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My Daily Dose Of Gratitude With The Five-Minute Journal

I was first introduced to Positive Psychology by my husband (who wrote a guest post on how its principles profoundly impacted his life). A relatively new branch of psychology that focuses on how individuals and communities thrive, it is based on the assertion that that one must live a happy, engaged, and meaningful life in order to experience a good life.

The Five-Minute Journal explores that premise with a simple and structured format to help you begin and end each day with intention and gratitude, promising to allow you to focus on the good and live more mindfully in, you guessed it, five minutes a day. 

A lightbulb went off when behavioral scientist UJ Ramdas and entrepreneur Alex Ikonn were discussing their daily routines on a hike, and they decided to create the Five-Minute Journal to share their process with others. In the last couple of years their company Intelligent Change has sold thousands of copies and been featured in the likes of Business Insider and Fortune magazine, and received the ultimate endorsement from business guru Tim Ferriss (of Four-Hour Workweek fame).

Shan from online lifestyle and wellness boutique An Uplifted Day in Singapore kindly sent me a copy (along with other products from her expertly-curated store), and it has taken me a while to write this review but I am very excited to finally share my thoughts with you!

My first impression was that the linen-bound Instagram-worthy journal with satin-smooth paper was almost too pretty to write in, but it helps to have it somewhere inviting and within reach (like your bedside table or work desk) with a pen so you can create a space to practice growth and gratitude in your everyday life.
The hardest part is being consistent, so I work it into part of my daily routine so that I can't forget. This means writing in the morning as my coffee is steeping in the French press, and at night right after I've removed my make-up. I try to stick to the five-minute frame so I don't overanalyze what I am writing, and I incentivize myself with a little reward when I write 5 days in a row.
I am not a morning person, so the first few days were challenging for me. However, I found that writing in the journal first thing in the morning encourages me to focus my mind on the positive and set specific goals for the day. As someone who works from home, it is an effective way for me to start each day right and stayed focused throughout. 
Here are some tips on how you can make the journal really work for you:
1. Work on different themes
Filling in the same pages every day can get repetitive quickly, so one way to overcome that is to alternate the themes. For example, you can choose to focus on getting your fitness level up one week, and going through your reading list the next. 
2. Be specific with your goals
Instead of just writing general statements like "I am going to start working out", set specific and attainable goals like "Go to yoga class twice a week" or "Run 5 miles with Emily on Tuesday". You can also find an accountability partner who will check in on your progress and offer you a word of encouragement or a much-needed kick in the butt.
3. Don't be so hard on yourself
Some days I accomplish none of the goals that I set out for the day, but I don't beat myself up for it. I may not have made it to the gym today because my arms are sore from the killer workout yesterday, but I can go once the pain has subsided. Progress, not perfection, is the goal here.
4. Go ahead, tweak the prompts
The prompts are there as a guide, but don't be afraid to use them differently. There are days I choose to cross out the numbers and write just 1 thing I am grateful for instead of three. There is also a section meant for Daily Affirmation statements that I use to write Bible verses that I meditate on that day instead. 
I actually noticed a difference when I stopped journalling a few weeks ago because of moving and renovations- I felt like my mind was all over the place and I allowed small things to bother me instead of focusing on all the things that were going right. Scientists have found that it takes an average of 66 days to change your life, so don't despair if you fall off the bandwagon and remember that you can always pick up where you left off. 

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have a daily journalling habit?
What do you think of the 5-minute journal?
My Five-Minute Journal was sent to me by An Uplifted Day from Singapore, but you can also purchase it in the U.S. directly from their website. If you're not a pen and paper person, you can download the iTunes app instead.
You can read my other posts on Positive Psychology here

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