Journaling with Lists

Did you know list-making can be a fast, easy way to journal?

Think about it:  one of the main goals of journaling is to know ourselves better.  This leads to living more intentionally, to processing the full gamut of emotions we feel (from exhilaration to despair) and to recognizing the behaviours which both help and harm us.  Journaling can also provides a narrative of our lives…what we did, who we were with and where we were (think travel journal).

Ready to consider list-making?  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Oxygen List

A compilation of 10 (or more!) places and activities which energize you, this list can be tucked away in your journal for a rainy or blue day.  Since lethargy sometimes prevents us from doing the very thing which might break its hold over us, this list can inspire you to get going, to get out, to get motivated.  You can make this list even more creative by drawing it up in your art journal;  then collage  inspiring images, pretty drawings (if you’re talented at that) or doodling (if you’re not!).  Just taking out the scissors, glue stick and coloured markers will lift your spirit and take you back to the carefree days of kindergarten arts and crafts.

My Oxygen List changes periodically as I discover new pleasures.  Here is a sampling:

  1.  Take a walk on a trail in a nature park
  2.  Read magazines at Chapters while sipping a latte
  3.  Kayak
  4.  Enjoy a glass of wine on the dock at sunset
  5.  Eat popcorn at the movie theatre
  6.  Have a date with my son for a sushi lunch
  7.  Journal at Starbucks
  8.  Prepare hot pot and share with loved ones
  9.  Walk near water and meditate to the sounds of nature
  10.  Camping weekend with my daughter

Gratitude List

Nearly every day, I write down 5 things for which I am grateful.  I write in a pretty notebook with different coloured fine-tipped pens.  I date every entry.  If I’ve skipped a few days, I take some extra time to fill in more entries.  When I look back in my gratitude journal, I not only remember people, events and places I might have forgotten, I also feel the lovely feelings associated with those memories.  This practise alone has boosted my life satisfaction in subtle yet profound ways.

List of movies/books

How many times have you wondered if you read that book?  Saw that movie?

I have such fun at the end of the year reviewing my list of the movies, books and TV series I’ve enjoyed.  It also motivates me to read more so I can add to my list.  A list of books you want to read is a nice touch and it’s helpful to have it in your journal instead of on a piece of paper you can’t find when you need it.

 List of Pros and Cons

Drawing up a list of pros and cons is a tried and tested method for finding out how you really feel about an issue or concern.  Simply draw a line down the middle of your page and itemize the advantages to doing something one one side of the line (marked Pros) and list the disadvantages on the opposite side (the Cons).  Sometimes just the sheer number of items on one side clearly outweighs the other and you have your answer.  At other times, the value of one item is “heavier” and writing it down will connect you to that reality.  Either way, awareness is the goal.

Just this morning, I read a terrific article on ways to increase self-motivation.  It includes drawing up a list of pros and cons about the behaviour you wish to change.  The article outlines the steps to take after you’ve drawn up your list (read the article here).

List of 100

This fascinating idea comes from Kathleen Adams’ wonderful book entitled “Journal to the Self: Twenty-two Paths to Personal Growth.”*  When you work with a list of 100 (Reasons I Am Stressed, Things I Am Grateful For, Ways I Could Nurture Myself, to name but a few), you can identify themes, patterns and actions steps.  The first part of the list yields what you might imagine would appear on your list, the second third includes recurring thoughts (what’s really preoccupying you) and the last third might reveal the unexpected (but very telling).  This is one of 18 techniques you learn in Journal to the Self® (check upcoming events for information about this inspiring workshop).  You can also learn about the technique by purchasing the book.*

* Can be purchased at the Centre for Journal Therapy Bookstore.

Bullet Travel Journal

Travel journaling got much simpler for me when I adopted a bullet format.  I make a brief note of where I was, what I wish to remember and any details which might jog my memory.  It’s surprising how much our mind fills in with just a few memory cues!  I usually get a clear visual image of what I’m writing about when I look over my travel journal.  The best thing about this type of journaling is that, no matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I can always find a few minutes to journal.  If I miss a day or two, catching up is fast and effortless…no great prosaic descriptions to write unless I am so inspired!  This format frees me to capture the important stuff in only a few words.

Give list-making a try if you don’t already use it in your journaling.  In the meantime, ink well!


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