Health & wellbeing

Write yourself happy

09 May 2024 | Written by Marina O'Shea

Ahead of the next ‘Writing for wellbeing‘ workshop, The Joy Club member and wonderful host Susanna Lewis shares her thoughts on the idea of writing yourself happy.

The Dalai Lama once said, ‘The point of life is happiness’ and yet, sometimes it can be difficult to reach a fulfilling, happy life due to events outside our control. Poor health, bereavement, redundancy, family problems, divorce and even moving house can all affect our level of happiness. We all know that happiness is the most desirable way to be, but the state of being happy is so much more than feeling good. 

Happy people have a stronger immune system and are less likely to catch viruses or common illnesses. As a result of this, happy people can cope better with stressful situations and subsequently are more likely to live longer. When we are happy, we are more productive and we have a greater zest for life and are more keen to try new activities and go on new adventures. Keeping active in later life helps prevent negative mental health issues from settling in, such as anxiety and depression and even apathy. 

And so, can you really ‘write yourself happy?’ Well, I believe that you can. And the good news is that EVERYONE can write, regardless of background, education and experience. All you need is a pen and paper and the willingness to try and improve your wellbeing. 

So how can the simple act of writing words on a blank piece of paper improve your level of happiness? 

  1. Writing can help you vent your emotions without verbally saying them out loud. 
  2. Writing can help you see things from a different point of view.
  3. Writing can give you clarity when you feel confused & unsure what to do next.
  4. Writing can help you work out what is really important to you.
  5. Writing can give you a sense of calm during stressful times. 
  6. Writing can help you plan changes to your life in a concise way. 
  7. Writing can help you feel creative & give you a sense of worth.
  8. Writing can help you discover ‘the real you.’
  9. Writing can help you organise your life more efficiently.
  10. Writing can ultimately help you feel happier & more content.

There has been extensive research into the science and psychology behind the power of writing and how it can help improve our wellbeing. This research has shown that even writing and journaling during times of extreme stress, for example, following a close bereavement can have a marked, positive effect on a person’s mental health. This research is proof that ‘writing does heal’ a tired and depleted mind. But, there is so much more to writing than simply using it as a healing tool when things go wrong in our life. Writing is a wonderful way to bring calmness and peace into our daily life which in turn fills up our feeling of happiness. Writing about positive emotions can really help boost our self-esteem and feeling of self-worth and so it is important to recognise that writing can be used for both positive and negative emotions. 

Writing for wellbeing can have a long term and short-term effect on a person’s life. The short-term effects are obvious. We feel immediately relieved of negative emotional symptoms and can instantly find a route out of our low mood. On a positive note, writing in this way can lead to more opportunities for writing, maybe even publishing your own poetry book or novel. In my experience, writing leads to more writing and many of my students have gone on to develop their writing craft and have become a published author. 

You really can ‘write yourself happy’ whatever your circumstances, age or background. You  need a pen and paper (or in my case, a pretty notebook) and some time set aside each day in which you can write freely without interruption. 

Why not join my ‘Writing for wellbeing’ class on Monday 13th May at 11am, here at The Joy Club, in which you can learn and explore the wonderful world of creative writing.

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