How Effective Journaling Can Minimize Anxiety

Keeping track of positives in your life, every day for a month, can reorient your attitude.

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In the work world today, stress and anxiety are on the rise. If they're creeping into your life, you can either grit your teeth and bear it, or you can be proactive about minimizing them. One approach that I have found particularly effective is writing a "positive journal."

Despite how it might sound, positive journaling isn't one of those sugar-coated techniques where you just sit around thinking happy thoughts. Rather, it's about focus and awareness.

A few months ago, I did an experiment where every morning for 30 days (to start with) I wrote in a journal in which I would focus on only two things:

  • What's positive in my life?
  • What's keeping me from focusing more fully on the positive in my life?
  • It started with simple curiosity: "I wonder what effect it would have if I created a space where I focused only on positive things."

    The first thing I discovered was that my brain started more actively noticing the positive, as if it were saying, "Uh-oh. I have to write about this stuff—I better start paying attention."

    Second, incorporating gratitude journaling created a great reminder of how many things there are in my life to be thankful for. It helped keep things in perspective. (Here are some gratitude exploration prompts.)

    Finally, though I tend to be a fairly optimistic person overall, the journaling shone a light on ways that I was getting in the way of seeing more of the positive in life.

    Ultimately, the experiment had a significantly positive impact.

    Don't take my word for it though. I could just be some windbag-guru full of hot air. Try the experiment yourself. Every day for 30 days (I found mornings worked best for me), keep a positive journal.

    And if you do, let me know how it goes.

    After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker , explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.

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