There is little doubt about the benefits of keeping a journal: It is a great tool for helping provide clarity on thoughts and feelings, for providing a safe space to release and ponder. Yet too often our journals can turn into our own personal pity party, where our fears and negative aspects are given a voice through our words. And while offloading can be a good thing, the truth is that we could all do with a little more happiness in our lives.
When I saw a different kind of journal pop up on my Instagram feed towards the end of last year, I knew I had to have it: The chic, minimal Happiness Planner, a gratitude and goal-setting journal that encourages us to look for the happy in our lives by shaping the way we think and shifting our focus to the positive. I immediately went online and purchased the Aqua/Mint (very Tiffany, no?) 100-day undated version for myself. A few short days later, I had the Happiness Planner in my hands. Needless to say, I dove right in.
The first page quotes founder Mo Seetubtim: “The Happiness Planner is designed to help you become happier by mastering the art of positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-development”. This is followed by 26 rules to live by for a happier and more fulfilling life; some were fairly obvious (“eat healthy” / “meditate” / “do what you love”) and some not-so (“avoid overanalyzing” / “drop your ego and be true” / “drop the resentment within”).
The “Happiness Roadmap” kicks off the journaling process, asking you to perform a series of reflection exercises that get you really thinking about what makes you happy. What your dreams are. Where your strengths and weaknesses exist. From here, you craft a goal to work towards over the next hundred days, with the intention of also integrating “happiness habits” into each of those days. Next comes the core of the journal, broken out into weekly and daily pages. The weekly page acts as a a traditional weekly planner of sorts, tracking appointments and schedules, etcetera. The daily page is a bit more involved, offering a positive affirmation and allowing space for you to list your to-dos, track your exercise and meals, and indicate your day’s focus and expectations. There is also a reflective section to be filled in at the end of each day, where you take identify gratitudes for the day and hopes for the tomorrow.
There is a “Weekly Reflection” page, where record what you have learned during the past week, identifying the highs and the lows, the gratitudes and improvements. You can rate your week with a little score chart, and there is a section for describing your week in three words. And finally, at the end of the planner, there is a review section that asks you ten reflective questions about the last hundred days. (Your weekly “scores” are added up here, too.)
All in all: The planner made me look for the good in each day. Even on my toughest days, I was able to find something that made me smile, or to identify some small achievement. I found it to be a strong addition to my mindfulness practice, as it encouraged me to reflect back on the little things that I am grateful for each week.
I recommend the Happiness Planner for those who would rather reflect on the highs of each day rather than be consumed by the lows. I also recommend it for those who wake up, excited to face each day ahead. In short, I recommend it for anybody who wants to take just a few minutes out each day and focus on being happy and grateful.
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