What happens to all of those brilliant ideas and epiphanies we think up, but have not written down to be remembered? Oftentimes, the pivotal and remarkable ideas we come up with are placed in the deepest depths of our minds, never having the chance to be shared nor expressed. Earl Nightingale spoke about this pretty often, but there is one thing he said which should not be forgotten.
“Don’t die with your music still in you.”
In researching and practicing the art of writing, I have come to the realization that majority of our knowledge, skills, feelings (especially those we are unaware of,) our beliefs and paradigms, as well as many of our greatest ideas, are stored in parts of the mind that are rarely explored.
When we seek to explore these depths, we learn exponentially about ourselves and those around us. There are countless ways to do this- especially in picking up artistic hobbies like painting, pottery making, wire wrapping, and my personal favorite- WRITING.
Writing is not to be viewed as a mundane, boring task, nor is it meant to seem like a chore. I do not encourage writing if it is something an individual doesn’t enjoy, but it can always be turned into an activity which is looked forward to.
Believe it or not, writing has proven to be extremely beneficial to the mental and physical health of an individual. A study done in 1986 by Pennebaker & Beall demonstrated that writing about emotional events resulted in a decreased amount of physician visits and less frequent dosages of aspirin, and another study by Smyth, Hockmeyer, and Tullock (2008) showed decreases in negative mood states.
The method they utilize in these studies is called “expressive writing” and has been proven, time and time again, to have countless positive impacts on the mental, emotional, and physical health of an individual. The studies have considered people of all ages, genders, races, and intellectuality levels, so its clear that expressive writing can be effective for anyone.
The original version of expressive writing, which had been utilized in earlier studies, was to write for 15 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week, about the most traumatic experience an individual has endured, exploring its deepest depths. Participants would write as much as possible about that experience for the next fifteen minutes, diving into their emotions and making connections, touching on any aspects of the experience they felt needed to be expressed.
Lets be real… not everyone likes to revisit events like this.
As the studies on expressive writing have evolved, so has the expressive writing method itself. Instead of focusing on a singular traumatic experience, scientists now have the participants write about general emotional events, or something important that has occurred to them. In this method, there are countless stories for the individual to write about. Still doing so for 15-30 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week, exploring aspects of the events that the individual desires to explore.
The results of ongoing and previous studies continuously demonstrates what a liberating task expressive writing can be.
The writing I do isn’t always expressive, but it is absolutely beneficial to my emotional and physical health, and it brings me closer to fulfilling my goals. I have two journals that I carry with me everywhere. The first one I use to take notes on any educational videos or books I read or watch that correlate with my favorite topics. The second journal I use for my finances & investments, as well as for my blogging rough drafts and social media ideas. These journals keep me in the right vibration, as they naturally serve as daily reminders that I am constantly gaining knowledge and personal insight to better myself and my career, and they remind me where I am headed. They are on the smaller side, so they’re much more accessible than school journals.
For anyone who has the drive to pave their own path, its a great idea to carry a personal journal with them. (Bullet Journal has an awesome format for any newbies who like organization! ) In doing so, artists and entrepreneurs give themselves the opportunity to write down their unique ideas, personal observations, feelings and emotions, beliefs and paradigms (which do and do not serve them,) as well as miscellaneous content that contributes to the fulfillment of their goals.
What successful person do you know that doesn’t have a journal or planner to keep their life and thoughts in order? And if they don’t- they probably use their cellphone, that works too! If using your cellphone makes this easier for you, it is highly encouraged.
To check out the studies mentioned, you can find them in “The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology.” (Chapter 18 Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical and Mental Health)
There are hundreds of studies out there which have proved writing to be insanely beneficial to the human brain and body. Instead of letting your epiphanies and ideas slip away, jot them in your journal & take action.