I’ve kept a number of journals over the course of my life, each of which has filled a different niche and offered a slightly different enhancement for my daily life. Here are six types of journals that I’ve found particularly interesting or beneficial.
- Writing Journal
A writing journal is probably the kind of journal you think about if you’re imagining a generic journal. With my writing journal, I’ll record notable events during my day and my feelings and observations about them. My writing journal gives me a chance to process and reflect on daily comings and goings, which otherwise can fly by without much reflection.
- Dream Journal
Any time I have an interesting or noteworthy dream, the first thing I do upon waking is record it in as much detail as possible in my dream journal. The details and vivid ‘realness’ of a dream fades very quickly after waking, so for a dream journal to work you have to try to record your dreams before you forget the details.
I find that a helpful practice with a dream journal is to try to create categories and subcategories for dreams so that I can later group them by types. This lets me recognize any patterns or recurring themes in my dreams.
- Art Journal
Some people are word-based in how they interpret the world and express themselves. Others tend to be more image-based. As an alternative to the traditional written journal, I’ve tried an art journal, which offers a form of self-expression and reflection unlike that of a writing journal.
An art journal may contain written words, but it also consists of drawings, paintings, colors and shapes, photographs or any other form of non-verbal artistic expression. My art journal has allowed me to express feelings and thoughts that otherwise might have been difficult to put down on paper as words.
- Gratitude Journal
I find that two patterns it’s all too easy to get stuck in are dwelling on the negative and neglecting to appreciate all the good things and good people in my life. My gratitude journal is an antidote to both those unpleasant habits.
I’ll find a little time to make an entry of 10 events, people or circumstances I’m grateful for over the course of the day. Or maybe make an entry about one particular person for whom I’m extremely grateful over the course of the last week, or month, or even year. Making entries in my gratitude journal lets me accentuate the positive things happening in my life, and heightens my appreciation for the good people and circumstances I’m lucky to experience.
- Idea Journal
A journal that has certainly enhanced my life in the past is my idea journal. Whenever some idea or concept I think is worthwhile or interesting comes into my head, I make a note of it in my idea journal. Later, I can come back to the idea and flesh it out more fully if I so choose.
The idea journal lets me explore possible solutions to everyday problems, or evaluate an idea that might lead to a long-term change in my life. I’ll note good gift ideas for family members and friends if something causes me to think of something that they’d really appreciate, and then I can go back later when it comes time to get them a gift for a special occasion. Any kind of idea you want to return to later can go in an idea journal.
- Travel Journal
My travel journal has enhanced my memories of travel and holidays in a big way. Prior to keeping a travel journal, I found that sometimes I’d take a vacation and have few specific memories of all the enjoyment and relaxation I’d experienced. Everything would blur into a pleasant but non-specific haze.
Keeping my Jofelo travel journal has allowed me to preserve my experience. Even the act of writing locks those memories in, and referring back to what I’ve written years later can trigger specific happy memories of my travels.
Another nice feature of a travel journal is that it can be shared with family or friends to give them a little window into your travels, which can be both fun and also informative, potentially giving them some vacation ideas of their own.
These six journals have all, in their own ways, made a positive contribution to my life. Keeping journals allows me to live more deliberately and consciously, avoiding the temptation to drift through days and weeks without pausing to reflect on my experiences.