By now, almost everyone has heard of journaling but aren’t sure why it is so beneficial or how to get started. Journaling is similar to keeping a diary, but it can be kept with specific self-help goals in mind.
There are a number of reasons why people have kept journals throughout the ages. Many of the earliest ones in English were for the sake of reflecting on how the person could improve his or her life and be a better person. Interestingly, 2 of the earliest journals were written by women, Julian of Norwich, a nun, in the early 1370s, and Margery Kempe, a middle-class housewife in the 1430s.
Kempe met Julian of Norwich and was no doubt inspired by her. Both talk about their spiritual progress in their journals. Kempe also traveled widely to various famous pilgrimage sites, thus being credited as the author of both the first autobiography to ever have been published, as well as one of the first travelogues.
As the centuries passed, journals were also kept in order to record important historical events the journal-keepers lived through. One of the most famous diaries is that of Samuel Pepys, (pronounced PEEPS), who was a civil servant in the reign of Charles II of England. It is remarkable for 3 reasons:
1. it’s very frank and offer shocking details about his daily life;
2. the way it captures life in late 17th century England;
3. the fact that it was written in code and had taken centuries to decipher.
A less colorful, more stark example of a journal that has stood the test of time and will most likely be read forever is the diary of Anne Frank and her experiences hiding from the Nazis during World War II.
While you may not think you are living in the midst of great historical times, there are other reasons for keeping a journal. So if you’ve been curious about how to go about it, and why it can be so beneficial, let’s first start with a definition of what journaling is.