d like to invite you to join an upcoming  online class or  an individual e-study course.  You’ll find that your writing will develop in new ways when you participate in these events.

Sign up for the e-study Emotional Balance Clinic.  When we write in journals to express our full emotions, does it help–or are we going in circles and digging a deeper rut? Here’s the answer that few people know: It all depends on how you write about your emotions. There’s an art and a science to writing to BALANCE your emotions and then to effectively carry the new perspectives into your everyday lives.

Psychologist and author Beth Jacobs, PhD
has created especially for us, an e-study course with a structured, practical set of materials–both based in science and based on her decades of clinical experience–to help you balance your emotions.

Whether your emotions feel out of control or if you are barely aware of them–and everything in between–you’ll learn and experience how writing helps with emotional issues.  If you would you like more information about journal writing and emotions, read an interview that I did with Beth by clicking:  No cost, just great information.

Enjoy the articles below and I encourage you to try one of these activities that will broaden and deepen your writing.

Write your story. Change your life!
Ruth

Ruth Folit
www.LifeJournal.com — LifeJournal Software
www.facebook.com/LifeJournalSoftware–click the LIKE button!

Have questions? Email rfolit@lifejournal.com; or, call 877-456-8762; or, go to the LifeJournal Support page.

PS Yes, our tried and true LifeJournal for Windows is still available to buy and to try, as well as our newer release, LifeJournal Online.  You can try it before you buy it!

PPS  If you have gmail, there is a new format with tabs which separates your email into primary, social and promotions.  If you want to find future LifeJournal newsletters more quickly, you may want to click and drag this email into your “primary” tab.

Finding your Way to Happiness Through Journal Writing

By Ruth Folit

When we’re honest with ourselves we understand that dealing with dilemmas, sticky situations, or problems are a way of life for everyone. No, my dear, there is no Mary Poppins where when we snap our fingers things happen in a split second, with an outcome exactly the way we want it.

We all are working on something whether it’s finding a partner; bettering existing family or work relationships; battling an addiction; developing a meaningful career; finding ways to earn more money; learning to relax; figuring out how to enjoy  retirment;  losing weight and improving health.  It’s a great pleasure on those occasions when things simply fall into place as we want, without much effort.

However, it’s all too easy to slip into the mindset:

I’ll be happy when…
or,
If only this aspect (my work, my health, my relationship, etc.) were right, my life would be perfect.

But usually when you do accomplish that one thing that is missing or that you long for, then the next issue pops up, and that becomes your focus of discontent. And then you may think, oh, everything will be fine once I get that problem solved. But, of course, from this vantage point we can see that this is an endless, infinite loop of not being happy in the present.  How to shift that perspective so that you can feel satisfaction and happiness right now? How can you see that when boulders are on the path, they aren’t blocking the path but ARE part of the path, and not be distressed by that?
Boulders are the trail

The first step is to simply acknowledge this perspective that there’s always something to work on.  Isn’t this part of why we are here…to overcome challenges, improve  ourselves, our family, our community? When we embrace this perspective, then on some level the problems/issues recede as “problems” and become just a part of your life without the value judgments of  “bad” or “wrong.” Sometimes the feelings of shame, disappointment, embarrassment and the second-guessing of would haves-should haves-could haves overshadow the conundrum you are facing. By shifting from resistance to acceptance you can move beyond those self-defeating feelings and focus on the challenges at hand.

There is always some sort (perhaps partial) solution possible, some way around or through your situation, even if it’s not what exactly what you may want. By facing and dealing with the situation creatively—perhaps dealing with it head-on, or side-stepping the issue and approaching it from a slightly different angle or perhaps shifting your beliefs— your life continues to improve incrementally.

The more you move forward with small steps of improvement, the more confidence you build, the more you can accomplish, the easier it is to face and deal with the next issue.  Here are some ways you can constructively use your journal to find your way to a better life scenario:

Brainstorm solutions.  Come up with a long list of ideas, perhaps some far-fetched and unlikely to succeed, but ones which may you a kernel of insight into possible solutions. Pick one solution that attracts you and break it down into small action steps.

Reframe the situation so you can see it from many perspectives. Answer questions, like how will I see this sitation in 3 years? How do the “other” players in this see this? When I look back on this situation when I am 80 years old, what will I think?

Keep track about what has worked and what doesn’t work—and use that as a tool to review. This is especially helpful if the problem is on-going, like working with a difficult person in a job that you like otherwise.

Express your emotions fully in writing ( perhaps some of the less socially acceptable ones–anger, frustration, grief, ) without harming relationships and without bottling feelings inside.

Write three things that went right today to remind yourself that things DO go right, and that you can focus on those things as well. When you’ve had a rough day, you can always go back to those pages of what went right today so that you can remind yourself that these setbacks are only temporary.

Keep a list of compliments which you can turn to when your self-doubt is rising.

©Ruth Folit

A Tried and True Journal Tip: The Fifteen Minute Habit

by Ruth Folit

I’ve been reading quite a few books recently and interviewing their authors for IAJW which discuss the importance of creating 15 minutes to work on your writing. 

One book approaches the subject from the neuroscience angle and another from how to overcome procrastination, and a third one is about how to write a first draft of a novel in 30 days. All three books strongly recommend that you get into a 15 minute habit daily of doing a writing related task whether it’s writing a journal entry; or doing research for a book; or “interviewing” a character in your novel; or free-writing ideas about the topic of your personal essay. 

The neuroscience books tells us that doing things regularly is a self-reinforcing principle.  Creating a habit physiologically builds up the myelin, the insulation around a neuron, which builds up the neuronal pathway so that the activity becomes easier and easier to do. The second and third book tells us that everyone can find 15 minutes a day to do a task that has meaning for you, AND you can accomplish a LOT in writing  just 15 minutes.

Try it and let me know how the 15 minute writing habit works for you!

The International Association for Journal Writing (IAJW) News 

Do you procrastinate? Our next IAJW telechat is Thursday, May 15 with Sam Bennett, author of Get It Done: From Procrastination to Genius in 15 Minutes a Day. Innovative, Interesting. Inspiring. Learn more here. IAJW members, sign up here.

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Our last months’ IAJW telechats were with Rosanne Bane, Denise Jaden,  Susan Borkin, Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada, Jules Evans, Gillie Bolton, James Pennebaker, and John Evans. IAJW members can listen to these telechats here.  Not an IAJW member yet? Sign up here. 

End Quotes

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”—Aristotle

“The habit of being happy enables one to be freed, or largely freed, from the domination of outward conditions.”—Robert Louis Stevenson

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