Marion Milner (1900-1998), was a British author and psychoanalyst, and a pioneer of introspective journaling. At the age of 26 she began to keep a diary, this was because it slowly became clear to her that, her life was not as it ought to be, although from external point of view it was going very well, since she was earning her living in interesting work, having a full leisure life and plenty of friends. The book ‘A Life of One’s Own’ grew out of this seven years diary and this amply exhibits what journaling and dairy writing do. Following are excerpts from this book which was first published in 1934.
“When I first began, at the end of each day, to go through what had happened and pick out what seemed best to me, I had quite unexpected results. Before I began this experiment, when I had drifted through life unquestioningly, I had measured my life in terms of circumstances. I had thought I was happy when I was having what was generally considered ‘a good time’. But when I began to try and balance up each day’s happiness I had found that there were certain moments which had a special quality of their own, a quality which seemed to be almost independent of what was going on around me, since they occurred sometimes on the most trivial occasions. They stood out because of a feeling of happiness which was far beyond what I had ordinarily meant by ‘enjoying myself’, and because of this they tended to oust all other concerns in my daily record.”
“By keeping a diary of what made me happy I had discovered that happiness came when I was most widely aware. So I had finally come to the conclusion that my task was to become more and more aware, more and more understanding with an understanding that was not at all the same thing as intellectual comprehension. I had come to realize that it was not, after all, a question of a life of consciousness as against a life of natural impulse; for without consciousness, for me at least, there was no freedom of natural expression, but only a clash of haphazardly acquired conventions and welter of opposing and misunderstood ideals. Without understanding I was at the mercy of blind habit; with understanding, I could develop my own rules for living and find out which of the conflicting exhortations of a changing civilization was appropriate to my needs.”