Have you ever regretted speaking out on the spur of the moment? Have you wished that you had counted to 10, 20, 100 or maybe 10,000 before reacting? A journal, diary, or just writing something down to be reread later permits one to come back after a delay and reassess your original thoughts.
I can recall cases where the words spoken or written by others have seemed so offensive, that my first response was to react in anger and counterattack spontaneously. Sometimes, I did and almost always regretted it later, but several times I have used the written page to summarize my reactions, counter arguments, and bruised emotions. Then I delayed sending the material to anyone, sometimes for several days or longer. In every case I subsequently realized I needed to express myself differently so as to solve the problem rather than sooth my wounded ego. Generating a peaceful dialogue is not always easy nor is it as satisfying as an immediate counterattack, but in the long run it is always more profitable. Maybe we should all keep a file of “letters or messages better not sent.” I feel the messages not sent are an important part of diplomacy which allows dialogue to continue. Today, it seems all too common for people to say things about others that are “unforgivable”.
Another advantage of a journal whether kept daily, monthly, or even yearly, is it provides the opportunity to summarize and evaluate one’s own contributions, productivity and service over the intervening period. Frankly, I am often pleasantly pleased when I prepare my family Xmas newsletter to distribute among friends and relatives that by identifying the many accomplishments and contributions that had gotten lost in the clutter of daily living there is ample reason to be happy. Some of these seem small when considered individually, but when brought together suggest a life well lived. In a similar manner it can be satisfying to recall by writing them down all the small victories in interpersonal relationships, in services to the needy, in acknowledgement of service by and to others, and that all is not “Full of Doom, Gloom and rumors of Boom” as remarked by Deacon Mushrat to Pogo Possum in the famous Walt Kelly comic strip.