Integrative Wellness Rules

The following excerpt is taken from the book Integrative Wellness Rules by Jim Nicolai and Miraval.

Keep a Journal

If it’s worth living, it’s worth recording.

Those words have stayed in my memory. They’ve been my motivation for keeping a journal since my early 20s. Journals have been living scrapbooks for everything I’ve done. From ticket stubs of favorite movies, concerts, and plays to articles found in papers or magazines; pictures of my wife, Sara and the kids; works of art from the little ones; snapshots from friends and family; brainstorming ideas and dreams; goals—signed and dated; actions items for the upcoming day—I keep all of these in my journal.

I also try to make an entry at least every few days as a running commentary on what’s going on in my life. It could be what’s up with the news, weather, and sports of the day; my reaction to a particular event or situation; or an inspiring idea or memory I want to capture. If it pops into my head, it goes down on paper. Some of these have been real gems.

I also find it fascinating to look at my past journals. They are stored in a large wooden chest. It’s amazing to see what was going on way back when, what I was thinking, who was in my life at the time, and how I was responding to things, especially from a reference point of where I am today.

My journals provide a healthy dose of perspective, knowing where I am and where I’ve come from. All those tragedies I thought were so devastating don’t seem as bad; and all of those victories that I thought were fantastic were good but not so tremendous.

Life seems more intriguing when taken from this vantage point.

It gives me a sense of calm that I turned out all right throughout the twists and turns of life. Journaling helps to frame the world around me as I am going through it, knowing that there’s a lot going on at a rapid pace but that I’m also a meaningful part of that journey. And ultimately, it gives me a satisfaction to know that I’m still here putting the puzzle pieces of my life together—that they have formed a particular picture but there’s still more to go.

I liken it to a photo mosaic, where a larger image is made out of hundreds or thousands of tinier pictures. As I record my life, a picture begins to develop, and it adds to all the other reflections I’ve put together to ultimately coalesce into something greater. What eventually appears may take months or years to see, but as I look back on journal after journal, I begin to notice patterns, and eventually a grander picture of me and where I am on my journey forms. It gives me a reference point to keep moving in a desired direction or to take a step back and go somewhere else.

My journals keep me excited as a collector of memories and experiences to see what adventures may be lurking around the corner and what bigger picture I might be creating. There’s nothing better than finishing one book only to open up another.

And somewhere down the road, as my life is winding up, I know I will feel a sense of satisfaction that I have left a legacy of my life through these journals. It may be my children or theirs who might want to know a bit more about their grandfather, and all they will have to do is open the wooden chest. My oldest son just finished an essay about his great-grandfather, who was an Army Corps Engineer in the First World War. He built roads and bridges in France, and as he interviewed my father-in law, we were getting to know someone who lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. We saw his old leather army bag with the measuring tape he used to gauge the length of whatever he was building. I saw his old holster; it had been to Belgium and back. Having a link to that time through this man was an amazing feeling. I wish I had been able to read some of his letters; it would have taken me to that time and place but also deeper into the man who was living through it.

That’s what I want my journals to be as well. It’s a gift to those who want to learn about me and the life I’ve lived.

As a writer and a lover of books, I personally love the feeling of holding a pen in my hand and writing on paper. You need to choose your own favorite way to journal as long as you get it down. Write a blog on your computer. Talk into a recorder. Use a smartphone or iPad. Keep a scrapbook or a collection of photos, videos, and family movies. Anything you can do to record your life can bring remarkable clarity to your journey.

If it’s worth living, it’s worth recording.

For more information on Integrative Wellness Rules, visit:

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