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Monday, January 13, 2014

Journal Writing Our Way Through These New Middle Ages

This is from a recent study done with 500 college students—ages 18-22—at Kent State University in Ohio.  The researchers were looking at the effect of frequent cell phone use on measures of anxiety, happiness, and success.  (Andrew Lepp, Jacob E. Barkley, Aryn C. Karpinski. The relationship between cell phone use, academic performance, anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life in college students. Computers in Human Behavior, 2014)

According to what researcher Andrew Lepp told The Daily Mail (UK) when discussing the results (more cell phone use = less of the other stuff):

“There is no ‘me’ time or solitude left in some of these students’ lives….I think mental health requires a bit of personal alone time to reflect, look inward, process life’s events, and just recover from daily stressors.”

I mention all this because of the connection Lepp makes between a person’s mental health and the time spent reflecting on life experiences.  I do believe this is something geezers might know a bit more about than the kids.

And mostly because reflection (“This happened—what does it mean to me??”) is likely a learned habit, a practice that needs encouragement from others, including parents, teachers, and clergy.

I’ve spent a good part of my professional life teaching people how to use journal writing as a reflective practice.  A personal journal affords a perfect place to express ourselves freely, without fear of criticism or rebuke.  This makes it ideal for getting at the truth of our thoughts and feelings--and at the significance of certain events.

In my workshops, people learn a series of exercises and techniques to help them develop and maintain a journal writing practice.  This can help, especially, when big transitions come along in our lives:  a birth or death; a move across the country; an illness; a new job. 

Another big transition occurs when we move from one stage of life to the next, especially when that next one has not yet been experienced nor charted before in the history of our species. 

I speak of course of these new middle ages.

If you find yourself in or approaching this stage, and are interested in joining others who want to use a personal journal to negotiate it, consider my newest workshop:

Composing a Life:  A Journaling Workshop for Boomers and Beyond. 
We’ll be meeting at Fourth Presbyterian Church/Lorene Replogle Counseling Center, 126 E. Chestnut St. in Chicago

Days/times are
Four Tuesdays, February 4 – 25, 2014; 6-8 pm

$250 by January 28; $265 thereafter
Register at 312.787.8425

Any questions about the workshop content, please do not hesitate to contact me at or 773.981.2282.

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