The benefits of documenting your life story

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Documenting Your Life Story can be a therapeutic tool.

Read on

In her memoirs, Debby Bitticks writes, there are 101 reasons to document the story of your life. These include: remembering the challenges and triumphs you faced during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and throughout your life journey.

Writing gives you an opportunity to analyze your past while gaining insight about who you are today. It gives you an incredible amount of understanding how your experiences have influenced the path you have chosen in life.

It also will allow you to understand and become aware of ambitions, trips, accomplishments and dreams that you have not yet realized. According to many studies, humans were not meant to live for a few decades or even a hundred years. They were meant to live for longer than that.

Debby Bitticks is the creator of “Cherished Memories”. This is a 96-page guide for documenting your life story or that of a loved one or someone you love or loved very much. Debby says: It’s good for your health.
Matthew Solan, who is an executive editor of Harvard’s Men’s Health Watch, said a little bit more regarding this. In his article: “The actual writing aspect also can be a therapeutic tool as you explore issues that may still trouble you.

A study published in the March 2018 JAMA Psychiatry found that writing about a specific memory, even if it was upsetting to you, was just as effective as cognitive processing therapy, often used in treating adults with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Imagine – the mental health cost savings alone !

In fact her husband Ken Bitticks, used her book in order to document his own father’s life. He admits: “As we’re going through this with my father, one of the things that was absolutely amazing to me is that here’s a man 85 years old, and I started going through the questions, guiding him through discussion, [and] I realized I knew almost nothing about him. You think you know your parent, but you really don’t.”

The Benefits Are multiple dimensional

Capturing a life story is more than just a little bit of storytelling. It’s a chance to also pass along wisdom and life lessons to others. Those others, may be your family, children, grandchildren, and or mankind in general.

It will give you an opportunity to exercise your memory; and we all need that.
It will also help you organize your photos, your favorite songs and music; and it will help you discover if any events from your past are still impacting your life.

According to Debby Bitticks, this wonderful exercise will give you an opportunity for self-growth, reflection and self awareness. It’s also an opportunity and a chance to strengthen family bonds, friendships and intimate relationships. The benefits are multi dimensional.

For instance, you can start by capturing or writing down your health history and even draft an ethical will to share your values, your past and present blessings, your life’s lessons, good and not so good. It will give you additional hope and dreams for the future, love and forgiveness with your family, friends and community. We were not meant to live just for a few decades nor a hundred years. Some acknowledge we were meant to live forever, sometimes.

Where do I Start, you may ask ?

According to Betty, you don’t have to start at the beginning. You could start by writing about the places you have lived and the homes you’ve owned or lived in. It could be your childhood house, the first home you remember, or the home where your kids were raised.

If you had brothers or sisters, or if you had none, it doesn’t matter. The idea is to write down your wonderful and not so wonderful memories. It will give a boost to your life.
Any photos you may have with you or stored in a carefully protected place, will definetely bring back memories and stories. How wonderful it can be, some say.

“Or you can use writing prompts, like the ones Debby has collected in “Cherished Memories.” Debby organizes her book as follows: Time of Birth – to Twelve. Then she writes about “My Teen Years; My Adult Life; Values & Philosophies; My Favorites; My Family Tree; My Health History; Additional Thoughts & Stories; Extra Pages: Photographs: Articles/Documents.”

Brendan Kearney, a well recognized wellness coach at Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life, said: “You would be surprised at how interested your peers and family members are in your stories and personal history.

You have a unique firsthand account of your culture and history that others don’t, and leaving a recorded history of your life can be an important gift to both you and your descendants.”

What if you say, well, I’m Not a Writer!

Don’t let that stop you. Perhaps someone can audio interview you, and then you can have the audio transcribed. You may use transcription tools like Sonix, InqScribe or Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
You may want do that also, when interviewing a loved one as well. There are some excellent writing ideas if you’re up to the wonderful challenge of writing your memoirs.

For example: Write a little bit every day, and perhaps just for a short period of time. Also, the suggestion is to write at the same time of day.

One article on the subject suggest writing by hand, as doing so can activate parts of the brain that are associated with short- and long-term memory. Scientists say that the slower process can help improve attention and information processing.

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Debby is on a mission to have everyone capture their life story. Don’t procastinate. Start now !