Sometimes when I feel like I’m moving too fast or running on autopilot, I like to stop and get back on track. One of my favorite ways to reawaken myself to my own life and purpose is to get out my journal and write about what I would do that day if I didn’t have to do anything. I might also write about my ideal day, or maybe just list 20 or so things that I love to do and remind myself to build my life around those.
A lot of people think they’d lay around and watch TV all day if they didn’t have to do anything, and that may be true, but everyone is passionate about something. People need to actually do things to be happy. If you don’t know what you like to do, you might want to start there.
My day usually involves reading, writing, making art, taking walks, and spending time with my husband. Pretty simple. Some days I feel like going on an adventure and some days I’d rather curl up with a blanket and a Tracy Chevalier novel. Still, playing this little game helps me reassess what I’m doing and whether it’s getting me where I need to go. We should enjoy our lives. It’s not all fun and games; we all have things that need to get done that we’d rather not do, but the bulk of our lives should be enjoyable.
Find out what you love most and build your life around that. Use your “ideal day” writing as a compass.
Today, if I didn’t have to go to work, I’d go for a walk, work on some new paintings, prepare two of my paintings for an upcoming juried show, read a little, write in my journal, and go for a walk in the evening. Maybe a picnic with my husband. That’s actually what I’m planning to do today, more or less, just with my regular workday in the middle.
What would you do today, or on your ideal day? What do you love to do more than anything?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Actually, I’ve always been a writer. Short stories, poetry, a play, magazine articles, travel writing, blogging, you name it. I’m even editing my first novel. Sometimes about pouring myself out on the page feels so right to me. My thoughts flow better with a pen in my hand.
I thought I’d share part of my Relief Society lesson from yesterday. Relief Society is a women’s organization in my religion that meets every Sunday during church. We discussed one of the steps of a church sponsored addiction recovery program, which is to truthfully write about our lives so we can better understand our struggles and their roots. This recovery program suggests writing your life story from start to finish so you can see patterns in the big picture.
I’ve kept a journal for years, and it’s been my go-to tool for getting to the bottom of what ails me. I have a plastic tote box under my bed full of my journals from high school on, and another shelf in my studio groaning under the weight of my “commonplace books” which also serve as journals. Writing is a fabulous tool, and different writers can use it in different ways for different purposes. It’s wonderful for exploring and understanding emotions and the events that cause them, and using that knowledge to overcome depression, fear, addiction, etc.
Here are a few reasons why writing is an awesome soul-searching tool:
- Sometimes expressing our feelings through writing is the first step to letting go of them.
- Writing allows us to distance ourselves from the situations so that we can see them in a more objective way, and therefore figure them out.
- Writing gives us a safe place in which to say things we’d be afraid to say otherwise. Afraid someone will read it? Burn it. Flush it. Bury it. The act of destroying the writings is healing in itself.
- Writing forces us to slow down our thoughts, because we write slower than our thoughts. Slowing down gives us the time to actually examine out thoughts.
- Writing allows us to organize our thoughts.
Many of us (especially bloggers!) have used writing to clarify our emotions at some point. Here are some tips to help you get started on your Soul Journaling:
- Find a safe place to keep your words, whether it’s a journal that you hide in a safe box or something, an online journal or pieces of paper that get thrown in the fireplace as soon as you’re done.
- Write in the third person if you need some extra distance from your life in order to see more clearly.
- Do it every day. I carry a Mead notebook with my everywhere to jot down ideas, but also to explore a difficult situation if I need to .
- Ask “why?” If a certain event triggered a reaction to something, ask yourself “why?” If something makes you uncomfortable or brings out your obsessive tendencies, ask “why?”
- Dig deeper, get to the roots. It’s scary, but you can’t fix a problem if you don’t understand it. If you feel inferior around certain people, write down the exact emotions you feel around them. Have you felt that way before? When? Why? When you get to the bottom, ask yourself what you really want. Do you feel inferior because that person seems more exciting and has more friends than you? Maybe you want to feel loved, or to manifest more fun in your life.
- Dig yourself back out. When you get to the bottom of your emotions and discover what you want, ask yourself how you can get what you want. Say you want to feel loved, and you want to have more fun in your life. How can you manifest more fun and love? How can you give more love, so that you’ll attract it back to you?
- Read. Writing honestly takes a lot of practice because most people have difficulty recognizing uncomfortable emotions because they’re so used to shunning them or covering them with food or another addiction. I’ve found that reading the honest writing of others, whether it’s blogs, scriptures, or other inspiring books is a great way to loosen up. If we see those emotions in others, we learn to see them in ourselves. Talking with a counselor or trusted friend can also help. Learn to feel your emotions, get in touch with them.