In his book 59 Seconds Richard Wiseman continually returns to the idea of writing and journaling when trying to overcome obstacles, become more creative, and reach ones goals. Towards the beginning of the book Wiseman discusses a study in which participants were asked to either talk to another person to express themselves, journal for a few minutes a few days a week, or just continue on as they always had while the experimenters examined them over long period of time. The study found large benefits for those who spent their time writing as wiseman explains,
“Thinking can often be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic. In contrast, writing encourages the creation of a story line and structure that help people make sense of what has happened and work toward a solution. In short, talking can add to a sense of confusion, but writing provides a more systematic solution-based approach.”
The subjects of the experiment had all experienced a traumatic event in their lives, and those who spent time writing through what happened, as opposed to those who had done nothing or talked to another about their feelings, found the most traction in getting to a new way of thinking about the traumatic experience. I believe that this plays into every part of our lives and can make a big impact in how we are feeling on a day to day basis. Wiseman returns to studies related to journaling throughout his book and explains how anticipating obstacles and writing about them can help one be more prepared for the journey towards their goals. He also writes about the benefits of journaling about the things you love about your loved ones as a way to move forward in your relationships with a more open and loving attitude.
One small area in which I have taken Wiseman’s advice for writing and applied it to my own life is in a simple journaling exercise that helps me be aware of the lucky things that happen in my life. I keep a luck journal and every night before I go to bed I reflect on what happened that day that was positive and in some way lucky for me. This puts me in the right mindset as I prepare to go to sleep and helps me be thankful for the good things that have happened. I can feel more content with my “luck” at the end of the day and instead of going to bed fearful for something that is coming up.
Throughout 59 Seconds Wiseman explains that writing, more than any other activity, helps build new connections in the brain. It is slower than speaking, even when you are typing at a million miles per hour, and it forces your brain to slow down and be more considerate. When writing you have the time to think an idea through and find the best way to communicate that idea. This reinforces the thoughts and connections you had already developed, and gives you a new chance to combine thoughts and ideas and to find new connections.