10 Benefits of Writing Your Autobiography

Exercise your right to tell your own story in your own words – write an autobiography! Your life is important. You have taken on challenges and won the day. You moved the human condition forward and bettered the earth. Tell your story. Inspire yourself and others!

Years ago, many made fun of older folks who would ramble through their memories. Not until the 1970’s when Robert N. Butler, MD, president of the New York—based International Longevity Center, pioneered the concept of and coined the term “life review” did scientists and psychologists realize the importance of reviewing your life, integrating your memories and making sense out of what you did and thought and were. Not only is it important, it is also beneficial.

Here are some of the benefits of writing your autobiography.

You will leave a legacy – your story.

You may think you have lived an unremarkable life, but succeeding generations will be interested in hearing it. What you consider normal and mundane will be interesting and slightly exotic to them. My Father wrote in his autobiography about crossing the nation in a model T car – about following the road by using the white markers previous travelers put up. He lived it, so to him it was normal and mundane, but to me and my children, it is a tale from history.

You can speak directly across time to your descendants.

In the book “The Town”, Conrad Richter, describes the thoughts of the youngest son of Saird Luckett at her funeral. Saird was the main character through the Richter trilogy about early American pioneers. She was hard working, street smart and tough as nails. Her youngest intends to have her remembered as mean, overbearing, slow witted and out of date. Write your own story for your descendants so they know the truth of your life.

You will help protect the history of your family.

You may be telling all the stories you can about your life and your take on things, but that won’t assure you that it will be remembered the way you are telling it! Have you ever noticed that each of us can see the exact same event and come up with extraordinarily different versions of that event?

How many times have you heard someone you told your story to pass it along to anyone else? Some families do this well, but most don’t anymore. We rely on written or recorded information much more than verbal histories.

Record your story and make sure it is woven into the history of your family.

You may inspire someone else with your story.

Remember those challenges you conquered? What about those problems you solved? Someone else, somewhere on the planet needs to hear how you did those things. They need to understand that it is possible and they need to be inspired by the way you conquered and solved them.

It opens the door to reconcile open issues from your past.

When you review your life from start to present, you will encounter unresolved items. Perhaps you harbor resentment of your mother for making you give your allowance to the church. Maybe your father beat you in front of your friends and embarrassed you. Reviewing your life and accomplishments can cause you to see how you have overcome real and perceived obstacles such as these. Reflection can help you move past the feelings and perhaps provide a path to reconciliation with relatives, friends or business associates.

It forces you to develop more self-discipline.

Reliving your memories, writing down the facts and dates and events of your life and organizing them into a cohesive story with an interesting theme will require time, effort and persistence. As with any skill, the more you practice self-discipline the better you become at it. Increased self-discipline will help you in practically all areas of your life.

You will get ideas to improve yourself.

Perhaps as you reflect on your past accomplishments and your approach to life, you find that you aren’t all that satisfied with what you see. The good news is that there is still time to reinvent yourself. You can use your review to identify and move towards ways to reach that better you.

It strengthens your sense of purpose in your later years.

Through most of our lives, we endure the process of letting go. As we age, we sometimes walk away from jobs that gave meaning to our days. We’ve had to let go of our children, day by day, until they are grown and gone and don’t need us anymore.  We have an ever increasing sense of our own mortality, with the final end being giving up of our very lives. All of this may make us lose purpose. We think, ‘Why bother?’.

As we reflect on our past, however, and find unfinished business or new goals to achieve, we can find renewed purpose for the remainder of our lives.

You will increase self awareness and understanding of yourself.

Most of us are crazy busy during youth and midlife. We have so much to learn as youngsters and so many responsibilities in midlife that there is little time to reflect. As a consequence, many of us feel that we are like a pinball, being bounced from one thing to another, with no real conception of what is really happening and why or whether it is what we want from life.

Life review helps us figure out who we really have been, are and want to be. It helps us understand ourselves.

Your own sense of well being grows.

As you tell your story, you realize that your life had and has meaning and that at least some parts of it were well lived. As a result, you increase your own self esteem. Your satisfaction with yourself and your life will rise. You should lose those nagging doubts about your own self worth and accept yourself as a valuable member of the human race.

Have I convinced you to write your autobiography? If so, here is a resource that might help you get started. It is a short eBook from the site Life Memories and Stories dot com. It is called Writing an Autobiography.

Although I keep a monthly log, I’ve made no attempt to organize it into a cohesive autobiography, so I’m planning on using sources like this to help me get started.

Have you written your autobiography? What tips do you have for us?

Here are a few other sources:

  • http://homecareassistance.com/benefits-writing-autobiography/ http://recreationtherapy.com/articles/autobiographical.htm
  • http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/benefits-of-memoir-writing/
  • http://www.beliefnet.com/healthandhealing/getcontent.aspx?cid=13422

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