You have probably heard that keeping a journal can be good for you. There is something about writing that helps us to become more clear about our priorities and to understand our emotional reactions. We used to think that emotional expression was the important element. For example, we know that people who talk about their difficult experiences have better immune functioning than those who do not. However, more recent research has emphasized that making sense of our experiences is more crucial than emotional release. There is something about either talking or writing about our experiences that helps us to better understand them.
A researcher named Laura King from the University of Missouri was interested to find out if the benefits of writing were limited to writing about difficult experiences. She found that thinking seriously about an important topic was essential, but the emotional anguish was not. Here is what she did:
She asked people to write about their best possible future self for 20 minutes for four consecutive days. She measured mood and health before, immediately after, three weeks later and again five months later. She found that people who did this exercise felt less upset, happier, and got sick less often.
If you would like to try this experiment, find a quiet place to think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all your life dreams. Now, write about what you imagined for 20 minutes. Do this for 4 consecutive days.
We encourage you to start a journal to help you express and understand yourself. If you incorporate the best possible future self exercise, we hope it boosts your feelings of happiness and immunity. If you would rather talk face to face with one of our clinicians, you can reach us at 514 223 5327.