Keeping a Dream Journal to Unlock Your Inner Wisdom

Dream Journal

The Importance of Keeping a Dream Journal

Keeping a dream journal is important to many, young and old alike.


You dream every day of your life, several times per sleep with each one lasting 5 to 20 minutes.

Keeping a Dream JournalBut guess what?

Dreams are elusive. They go away as soon as you step out of bed, or are alerted by your alarm clock.

You need to capture your dreams.

Journaling is the best way to nail down your dreams, recall details of each, and make sense of their meaning in your life.

Why People Keep Dream Journals

People keeping dream journals usually do so for the following reasons:

  • Recall dreams – They tend to forget their dreams. It disturbs them to not remember them or to try recalling them and not be able to.
  • Decipher messages in dreams – They get dreams that are good, bad or who knows? Whether pleasant or not, these dreams to them are chock-full of symbols, images, colors, puzzles or cryptic messages that they want or need to understand.
  • Understand self better – They get to have a better perspective and regard of themselves. They get insights of themselves in terms of their motivations, attitudes, behaviors, emotions and thoughts.
  • Act on messages in dreams – Dreams are a great vehicle for messages that may be urgent or provide enlightenment and guidance for things in the future.

If that sounds boring, well, get this:

Your dream journal may let you win the lottery!

A close kin won over half a quarter million dollars by keeping tab of his dreams. Through the years, he has kept a journal of numbers – daily expenses, monthly bills, paycheck, payables, pension, cash on hand, bank account information – including his dreams of lottery numbers.

My hubby was close to it. While at university ages ago, he dreamt of two sets of numbers. They didn’t make sense to him but recorded them anyway. That week, there was a draw to a numbers contest and the winning number corresponded to some simple calculations he made up using the first set of numbers.


Well, he applied the same formula to the second set of numbers and… surprise, surprise! He ended up with the winning number for the next draw.

Bummer of bummers – he didn’t bet on it.

That would have easily been $100 cash to his pocket, which was handsome money at that time.

Your dream may be an omen.

It may be good, like:

  • getting a job offer for a lucrative position in a prestigious company
  • court case settlement working at your favor
  • winning a trip to Europe.

It may also be bad, like:

  • cheating by spouse or business partner
  • accidents or deaths
  • upcoming environmental turbulence or disasters.


What Do Dreams Really Mean?

Dreams are your key to the unknown.

To Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist well-known in the 20th century for his interpretations of dreams,

Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.

They are like movements or motions in the mind – a shoutout by your subconscious – to try to grab your attention, point you to important messages, and let you act on them.

Dreams have helped people solve problems, get out of messy situations, or simply see light on ongoing issues.

This connection between dreams and the subconscious has been speculated on for centuries. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, theorized that there is a definite connection between dreams, emotional needs and waking experiences.

Your dream journal is therefore an antidote to your failure to recall dreams.

However, for you to take full advantage of your dreams, you need to record them in as much detail as you can remember.

Our memory has no guarantees at all, and yet we bow more often than is objectively justified to the compulsion to believe what it says. ~Sigmund Freud

Tomorrow, watch out for this post:

A Guide to Keeping a Dream Journal.

7 Smart Journaling Tips

7 Smart Journaling Tips

There are many ways that you can do your journal writing. 

Whoever does journaling can teach you a tip or two about how to sharpen your practice a bit more.

7 Smart Journaling Tips


Here are seven smart tips that you could learn from:


1. Get a journal that inspires you.

Your journal doesn't have to be fancy.

It can simply be a lined notebook oftentimes used at ​school.

It can be from recycled or recyclable paper that you buy or bind.

Use your computer, if you wish.​

Whatever it is, let it be something you would spend long hours with (or, perhaps, most of your life).

It should inspire you to keep journaling even when you don't feel like. 


2. Keep things simple. 

Keep your journal log simple and short.

You don't have to write kilometric paragraphs or error-free sentences.

Journals are supposed to be relaxing and liberating.

The more you keep things simple, the more you get out of it.

As such...

​Forget about rules.

Even your own.

Take things easy. ​

Focus on opening up and being mindful of ​your thoughts and feelings.

Do that and you'll be fine.​


 3. Write freely. 

Your journal is your kingdom. 

As ruler, do as ​you please.

Nobody can tell on you.

Don't hold back.

Don't make your handwriting lovely.​

Don't even correct mistakes.

If you have the urge to end each sentence with a stop, question mark or exclamation, stop!​

Write freely - whatever and however.

Cry, sulk, laugh.

Be happy. 


 4. Focus on your feelings. 

Smart Tips on Journaling

The most important person in your journal is you.

Focus on you - most specially your feelings that affect your thoughts and behavior.

Being mindful of how you feel could liberate internal blocks or bolster positive energy.

If you are stumped about what to write, begin with the phrase, “I feel…”

This will unblock you and let your thoughts and emotions flow freely.

Soon, you're better able to journal your thoughts and feelings.


5. Use prompts.

If you’re struggling with what to write, use prompts to get your juices flowing.

Journaling prompts are idea starters that can aid and boost your journal writing. 

They do wonders specially when you don't know how to start, what to write, or how to keep going. 

Examples of prompts are:

  • Think about a horrible experience in your childhood that transformed you into the person you are today.
  • Describe your perfect career and the reasons it would fulfill you.
  • Who is the person who influenced you to seriously pursue a profitable hobby or business?
  • If you were to start all over in your relationship with your significant other, what would you do differently?
  • What are your greatest regrets in life and why?


 6. Make sense of your journal. 

Smart Tips on Journaling

Take time to review your filled-up journals.

You would understand yourself more if you do so.

Over time, you will see clear patterns of how you think, feel and behave.

