This is my happiness journal.

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On New Years Day I put up a giant sheet of paper on my wall and since then I have been closing each day by recapping all of the events that happened and how I felt throughout the day.

How to Make a Happiness Journal:

1.   I start by summing up the day using three numbers on a 1-10 scale.

  • The first number represents how I felt the moment I woke up. A high number suggests that I slept well and felt fully rested. A low number might mean that I didn’t get much rest because I was worried about something, or I drank too much the night before and woke up a bit hungover (more likely).
  • The second number sums up the entire day. Was it a generally more positive day or was it an off day?
  • The third number captures how I feel the moment that I’m writing on my happiness journal and about to go to bed. Was I successful in rebounding from any stressful events/failures and able to restore peace and calm within? Or is my imagination spiraling downwards, inflating unnecessary worry, and still replaying doomsday scenarios in my head?

2.   Under the summary numbers I jot down every emotionally charged moment that I can remember. I then pay more attention to the negative experiences by recalling the actions I took to try to get out of the mental rut and noting the results of those actions. Sometimes I am able to consciously shift my focus, thereby changing my emotions to a more desired state, otherwise a random coincidence (for ex. random texts checking in from a friend I haven’t talked to in ages) helps me regain perspective.

The Benefits: 

The process of keeping up with this happiness journal helped me grow in two main ways.

  1. It helped me develop a greater appreciation for all the little things that I would normally forget about. Going throughout each day knowing that I will be reviewing the good and bad events at night helped develop greater awareness of daily life as it happened in the moment. I’ve found that the more moments where I am able to become fully present, the closer I can get to living the true experience of whatever is happening, and the more exciting life becomes. Even mundane tasks like doing the dishes becomes more interesting if you are fully immersed in the action (ex. feeling the sensation of the water and soap on your hands) rather than resisting the act as a painful chore.
  2. It has given me an arsenal of actions to take to restore balance in the mind and to recover more quickly from a negative state/stressful situation. By paying attention to which actions I took whenever I noticed myself without inner peace, I was able to create a list of the most effective steps that work for me. Knowing which steps work consistently (ex. listening to a certain song, cooking a particular meal, going for a walk without music etc.) helps prepare me to take a more proactive approach in dealing with a similar situation in the future.

Having this insight and utilizing the tools that work best for you will help you develop greater emotional intelligence and get a step closer towards mastering yourself. I’ve noticed that with the recognition that I have the power to change any negative situation by changing how I choose to interpret and respond to it, I have adopted an ownership for my mindset and attitude rather than feeling like a helpless victim to my own negative feelings. Additionally I noticed that one positive by-product from this growth in self-awareness is that I have completely stopped blaming others and blaming myself for my own suffering. Instead I approach each emotional challenge as a just that–a difficult lesson to help me learn what I need to know about myself in order to develop into a better person.

Learning how to RESPOND and not REACT has made a huge difference in maintaining a higher level of happiness and a more consistent positive attitude. Use a happiness journal to discover your own habitual negative reaction patterns and start coming up with a strategy to stay uplifted during even the toughest times.