If you are anything like me you may struggle at times with feelings of ingratitude, unhappiness or a lack of focus. One of the tools I have been using to combat these feelings is called "The Five-Minute Journal.” This journal is a simple tool tthat literally can take 5 minutes or so and you are done! The creators of the journal described it this way, “The Five Minute Journal is your secret weapon to focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention. With a simple structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude. Side effects may include: increased happiness, better relationships, and becoming more optimistic. You’ve been warned.
The journal is laid out in a straightforward manner (see picture below).
In the morning you write 3 things you are grateful for. They don't have to be big ticket items. It can be as simple as your morning coffee, a good nights sleep, and your job. Next you write 3 things that could happen today to make your day great. Again, these do not have to be what we typically consider significant things. They could be things like, if I got my homework done, if I got to be outside, if I go on a date with my girlfriend. Finally you finish up with an affirmation about yourself. Affirmation isn’t necessarily a word we use a lot but according to dictionary.com it means, “1. the act or an instance of affirming; state of being affirmed. 2. the assertion that something exists or is true.3. something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.” In this case the affirmation in your journal would be saying something true and positive about yourself. It might be something like, “I am a valuable employee and indispensable to my team.” Or “I am healthy, strong, and athletic.” The idea of this journal is to gradually rewire your brain to think in a positive and grateful manner about yourself and see the significance and meaning in even the small things in our lives we often take for granted.
At night there is another area where you will do a journal entry. First you will write 3 amazing things that happened today. You might wander how you will be able to think of 3 AMAZING things that happen each and every day. This is exactly the point. Amazing things DO happen to us every day we just take them for granted. For example, getting a good grade on an assignment, having your best workout in a long time, kissing your wife goodbye in the morning, seeing the sun rise. All of those are amazing! The last part of the daily journal entry asks the question, how could I have made today even better? This is an opportunity to reflect on your day as a whole, figure out what you could have changed, and set in your mind how you will make tomorrow great. This question is prepping you for a better tomorrow and putting the responsibility on YOU to make it a good day. The responsibility is NOT on the environment or other people.
You can get the 5 Minute Journal in 2 formats. One is the physical journal you can find at: https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-journal. There is also an electronic version you can download on the Apple application store by searching for “5 min journal". Either choice is great but I prefer physically writing so I have the actual journal.
On our quest to become the best version of ourselves this is a great tool to add to our toolbox. I challenge you to try it for at least 30 days and I think you will notice a big difference in your gratefulness and positivity. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you will accept the challenge!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder