I will be 50 this year and have been writing in a journal since I was a teenager. Needless to say, I have filled A LOT of journals.
Recently, someone asked me why I have journaled all these years. I stopped and really thought about it and my answer was, “Because it has kept me in touch with a sense of wonder and beauty within my life and within myself.”
What to write about in your journal
I have not only written about the beauty and good stuff in my journal. Rather my journal has also been a place to vent and heal my broken heart after major life losses. It has been a place and a practice to help me grow myself, figure out who I am and who I am becoming. I have grieved in my journal, celebrated, sought answers, rambled and often found nuggets of new found self-awareness that enrich my life and my choices.
AND through it all, my journal writing practice has kept me tethered to a sense of awe and deep gratitude for the moment to moment experiences in my daily life. It helps me stay present in the now, whilst also looking back and dreaming forward.
Mostly when I write in my journal, I am reminded of how incredible this life and world really is. I regularly have a feeling of awe when I write.
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why does Awe and Wonder matter?
Awe is a state of being that allows us to be truly filled with a sense of wonder, with a sense of amazement. As coaches, we can bring this sense of wonder into our work with clients, and also help them tap into their own sense of wonder.
Wonder is the cornerstone to creativity, and perhaps to happiness too. It helps us align with optimism and hope. It helps us remember our inner resources, and see the vastness of things. Wonder can also help us see the bigger picture, especially at times when things are different from how we might wish them to be.
For example, in coaching we often talk about helping clients bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be. Marc Lesser, author of Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader says, “Simply recognizing a gap between how you are living, working and leading and how you aspire to live, work and lead can be profound and transformative. Equally inspiring is acting to narrow these gaps in effective, practical ways. Mindfulness helps us in both efforts.”
In my experience, journal writing can help close those gaps too. Especially if journal writing is used to help people connect with a sense of awe and wonder in their lives and work.
Here are 5 Journaling Activities to Cultivate a Sense of Wonder and Awe in Everyday Life:
You will need: A journal, notebook or piece of paper – and a pen.
1. A Picture Says a Thousand Words
Find a picture that really sparks a feeling of joy in you when you look at it. This can be from a magazine, website or the photos on your phone.
Then set a timer and write in your journal answering this Journaling Prompt: What is it about this image that brings you joy?
Write in as much sensory detail as possible (sight, sound, touch, smell and so forth) to really bring this felt sense of joy alive in your writing and within yourself.
2. Looking back
Think back to a time where you felt a sense of awe and wonder. Maybe it was earlier today, last week or twenty years ago.
Allow yourself to fully embody the memory of this time when you felt a sense of awe and wonder.
Journaling prompt: What made you feel this way? What about this experience brought about feelings of awe and wonder? Be as specific as you can.
3. Get curious about something!
As coaches, we know that curiosity is a cornerstone to transformation and growth. It is also the bedrock of wonder.
Pick a topic, or perhaps an area you’re seeking more clarity for in your life or work. Write down the topic at the top of a fresh page and then write down at least 10 questions you are curious about in relation to this topic or issue. Then simply let your own questions become doorways into new insights, clarity – and open you to possibilities, wonder and awe.
This is also a generative and fun way to cultivate curiosity and wonder in a group:
- Ask each person to write a topic at the top of a page.
- Get everyone to walk around the room and write one question under each topic.
- Everyone collects up their journal or piece of paper – and has a set of new and interesting questions to consider on a topic of interest to them!
4. Nature walk
Go outside for a walk taking your journal and pen with you for an awesome time.
Ideally walk in a green space, park, forest or along a beach. Really tune into the nature that surrounds you – using all your senses.
Notice your feet as they take each step and place against the earth beneath you. Notice your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Notice your own human nature as it moves within the whole of the environment that surrounds you. Allow yourself to be touched by nature. Really notice how amazing you feel in this environment. After walking quietly and mindfully for at least 10 minutes, find a place where you can sit and write.
Journaling prompt: What does it feel like to walk in nature, fully awake and aware of your surroundings? What did you notice? How do you feel?
“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” Socrates
5. I wonder…
Simply start writing using the journaling prompt: I wonder…
Write a sentence, paragraph, poem, make a list – or anything else that flows from your pen!
Cultivating a sense of wonder is a choice we can make. Much like perspective and point of view, it is an orientation. Orienting towards awe and wonder feels good, and as such attracts positive energy to us and through us. Journal writing is a powerful tool that can help us pay full attention to the wonder that is always available to us, when we look for it.
Journal writing sharpens our senses, helps us see more clearly what is around us and within us, all at once. This is why journaling is so AWEsome!
“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Eden Phillpotts
Contributing author: Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. She is the author of Life Source Writing: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness & Creativity, the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection. Sign up for her newsletter to access the free gift: Transformational Journaling Kit for Coaches here >>
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