I mentioned on Tuesday that I'd been reading up on goal setting theory. At one point, I was working my way through a chapter on goal pursuit when I came across a paragraph containing the following two sentences:
“Sad mood has been found to facilitate problem solving and signals a need for changing the status quo. ... These studies imply that sad mood supports the generation of self-regulation strategies that lead to wise commitment to potential goals.”*
I didn't know that. In my notes, after the above quote, I wrote, "Huh! Who'd have thought?"
Just then a diary excerpt popped to mind. It was one that I had noted, but had decided not to use because it seemed a bit depressing for a light-hearted blog post. It was this one:
diary again. It’s sad to be going back to old habits I gave up since I
got married. I used to write when I felt depressed – now I suppose it’s
for the same reason.” (Sofia Tolstoy, Russian diarist and wife of novelist Leo Tolstoy, October 8, 1862, age 18)**
Possibly it's just me, and this may already be quite obvious, but learning something new about problem solving while sad and remembering the diary excerpt made something click for me.
Do you ever have the impulse to journal when you're upset or down? I certainly do. Perhaps, deep down (or right there on the surface), that impulse to journal represents more than the simple desire to vent or despair, but also the desire to solve a problem that we know needs solving. Perhaps these are the moments when one's journal becomes more than a record of events. Perhaps these are the moments when journaling offers a unique opportunity to think on paper, to put challenges into perspective, to clarify our aims, to determine the best manner in which to move in the direction of our goals. Perhaps these are the moments when we are reminded that journaling can be a powerful tool for transformative change.
It's definitely something I'll be thinking about in the journal entries to come.
* From New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance, edited by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, p. 527-8
** From The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy, English language translation and Introduction by Cathy Porter