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Friday, November 27, 2020

The Life Lesson Journal

 If you are interested in listening to a discussion of this post by the Teach Suzuki Podcast, episode 223, click here.

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I previously discussed finding a journal to use as a regular course, and I suggested several possible formats. Now I wish to share my favorite and simplest journal of all — the Life Lesson Journal.

For the life lesson journal purpose, I use a simple Moleskine softcover journal. This journal is straightforward to use and maintain.

First, decide when you will use it. My initial life lesson journal began as a short evening ritual that mentally prepared me for bedtime. I kept the journal near my bedside and quickly recapped the life lessons from the day. Now I use the journal in the mornings before I even drink my first sips of morning refreshments (coffee and tea). Maintaining the journal takes about a minute or so.

Second, decide where you will use it. I leave my journal on my morning placemat, where I will see it immediately when I sit down to begin my morning reflection and study. Another idea is to store it in a familiar, accessible place and put up a reminder to write in it daily. Habits are more comfortable to start and maintain if I see them when I desire to execute them; hence, my kitchen table where I sit first thing in the morning.

Third, here are the four categories to include in your life lesson journal. Remember, this is a brief journal, like a stake that you put in the ground to mark a particular point and place in the time of your life. The journal does not need to be more than a quick summary of things within these four categories. If you wish to broaden and expand your entries, you can use another larger journal for that reflective purpose.

Day and Date: include the day of the week and its date. I draw a box around this information so that I can quickly see it. Sometimes I add splashes of color to the date box if something important occurred that I think I might wish to find quickly at a later time.

Accomplished: Here, I quickly summarize what I accomplished that day. I use abbreviations frequently. Over time I have developed my abbreviated system of noting what I accomplished in a day.

Learned: Here, I include something that I learned. It may be a new word or piece of information, or it could be a lesson that I learned from a particularly knotty problem or stumbling block that I encountered that day. Sometimes I even forget what I learned that day but might remember that I did indeed learn something. I ask myself these questions to prod my memory: Did I learn something new? Did I learn something surprising? Did I have a problem, and if so, what lesson could I learn from what happened?

Grateful: Here, I write a short statement about something that I am grateful for. This is one of my favorite parts of the journal. Sometimes I have to think about what I am grateful for, and thankfully there is always something to find. I also find that I need to go through the exercise of turning lemons into lemonade, but that exercise improves my mental attitude overall.

Committed: I used to label this category "100% committed," but with time, for the sake of brevity, I shortened the category label to "committed." Here I write what I intend to accomplish the next day. I am careful here. I focus on my intention. I find that what I write here will get done, so I am careful not to over schedule my ambition. Rarely do I not accomplish something on this list, and when that happens, I mark through those items when I visit my lessons journal the next day.

I use my goal cards as bookmarks in my life lessons journal to mark my current time period. I will discuss what my goal cards look like in a later discussion. For now, I include them to keep my place in my life lesson journal because I visit this journal daily and want to see my goal cards daily as well.

I highly recommend that you begin the life lesson journal practice. It takes moments, whether morning or evening, and it is a useful and simple daily tool to review my life and reveal the important lessons that my life will teach me.

Until next time,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2020 by Paula E. Bird

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