“Those Who Don’t Believe In Magic Will Never Find It.” – Roald Dahl
The 5 minute journal method is designed to be incorporated into your daily life at either end of the day. You will feel the optimum benefits to this mindfulness technique by beginning and finishing the day with grateful reflection, but if your personal situation makes this difficult do your 5 minutes whenever you can. Think of journaling similarly to the routine task of cleaning your teeth, but for your mind rather than your mouth.
A study by Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that keeping a daily gratitude journal resulted in a greater sense of overall well being, becoming more adaptable to change as well as easing lower level physical pain in participants.
It may seem like a relatively simple concept, but with practice and perseverance it can be a very powerful tool and drastically increase your happiness, which we could all do with,right?
There’s no set format that the journal must take as long as it allows you to record what you are grateful for, your affirmations and any intentions for the day. You can choose to put pen to paper in a physical journal if you prefer, or alternatively utilise your smartphone or tablet by downloading an app, such as Zen Buddy.
Using a device can make it easier to subtly check in on your journal through the day, and keep in your mind but there’s no one size fits all with this, do what works for you. You also often have the option to switch on reminders or notifications if you use an app, which can be handy.
A Quick Guide to Morning Journaling…
So, you’ve just woken up, what is the first step you need to take on your path towards a healthier and happier life?
Start by noting down three things that you’re grateful for and try to give this some deep thought and consideration. These are supposed to be considered reflections that will stay with you throughout your day, but can be as seemingly small as the weather or having clean sheets. Remember they are YOUR feelings of gratitude so there is no need to worry about writing things that may seem insignificant to others.
Next, jot down three actions you intend to complete during the day. Envisage yourself laying in bed that same evening and the feelings you wish to have, and then write actions that will provide those emotions. For example, ‘complete ten minutes yoga before leaving for work’ as you know that will give you a relaxed start to a busy day of meetings.
To finish, write one positive affirmation, beginning with ‘I am…’ . You’ll know if it is the right one when you see how you feel after writing or typing it. If you don’t feel like it has impact or resonates with you, rewrite it as it’s probably not a powerful enough affirmation. A good example here is something like, ‘ I am a calm, capable and confident manager’.
How To Bedtime Journal…
Evening journaling is easy to forget or maybe you feel too tired to complete it, but stick with it and relatively quickly you’ll feel huge improvements in your well being and happiness.
Start by writing down three amazing things that happened during the day. Similarly to the morning session really connect with your thoughts and feelings to ensure they are truly meaningful reflections. Even if your day has been awful really try to find those positives, even if it is simply that you kept going through a difficult day, or maybe you enjoyed wearing an item of clothing you love.
How To Stick To Journaling…
Finally, before snuggling down to sleep, you need to review and summarise your day. Remember to be honest but still kind to yourself, the idea isn’t to be harsh, but objective. This last step is a great reminder of how you can change your perception of the past and influence the future. Your statements should answer the question, how could I have made today even better, and is a great precursor to starting the next day positively.
Repetition And Consistency…
Behaviourists estimate that for something to become a habit it takes roughly two months, (66 days to be exact) of doing it, so don’t expect immediate results until you regularly put the time and effort in.
Something as small as where you keep the journal can make or break whether you fill it in or not, so choose wisely, remove any potential barriers and keep it somewhere you will notice it. And as we mentioned earlier, if you’re using an app to record your thoughts turn the reminders on, they’re an easy way to prompt you to take some time for yourself.
We understand, after journaling for a couple of weeks you might feel as though you’re often writing the same thing. This is where we would encourage you to be as detailed as you can with what you write as it will allow you to connect more deeply to those observations and intentions. For example, if you were to write ‘ I’m grateful for my wife’, try to rewrite it and be more specific. Think about what exactly it is about your wife that makes you grateful for her.
Adapt Journaling to You…
Although the concept of 5 minute journaling has been designed to follow a specific format, don’t treat it as though it is in stone. If one week you feel like only writing one detailed gratitude, instead of three, that is absolutely fine.
Another idea some journal lovers use is to theme their reflections. For example, they may decide to focus their observations on their relationships, career or fitness gratitudes.
Tiny Actions Attract Great Things…
If you have heard of the law of attraction this is a very similar idea. Your journal can act as an intrinsic stage in the process of an action evoking a positive reaction.
Let us explain…
If you focus on smiling more during the day, the initial reaction from others could be that they’re warmer and more friendly towards you, which may result ultimately in more friendships randomly appearing.
So you see, by taking more positive actions to make your day wonderful, the increased likelihood there is of random wonderful things happening to you. This is more commonly known as the Matthew Effect (or accumulated advantage), whereby the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, through a positive or negative mindset.
Write Effective Affirmations…
Again this may sound like a basic principle but writing effective affirmations and actions makes them more powerful and increases the probability you will connect more deeply with them. If you are over or under ambitious with your aims you’re likely to feel deflated after writing them, rather than inspired and positive.
For example, if you were to write the affirmation ‘I’m excited to manage a really successful project with a new client at work’, that is very much reality in the here and now. However, affirmations are supposed to stretch and challenge our current reality slightly, so something like ‘I’m excited to complete a new client project within the next four weeks and upsell £3000 worth more time/services/products’ may be a goal but something you can still be excited to aim for. Alternatively, ‘I’m going to sign up 10 new clients in the next month and finish the current project I’m working on’ may be overshooting which will most probably end in disappointment for you.
There are two infamous tactics for writing effective affirmations, known as The Hammer and The Butterfly approaches.
The Hammer Approach; this is where you decide on one affirmation that you want to deeply integrate into your life so you include it in your journal every day. The more you write it, it is thought the more you solidify that belief into your own mind. You see now why it’s nicknamed the hammer approach.
The Butterfly Approach; this one is much more flexible and can be altered daily. You affirm a part of your current reality that maybe you want to see more of. Maybe you have to give a presentation that day which would guide your affirmations to be confident in public speaking.
It could be useful to give both approaches a go when you’re starting out and see which you find resonates with you most, but then stick to whichever you prefer. Inconsistency with your method can result in you not feeling the benefits of journaling.
Learn And Improve…
The journaling method is supposed to give you a focus and encourage you to look for the little things in life that are good. You can learn from them by periodically looking back through your journal entries and seeing if you notice any patterns or persistent issues and considering ways you can overcome them.
You may notice that you start to forget the original methodologies to journaling and become lazy with what you write. Remember, affirmations are supposed to be based on how you can make your day better, so writing ‘I don’t spend too much money’ will be much less effective than writing ‘I will only spend £20 on food today’ which is more specific and definite in its language.
Clarify Your ‘Why’
Arguably the most important aspect to the 5 minute journal method is the reason behind you doing it in the first place. If you want to become more grateful, happier or more positive consider why and what has prompted these feelings.
By regularly evaluating what you’re trying to achieve from journaling you will be re-energised and re-focussed. Changing tack from writing work related affirmations to them revolving around your personal life is totally fine as long as you feel you’re not aimlessly hopping around. Wait until the affirmations feel like they are enhancing your life in some way before moving on to another area of your life.
So there we have it, an exploration of the 5 minute journal, how to use it and what a hugely positive impact it could make on your life. All for the sake of spending 5 minutes each day making a few notes. When it’s put that way, why wouldn’t you give it a go.
If you’re looking for the perfect jounraling app to help you get in the habit of using this 5 minute trick, signup below. You’ll be first in line to get an exclusive free trial of the Zen Buddy app when it launches later this year…