Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Keeping a Happiness Journal

In these early days of the new year, glistening with opportunity and hope, many people are still working on their resolutions. 

If you're anything like me this might include something like “working on a happiness project” or “learning to appreciate the good more”. In fact, life/self-improvement is second only to fitness goals when it comes to making a new years pledge.

Frankly, with a year like 2016 behind us (oy-vey!) I think we could all use a little bit more happy in our lives. Today I’d like to share with you my favourite tool to recognizing that feeling:

A happiness journal.

My Story

My happiness journal story begins, as you can probably imagine, not so happily.

In 4th year university, I found myself in a pretty dark place. With my family in upheaval, roommate relationships disintegrating, and finding myself the unhappy victim of gas lighting in my on-again-off-again 4 year relationship, happiness wasn’t an easy feeling to come by.

To add to that, I was about to graduate into a just-post-2008 world that was still reeling with low employment (but up in Canada, an EVER increasing real estate market… go figure), and wasn't sure what I was going to do next.

Stress really doesn’t even begin to cover it.

So after a few months of trying everything from therapy to yoga, I came to a decision. I don’t remember how it happened exactly, but I made a plan to keep a happiness journal.

What IS a happiness journal?

A happiness journal is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a journal where you record the happy, the good, the inspiring in your day. It allows you to take control and notice more of the wonderful things in life, rather than letting yourself dwell on the bad.

It’s also dead easy and doesn’t require much of a time commitment, you can easily do it in 10 minutes each day.

The Steps!

There are only 2 steps:

Step 1 - external happy: During the day (or at the end of the day if you have a good memory), write down all the nice things that happen to you or around you, compliments you receive, things that just go your WAY! 

  • Someone tells you good job on a report, write it down
  • someone says “I love your hair today!” you write that down. 
  • You have a nice conversation with a complete stranger, write it down! 
  • You see an 85 year old couple holding hands walking down the street, you write that down because it is the single cutest thing to see old people in love! 
  • A baby smiles at you? Also amazing… you get the drift

Step 2 - internal happy: At the end of the day, write down 3 things (at least!) that YOU feel good about from your day. 

These are things that you can OWN that made you feel good. Self validation that can include everything from feeling like your outfit is on point, to educational/workplace accomplishments, to just taking time to read and drink tea under a blanket with your puppy.

For example:

  • You made it to the gym and got in a great work out (or just GOT there! That’s a victory!)
  • You made a healthy meal
  • You wore your new leather jacket and felt like a rock star all day
  • You helped someone in need
  • You hit 10,000 steps on your fitbit (SUCH a good feeling),
  • You called a good friend to chat and made them laugh, because you are FUNNY. 

The takeaway!

This process will feel awkward at first, but here’s what you’ll notice: after the first week or two you’ll start paying more attention to all the NICE and WONDERFUL and KIND and AWESOME things that happen around you and to you. 

You’ll have more confidence, feel better, and appreciate the day-to-day more

The journal also serves as a reminder. If you’re not having a good day, you can go back and read it, read about all the wonderful things that happen each and every day in your life and know that it’s going to be okay. tomorrow will hold good things because, heck, look at all the awesome stuff you’ve got written down in the last week alone!

Whether you’re struggling to find some happy, or just looking to notice more of the good in this world, I encourage you to try a happiness journal. It’s as easy as 1, 2…. Well just 1 & 2!

Besides, your first entry is all ready and set: 

“I started a happiness journal today, because the world is full of happy, and I don’t want to miss it!”

PS: If you liked this post, why don't you check out these posts!