10 Journal Prompts That Can Change Your Life

Written by Kerry Pieri

“Writing is an act of discovering what you think and what you believe,” (Dan Pink). When you sit and put pen to paper it’s almost shocking what you can discover. The things that are revealed when you take the time to excavate them can change how you see yourself and the world and how you live in it. Of course, you can do this on any day, at any time of the year, but there’s something about January that gives a sense of exquisite possibility for newness. A blank page can feel daunting, so we’ve assembled 10 quotes from books that delve into the subconscious, the shadow, and overall healing in ways that we’ve found to be profound to get you started. We’ve followed these up with journal prompts that should shift your perspective, and ideally, your way of engaging with yourself and others around you. Change can happen slowly but it starts with the first minute. Pick up a new journal and get started. 

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

LOUISE L. HAY, You Can Heal Your Life

The Prompt: Spend one day writing down every single time you criticize yourself internally or out loud, to yourself and to other people. Spend the next day and the day after that and the day after that being aware of these critiques and doing it less each day.

“Imagine being the best possible version of yourself, what would bring you closest to being that person? The best possible version of yourself is the most loving, kind, productive, fulfilled one. What kind of life would move you in that direction” 

The Mountain is You by Brianna Weist

The Prompt: Answer the above and then write about your ideal day. What would it look like from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. Where are you living? What are you doing?

“He will discover in himself a need to live according to his true self and no longer be forced to earn ‘ love’ that always leaves him empty handed since it is given to his false self—something that he has begun to identify and relinquish.”

The Drama of the Gifted Child, The Search for True Self by Alice Miller 

The Prompt: What do you do in your daily life with family, or with friends or even at work (outside of what’s in your job description) that you don’t want to be doing or makes you feel badly, but you believe that others expect of you in order to make them feel happy or seen?

“Freedom is being able to choose whoever and whatever you want to be at any moment in your life. If you have to act in a particular way to avoid being something you don’t like, you’re trapped. You’ve limited your freedom and robbed yourself of your wholeness. If you can’t be lazy, you can’t be free. If you can’t be angry when something upsetting happens, you can’t be free.”

 The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance, and Dreams, by Debbie Ford

The Prompt: What do you not do that makes you feel good because it also makes you feel guilty? Why do you feel guilty? What are you suppressing? If you don’t want to lay on the sofa for an hour and watch Netflix is it because you think it will make you seem lazy? Find the word that feels most negative in association with the activity or feeling you’re holding back and describe exactly why this is a “bad” way to be.  

“Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. Stop trying to change reality. That’s crazy. Stop trying to change the other person. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies and everybody else. We don’t have to change anything. Negative feelings are in you. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy…” 

Awareness, The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony DeMello

The Prompt: Who or what are you giving your power away to? Social media? A friend who expects too much of your time and energy? Examine where your time and mental space goes to daily that it doesn’t need to. This may mean actually cataloging where your time is spent each day.

“Once you’re in the sweet spot of the generous present moment, where all possibilities exist…how do you turn one or more of those potentials into reality? This requires two things: a clear intention and an elevated emotion…You have to get clear on what it is you want to create, getting as specific as possible…Make it as detailed as possible. Make it as real as you can.” -Becoming Supernatural, How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza The Prompt: What is one ideal, dream scenario for the coming year? Write out what that looks like and feels like in detail. 

A Personal Legend is what “you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone when they are young knows what their personal legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” 

The Alchemist, A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho

The Prompt: What is your personal legend? Reflect on what your earliest dreams were. 

“The ego is a belief in finite sources, but love is infinite. Whenever love is added to any part of the system, there is an increase to every part. Love only gives love to more love.” 

A Return to Love, Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson 

The Prompt: Where are you feeling limited? In love, in career, in familial relationships? Where do you think there’s not enough for you? Where did this idea start? In your childhood? Your religion? Dive into it. 

“Investigate your relationship with the world of things through observation, and in particular, things that are designated with the word, ‘my’. You need to be alert and honest to find out whether your sense of self worth is bound up in things you possess. Do certain things induce  a subtle feeling of importance or superiority? Do the lack of them make you feel inferior to others who have more than you do? Do you feel resentful or angry or somehow diminished in your sense of self when someone else has more than you do or when you lose a prized possession?” 

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle 

The Prompt: Examine your answers to the above and then determine where else is a more positive place to channel your sense of self esteem? Where are you allowing yourself to feel less than due to external circumstances?

“The artist and the fundamentalist both confront the same issue, the mysteries of their existence as individuals. Each asks the same questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?” 

The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield 

The Prompt: Those three wildly important questions are your last:  Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?