As someone who has journaled off and on throughout my life, I have to admit that the last few years have been more off than on. I’d always appreciated the process and found it an excellent outlet for organizing my thoughts, but had somewhat fallen out of the habit.
Over the last year or so, I somehow seemed to keep stumbling on one article or another about the benefits of journal-keeping, but couldn’t quite get back into making it a habit. Enter The 5 Minute Journal.
I decided to try it after hearing an interview with one of its creators, UJ Ramdas. It incorporates some of the basic principles of positive psychology, and that’s what got my attention at first. I also appreciated that the beginning of the day starts out with three things you are grateful for. Knowing the benefits that a grateful mindset can bring (better health, more happiness and stronger relationships, for starters), I got hooked in a bit further.
I’ve been keeping the journal for almost two months now and here is what I’ve found:
- It really doesn’t take more than a few minutes, morning and night.
- The book starts out with a clear explanation of the principles behind the morning and evening prompts. For example, starting the day with three things you are grateful for automatically puts you in a state of not only looking for the good things in your life, but being mindful of them.
- The morning prompts set you up to be intentional about your day. Asking yourself, “What would make today great?” at the beginning of the day acts as a catalyst that programs you to be more purposeful about how you go about your day. Improving your days on a daily basis over time lead to an improved, happier existence.
- That same question (“What would make today great?”?) also serves as inspiration – encouraging you to look at specific actions you can take to make it a good day, what you have control over. (“Going for a run with my dog,” is something within your control ; having that great job land in your lap, not so much…..) The more you act successfully on your own behalf, the more empowered – and better – you begin to feel.
- I’ve found that reflecting on three “amazing” things that happened during the day has helped me to focus on things I may have otherwise overlooked. Recent entries for me have included things like a surprise call from a long-ago friend, a beautiful spring day, an interesting conversation, and a red BMW convertible in the lane next to me filled with 3 (HUGE) St. Bernard’s out for a ride.
- The evening question, “How could I have made today even better?” effectively encourages actionable problem-solving and trains me to look for better ways to do things next time. Since life (mine, at least) tends to have recurring problems, I get a chance to think about what I might do next time in the same circumstance.
Each day starts with an inspiring quote, and the book itself has a rather simple, minimalist look to it. I’ve never really been one to journal in the morning but now that I have, I’m enjoying having those few minutes to plan what I’d like my day to look like.
Overall, this journal has been a simple, yet effective investment of my time each day. Some critiques I’ve read are the price (I paid $22.00, the journal lasts 6 months), and that it can become repetitive. I find that the consistency of the questions works well, for me at least. Knowing I’ll be answering the same questions each day is training my mind to be on the lookout for the answers. I’m definitely a fan of The 5 Minute Journal.