Whenever life throws something overwhelming at me, I immediately go to the negative. It’s just in my nature to do that. Call it a defence mechanism or whatever you want, but I’ve always been a firm believer in the concept of preparing myself for the worst so that I’m not disappointed. And while this approach has worked well for me throughout the course of my life, it’s a really crappy attitude to have.
Are you with me here?
I once read that the more negative you are, the worse you end up feeling, and if you’ve ever spent time with a Negative Nancy, you know firsthand how absolutely DRAINING it is to be around someone who is perpetually miserable.
So for the last 3 months, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to be a happy and positive person, and while it’s been difficult to change 40+ years of thinking, I’ve found one tool that has changed my life for the better.
It’s called The Five-Minute Journal, and I am totally in love with it.
Now, before we go any further, let’s get one thing clear here.
I do not journal.
I’m a very deliberate person by nature, and I’m not one to randomly write my deepest – and often inappropriate – thoughts on paper for all the world to see. I don’t enjoy meditating or practicing yoga, and my husband and I do not spend our evenings holding hands while talking about our feelings.
I’m sarcastic as hell, I drink a lot of wine, and I should probably be medicated, so when I tell you that a journal changed my life, please know I don’t write those words lightly.
Here’s how The Five-Minute Journal works…
Each page of the journal begins with an inspiring quote and prompts you to answer 5 questions – 3 when you wake up in the morning, and 2 just before you going to bed.
The morning routine is designed to help set the tone for your day (‘I am grateful for…’), build new pathways in your brain to help you envision what you can do to improve your well-being (‘What would make today great?’), and create change from within (‘Daily affirmations. I am…’).
The evening routine builds on this by reminding you to count your blessings (‘3 amazing things that happened today..’), which is said to help you sleep better, improve your sense of well-being, and increase your ability to handle change, while also giving you an opportunity to resolve conflicts before you go to bed to help shift your focus to the positive (‘How could I have made today even better?’).
It’s simple and quick, and incredibly effective in training your brain to start and end each day with feelings of gratitude so you can learn how to be a happy and positive person.
And it only takes 5 minutes to complete!
I especially love the daily inspirational quotes, but it was this passage by Brad Einarsen that sold me on The Five-Minute Journal:
‘When I was in a dark period, I instituted a simple rule that changed my life.
Rule: When I arrive home from work, the very first thing I tell my wife is the best thing that happened that day.
No exceptions. No complaining. Just the best thing that day, even if it was just a good cup of coffee. This had the effect of starting our evening off on a positive note and it changed our relationship.’
So, is The Five-Minute Journal for you? Will it teach you how to be a happy and positive person? Well, that really depends. It all boils down to how committed you are to making changes in your life. If you truly want to be happy and can commit 5 measly minutes of your time each day to practicing feelings of gratitude, then I’d say it’s worth a shot. I mean really, what do you have to lose?
Alex Ikonn, the co-founder of The Five-Day Journal, describes it as a ‘toothbrush for the mind’, and while it hasn’t magically transformed me into a half-glass-fill kind of gal, it has certainly helped me focus on the positives instead of the negatives.
And that has made all the difference.
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