Be open to possibilities while being as objective as possible.

Don’t judge, beat or belittle yourself.

Accept everything in it - good or bad, tasteful or distasteful, delightful or horrible.

Think - How can your discoveries improve your circumstances? How can they help you grow?

Focus of them.

Proceed from there.​

7. Keep writing. 

Let journal writing be second nature to you. 

Write daily.

Write when you feel like.

Write even when you're under the weather.​

Write for as long as you like or as briefly.

Write about anything.

Write about nonsensical or extraordinary things.

However, do it regularly and don't stop.​

Soon, it would become effortless and involuntary.

You shall have developed a great habit!

How to Journal

Journal Writing

How Should You Journal?

How you journal is really up to you.

If writing long entries is what you enjoy or find helpful, do so.

Even the format is up to you.

You may jot down a few bullets or lines to serve as your memory aid.

However you do it, find a medium that’s comfortable.


4 Main Journaling Styles

As guide, you may adopt any of four journal writing styles: 


1 - Freestyle Journal Writing

​Freestyle journal writing is a no holds barred kind of writing.

It is done your way -  unrestricted, non-restrictive, not time bound, unadulterated, uncensored, unstructured, non-directed, and uncontrolled. 

It may be random, though not always and not as a general rule. ​

You write without strict consideration (or serious thought) of the following:​

  • what to write (topic or theme)
  • why write (goal)
  • ​how long to write (duration)
  • how often to write (frequency)
  • how fast you write (speed)
  • what order or guide to follow (structure)
  • where to write (place)
  • what to write on or with (material)
  • how to write (format or presentation)
  • when to write (time)
  • how much to write (length)
  • how to write (tone).

The bottomline is, you journal on your own terms. 

Art Journaling


2 - Guided​ Journaling

As the term implies, guided journaling follows a guide, model or blueprint.

You get directions by way of:

  • prompts
  • instructions
  • guidelines
  • structure
  • topics
  • themes
  • templates​
  • questions
  • patterns
  • examples
  • quotes
  • spaces
  • dots
  • timing
  • reminders
  • ticklers.

​Here's an example.

For a 30-day gratitude journal, you get leads on what to write about on each day of journaling. 

​You are usually asked to list 3-5 things that you are thankful for.

What concrete ways or specific actions you would do to express gratitude. 

For inspiration, you find quotations on top or below a number of lined pages. 

Blank spaces are provided for doodles or drawings. ​

In general, you follow a guide for each day of journaling. ​


3 - Art Journaling

How to Journal

Journals are great to express creativity, whether done through free journal writing or guided writing. 

However, there's a third way that has grown in popularity among artists and non-artists alike.

It is art journaling.

Art journaling is keeping a visual or graphic journal or diary using art, imagery and text.

Graphic art like what you see in an art journal is touching, moving and powerful.

An art journal is usually peppered with words or phrases, drawings, doodles, sketches, paintings, charts, cut-outs, photos, shapes, stickers, symbols, quotes, conversations, poems, songs, stories, patterns, graphic marks, and whatever feels good to be on the journal pages. 

Artistic or flat?​

Colored or plain? 

​Clean or messy?

Planned or random?​

Comprehensible or not?​

​They are immaterial. 

What counts is expressing (or making sense of) what you think and feel in graphic and visual form.


4 - Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling is a way of keeping track of things you want and need to do using a notebook.

A bullet journal has seven parts:

Part 1 - Key

​The first page of your bullet journal is your key, which shows the codes you use for your bullet entries.

Here are the traditional codes that you may adopt, modify or add to: ​

Traditional Bullet Journalling Codes

? (Dot) Task

X Completed Task

> Migrated Task

? Appointment

? Completed Appointment

? Migrated Appointment

- Notes

Part 2 - Index

Your next two to four pages are for indexing. The index will let you quickly find any collection, or get to a particular month.

Title each page as an index page and move on to the next section.​

Part 3 - Future Log

​This two-page spread records the coming 6 months. It is great for recording events or planned activities such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

For convenience, you may use the traditional yearly calendar for this.

Be sure to add or note the page number and record your future log in your index.

Part 4 - Monthly log

​Each month, do a monthly log where you record appointments and due dates. You may use a grid layout, or one line for each day of the month.

While the monthly log isn’t where you’ll track most of your tasks, it comes in handy when you need to take note of a doctor's appointment or scheduled school meeting. 

Part 5 - Daily Log​

​This is where you’ll spend most of your journaling time.

Here's what you do:

  • Each day, start a new section.
  • Create your to-do list including things you need done, reminders, concerns, and anything you find important.
  • Cross off each item when done or taken care of.
  • Move the items to the monthly or future log, or migrate them to a different day, as needed.

Part 6 - Migrating Tasks

This part is done at the end of the day or first thing in the morning.

The goal here is dealing with each entry from your daily list by ensuring that they are done, recorded as done, crossed out if already irrelevant, and migrated to the next day's list.

Here are the steps for this:

  • Review your list of tasks set for the day past
  • Complete those that you still can
  • Cross out tasks already done or no longer needed
  • Migrate tasks that were not checked off or done.

Part 7 - Collections​

This is a thematical list or collection of things of interest to you, whether personal or professional.

Examples of this are places to visit, people to work with, courses to attend, books to write, among others.

To build your collections, follow these steps:

  • Start each list on a blank page.
  • Label or create a title for each one.
  • Write down the content for each collection.
  • Note down the page you’re on and add the collection to your index page.


Which Is the Better One

​Between the four, which is the better style?

Who knows?

Noone can tell but you.

There's no right or wrong way.​

The most important part is starting your journal and keeping at it for as long as you can. 

For tips on how to journal, read this post here