I have a secret.
A tool that I would like to share with you.
Six months ago, I was miserable. My job seemed to be sucking the life out of me. Even when I wasn’t at work, I was left stressed, worn out, and depressed. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to do the things I enjoyed, which left me even more unhappy. It was not a pleasant time in my life. But I found tools to help me regain the optimistic and productive outlook I used to hold dear.
One of the tools that helped most was a journal called The Five Minute Journal. Recommended by Tim Ferris and backed by scientific studies, the journal uses simple exercises to help you practice positivity.
Don’t worry if you aren’t a “journaler”. I’ve never been able to keep up a consistent journaling habit and this is the perfect “journal” for non-writers. It’s simple. All you have to do is answer the questions the journal asks (the same ones every day) and it only takes a few minutes. It’s made to be the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night before bed (2-3mins each).
- Practice Gratitude – the first question is to list what you are grateful for. Experts from many disciplines, both scientific and spiritual, agree that gratitude is one of the biggest keys to happiness. When you are thankful for what you have, it’s hard to be unhappy about it at the same time.
- Begin the day right – this serves as a calming morning ritual as well as a chance to set your intention for the day. The journal always asks “What would make today great?” This is your chance to choose how you want your day to go.
- Reflection – with the constant stimulation of today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to just sit and think but this journal gives you the chance to sit and reflect on every day. By taking the time to review the day, you can find ways to improve upon things big and small. This is a great way to both learn about and improve yourself.
- Build a habit – the journal is a daily practice. It only takes a few minutes so it’s easy to get started and it’s a beneficial habit to have. If you feel like you want more discipline or intention in your life I’d encourage you to give it a try. Once you’re in the habit of using this journal, you can expand upon your routine to add other activities. Been eyeballing that CEO’s morning ritual? Just add part of it to your journaling habit. Exercise, meditation, writing, the possibilities are endless but the key here is to start slow. Don’t add anything until you really have a strong habit. I did nothing but the Five Minute Journal for the first 3 months, but it eventually acted like a gateway drug and now my mornings are both productive and fulfilling.
It’s not going to change your life overnight. All of the benefits I’ve listed above take time. It’s an incremental process but if you’re at all curious, give it a shot. I’ve found it to be hugely beneficial.