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How Oprah Winfrey Uses the Habit of Journaling to Build Mental Strength

Billionaire media giant and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is best known for hosting her own talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” from 1986 to 2011. In the show’s first year, it reached an audience of 10 million people, grossing $125 million, of which Winfrey received $30 million. She is now worth an estimated $2.8 billion, according to Forbes.

In 2000, she founded O Magazine, which according to their website, now has a circulation of 2.4 million per year – mainly consisting of paid subscriptions. Winfrey launched “Oprah’s Book Club” as a segment on her show. TIME magazine later referred to the club as “the greatest force in publishing today, with the power to raise authors from the dead or crucify them on the national stage.”

Not showing any signs of slowing down, Winfrey then launched her own television network, “The Oprah Winfrey Network,” and recently sold 24.5% of the company to Discovery Communications for $70 million. She also has a 10% stake in Weight Watchers that is worth an estimated $344 million.

How Oprah Winfrey uses journaling to build her mental strength

Winfrey has without a doubt achieved more in her lifetime than most of us can come to expect, but she hasn’t been without her fair share of low points. Brought up in extreme poverty, and subjected to abuse as a child, Winfrey has had one constant that she claims has helped her throughout her life – her journal – in which she writes on a daily basis.

After being swept away by a busy schedule, Winfrey revisited her journaling routine in the 1990s and has continued it ever since, citing it as an excellent way to build mental stability and strength.

“You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots,” according to Winfrey.

It’s Oprah’s way of practicing gratitude, and remembering the smaller things in life that are important to her amidst the frantic chaos of her busy lifestyle.

How to make a habit of journaling like Oprah Winfrey

Implement the following sub-habits into your daily routine if you want to incorporate journaling to your lifestyle.

1. Write down things that you are grateful for every day

Writing down your thoughts and feeling is much more powerful than just saying them out loud or keeping them in your head. As outlined in our piece on Tony Robbins, people tend to make poor decisions when they’re angry or fearful, but gratitude can alleviate both of these, according to Robbins. You can start by:

Writing down one thing you’re grateful for each day

For example, maybe someone held the door open for you, or gave you the change you were missing for an item you bought in the grocery store. You can then increase the frequency of this routine each week or month until you reach 3-5 points or more each day.

2. Read back and reflect over previous journal entries

Reminding yourself of how grateful you’ve been over the last day, week or month is a much more effective practice than you’d think.

How had I, with all my options and opportunities, become one of those people who never have time to feel delight? I was stretched in so many directions, I wasn’t feeling much of anything. Too busy doing,” said Oprah.

Her approach was to read through her older diary entries to remind her of times when she felt gratitude in it’s abundance. It’s a simple practice to start, for example, with:

Each day, review one entry from a previous day

As you enter more into your journal you can take more time to review weeks, or months worth of entries, and thus, building up a stronger sense of gratitude.

3. Share your gratitude with other people

Rather than discussing the things you want or don’t have, share the things you do have and why you’re grateful for them with other people. Oprah took this to a whole different level by publicly sharing her older diary entries online, but you can start with:

Share one of your journal entries with a friend or colleague once each week

You can then increase how often and to whom you share your journal entries with each week or month.



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