The 5 Minute Journal is a fantastic introduction to daily journaling and daily gratitude practice.
I received mine about a year ago and began using it regularly. What does it include?
There are sections for your morning and evening. I used mine regularly for about 3 weeks before losing my streak and not using it much at all. I ended up coming back to it and just doing the morning portion because that was more sustainable for me.
Why is this a useful tool?
It begins your day with reflecting on what you are grateful for by asking the question, “What are you grateful for?” This helps you actually think and feel enjoyment for the good in your life. And there is a LOT of good in your life (and mine). This is a hand-holding way to get you to physically write down 3 things daily that you are grateful for.
I noticed that I feel noticeably better after writing in my journal. The first few days, and this may sound cheesy, I felt like I was radiating good vibes.
The second morning portion is “What would make today great?”
This helps you consolidate your plan of action for the day and gives you a target for what a successful day would be if you could picture it now.
This changed for me from a to-do list (which it’s not supposed to be) to thinking about an ideal day, across work and home life. I usually include something having to do with fun with my wife and son, something productive-related to my job and a wildcard that depends on the day.
Usually, if I can get one thing accomplished at work, laugh & play with my son after work and then one other thing, that’s a pretty successful day to me. And this tool has allowed me to work through and discover that over the course of 25 weeks.
The third morning portion is the Daily Affirmation. I like affirmations in general, but writing out the same one daily has not resonated as well with me as the other two sections. I still did it, but I always felt disingenuous and like I was forcing it.
I like the idea, but I didn’t see as much of an impact to my day as with the other portions.
The evening portion is a reflection on your day. This is done with two questions, “What 3 amazing things happened today?” and “How could i have made today better?
I abandoned this section for a majority of my time with the 5 Minute Journal, and not because it wasn’t useful. I didn’t use it at night because it wasn’t practical to come back to it at night. Some nights I lay with my son to get him to sleep and then sneak out to go to sleep myself. Some nights I barely make it to bed at all.
The other and more important reason I didn’t use this section was because the amazing things portion felt fake and the improvements felt like regret. Some days, nothing that I would call amazing happened and I felt like I was being fake by saying that my bus came on time was amazing (bad example but you get the idea).
The part about how could you have made today better always felt like my day wasn’t good enough. Try to think of three ways stuff didn’t go right today always felt like I was going to sleep on a sour note. I’d rather just stop after the amazing things.
So, combining the logistics and the vibe of the evening portion, I gave that up in favor of just doing the morning portion.
Since finishing the 5 Minute Journal, I have picked up a smaller lined notebook that will be my dedicated daily gratitude journal. It has no prompts, questions or motivational quotes inside, but I don’t need those anymore. The training wheels are off.
Now I begin my day with 3 things I’m grateful for and 3 things that would make today great and then I’m done. It’s probably a 3.5 minute journal and it works for me.
I’d strongly encourage anyone to begin incorporating this gratitude practice into their daily routine. Also, it really did help to start this with the 5 Minute Journal, proper, with the questions, dates and quotes inside. I felt I had to fill it out and not miss a day. I wouldn’t have established this practice without the help of the product and freeform would not have “stuck”.
It has helped me in ways I can’t even articulate. I can also tell that my happiness has improved greatly and I’m more mindful about my day.