Lately, journaling has been enjoying renewed popularity. But people have been journaling ever since writing was invented. The urge to record and explore through personal writings is time-honored and universal.

What is journaling, exactly? Some might picture a diary, a small volume bound with a lock and often full of secret romance. To others, the idea of a journal is like a ship's log, recording progress through a particular journey. These are both examples of journaling, though their authors and purposes are very different.

Maybe the only definition you can confidently suggest for journaling is that it is a regular practice of written reflections or commentary. The operative word here is "regular." It's not a journal unless it involves many successive entries over a period of time.

If nothing else, journaling is habitual; it's a discipline that requires dedication. You can profit from journaling one time only, but then you reap the benefits one time only. When you journal as a regular part of your everyday life, the practice can reach its full potential and return its most gracious rewards.

Just as in any diet program or exercise regimen, making it a part of your lifestyle is the ultimate answer. Journaling involves adopting a new activity and making it as natural a part of your day as brushing your teeth.

Beyond this fundamental characteristic, however, journal writing can take an infinite variety of forms. You can journal any experience, from your Army Boot Camp to your teenage romance, from your search for work to your vacation in the mountains.

So why journal? Why decide you are going to make this commitment, dedicating your time and energies to regular reflection?

You might simply wish to make a record of your life, or some aspect of it. Or maybe you're working towards a goal and you want to journal as a way to get motivated or organized. You might use your journal as a friend when other friends are not around.

Many people choose to start a journaling practice because they suspect it will bring them closer to their core selves. Journaling is unparalleled in its ability to reveal new information about our inner life, conditionings, experiences and thoughts.

When you write out your reasons for journaling, you may include phrases such as:
• make a change
• improve my attitude
• increase my emotional intelligence
• find something to believe in
• figure out why I keep making the same mistakes over and over

Serving as a supportive companion as you journey towards your self, your journal is a deceptively simple tool. That little notebook contains a process that brings you to self confidence, love, and understanding on higher levels than you've ever dreamed possible.

Author's Bio: 

Mari L. McCarthy - The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Journaling for the Health of It™ and Expert in Journaling for More journaling ideas and exercises are available at My new book, Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life is available at Write On!