Writing one’s life story is a common goal for many retirees, who plan to take advantage of the leisure time they are afforded after quitting the daily 9 to 5 grind. But, according to a recent U.S. News, Health segment article, written by Anthony Cirillo, relaying a person’s life story is not simply a way to create an account of experiences—it can also promote mental health and inspiration.
According to the creator of Cherished Memories, Debby Bitticks, there are over 100 reasons to write your life story. Cherished Memories is a guide to documenting your own life story, or that of a loved one. Cirillo explains that Debbie can now add another reason to record one’s life’s journey—it’s good for your mental health.
What Do the Experts Say?
Matthew Solan, executive editor of Harvard’s Men’s Health Watch, explained, “The actual writing aspect also can be a therapeutic tool as you explore issues that may still trouble you.
A recent study, published in 2018 in JAMA Psychiatry, discovered that writing about an emotionally upsetting memory was as effective as interacting with a professional therapist (using cognitive processing therapy) for adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Benefits of Writing One’s Life Story
There are many additional benefits of writing one’s life story (as if getting free therapy is not enough)! Some of the other perks of writing include:
- Passing along wisdom and life’s lessons to the younger generation
- Utilizing your memory and thinking skills (organizing timelines, photos and historical records)
- Reflecting on past experiences (offers an opportunity for self-growth)
- Sharing values and inspiration
- Strengthening family bonds (by interviewing family members about past events)
What to Write About
If you are unsure about how to organize the account of your personal journey, Debbie offers some ideas, including:
- Write about places you have lived
- Give an account of the homes you’ve resided in
- Describe where your kids were raised
- Organize ideas by age, including:
- birth to twelve
- teenage years
- adult life
- Write about values and philosophies
- My favorites
- My Family Tree
- Additional thoughts and stories
- Extra pages for photographs and articles or documents
Although you may feel that nobody would be very interested in reading your life’s story, according to Harvard-affiliated wellness coach, Brendan Kearney, “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.” Consider how valuable your account of family experiences and historical happenstances might be for a great grandchild who never had the privilege of learning life’s lessons first-hand from their great grandparent.
Even if you are not a writer, you can record your life story and have someone else write it, or consider using a transcription tool such as InqScribe, Sonix or Dragon. Writing your story out in long hand form instead of typing on a keyboard, has been said to activate parts of the brain associated with memory, improve focus, and promote information processing.
Everyone Should Capture Their Life Story
U.S. News author, Anthony Cirillo, is offering a free PDF of Debbie’s book, Cherished Memories, to support Debbie’s mission “to have everyone capture their life story.” To get your free PDF copy, email Anthony at, [email protected]. Happy writing!