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Journaling Our Way To Self-Actualization

Page history last edited by kms 11 years, 9 months ago

October 17, 2010   final project version renamed and linked to main page 

Journaling Our Way to Self-Actualization



One might consider some of my writings, as many of the writings on this wiki, to be in the realm of journaling.  The writings may not be considered journaling as in Merriam-Webster’s definition “an account of day to day activities”, but certainly as in Merriam-Webster’s definition “a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use” . . . with the exception of “private” of course.


The process of journaling has been documented since the 10th century when the Japanese kept daily logs of their lives.  Sailors logged their ventures at sea throughout history and artists and scientists alike have kept journals, including Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.  Most people are quite familiar with the now famous journal The Diary of Anne Frank. 


Good critical thinkers continuously evaluate information, however, so I decided to do a little research on the benefits of journaling, particularly as it relates to self-actualization (Browne, Keeley 90).   As advised in The Craft of Research, I limited myself to works dated, or research citing other works dated, within the last ten years (74).  What I found in print reiterated what I found in personal experience.


In “A Simple Pen to Paper: What’s the Big Deal?”  Barbara Landis notes that journaling is a way to record one’s thoughts so that we are able to reflect on them at a later date.  She advises writers to date their entries since this enables the writer to visibly see that they have already dealt with an issue and can now move forward, or allows the writer to read previous entries and realize the progress they have actually made - progress they may not have even been aware of (515). 


In “Tapping Into the Wellspring of Wellness” Samuel Gladding states that writing is a life enhancer that enables us to gain a deeper understanding of who we are (114).  Gladding describes how he was intuitively aware that “writing had a way of transforming life,” prior to his reading the “landmark” work of James Pennebaker (116).  (Pennebaker wrote Writing to Heal, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger 2004, a book referenced in many articles, but one that I have been unable to locate within the Pinellas County library system or through USFSPs Interlibrary Loan system).  Gladding states that he found comfort in the fact that the proven benefits of writing have a strong research base (117). 


The journaling process also appears to assist writers both physically and emotionally by relieving stress.  By relieving stress, one improves their immune system which helps to fend off physical disease.  These benefits are in addition to the fact that the process of keeping, and writing, a personal journal assists individuals to better understand themselves, accomplish goals, and move their lives in a positive direction.


The pieces I read combined both academic writing and personal reflections.  This was something I didn’t expect in “academic” writing, but makes sense considering the personal nature of the subject.  In conclusion, the brief research I engaged in validated my thoughts that journaling is a useful tool in the process of self exploration and self-actualization.  A tool I plan to continue to use personally, and a process I hope to pass on in volunteer efforts to assist women who are in the process of transitioning to independent lives.




Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G., Williams M., Joseph.  The Craft of Research.  The University of Chicago Press 2008.


Browne, N. Neil and Keeley, Stuart M.  Asking the Right Questions, A Guide to Critical Thinking.   New Jersey, Prentice Hall/Pearson Education, Inc., 2010.


Gladding, Samuel T.  Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, Spring 2007, Volume 46, Reflections on Wellness.  “Tapping Into the Wellspring of Wellness”.  American Counseling Association 2007.


Landis BSN, RN, HNC, Barbara Forrester.   Home Health Care Management & Practice Volume 16, Number 6.“A Simple Pen to Paper: What’s the Big Deal?”  Sage Publications 2004.


Merriam-Webster.com< http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/journal>  Retrieved October 17, 2010.


Go to Copy of Journaling Our Way To Self-Actualization with class comments 


Comments (6)

H.I.M. said

at 12:07 am on Oct 18, 2010

While some of my edits have been of a reflective journaling sort, it's not very deep, intense, or honest in the way they can be in less public venues. However, I can say that journaling, even though it at times makes me feel self-absorbed when I look back at some of my writings and thus a bit embarrassed, I do understand the value of journaling as it relates to gaining awareness of not only self but of the world around self. Journaling does enhance critical thinking, at least for me. Pouring out reflections onto a document and looking back at it somehow helps me see some of my inner workings from a different angle, looking at such from a reader standpoint versus containing internal processes and thoughts and feelings and not laying such out for proper examination.

In the end, gaining a better critical understanding of self via awareness and via a degree of objectivity combined with some sense of sympathetic understanding, I feel I can better tolerate and help others when I see things they are experiencing which I believe I have dealt with in my own life and have taken the time prior to understand from a detached point of view despite having personally lived what I have.

But I also see these reflections as being a key part in learning of oneself and empowering oneself to empower others versus to not move from a self-absorbed state and so gaining a reputation of being oblivious and uncaring.

M. O'Neill said

at 6:11 pm on Oct 24, 2010

Who hasn't looked back at something she wrote in her junior year of high school and blushed at the earnestness? I love journaling as it allows me to see the evolution of me. Reflection is a useful, necessary practice for people, particularly students, as well as writers. This is a thoughtful post! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Casey Shuniak said

at 7:18 pm on Oct 26, 2010

“I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Joan Didion

Aardvark Marker said

at 7:23 pm on Oct 26, 2010

one of Kerouac's essentials: "Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy"

William Kuncz said

at 10:04 pm on Oct 26, 2010

there was something that bothered me about the first sentence and i couldn't figure out what it was until now. I think it come's off a little defensive, either of your style of writing or journaling in general but maybe that was the point?

kms said

at 2:50 pm on Oct 27, 2010

Ooooh, no. So interesting comment. Certainly did not mean it to be defensive at all. Now, how to change that . . .

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