My Happiness Journal

There was a time when my level of cynicism alarmed me. To combat it, I tried to surround myself with heaps of good energy and I told myself to be positive every day. However, I still found myself spiraling into negative thoughts that not only annoyed me but also surely annoyed those around me. I could not shake the cynicism. I wanted to make a change. So, I bought a journal. That journal has two entries. I bought it two years ago.

Granted, the entries are pretty great. I remember to this day what I wrote about, where I wrote them, and why I wanted to write them. I sat on my dorm room bed, gripping the purple binding of the journal in one hand and tightly grasping my pen in the other. With every page written, I slowly felt the tension dissipate. But these entries did nothing for me. I might as well have just yelled what I was feeling into an abyss. The journal did not magically change my attitude like I thought it would. I felt that I had wasted my energy on these pages of seemingly enlightened personal insights. Like, somehow my thoughts on paper would make me my own personal psychologist.  

After a much-needed two-year long hiatus from my many exhaustive entries, I found an article about a Happiness Project Journal* on Buzzfeed. Its goal? Focus on the positive! With a bright blue cover and yellow pages, it was impossible not to smile at. I needed to have one. This would be the solution to my cynical episodes! And it was. Well, kind of.

I cannot recommend this journal enough. There is room to write ONE sentence per day about ONE thing that makes you happy. One thing, once a day, for five years, perfectly and completely outlined for you. No space to rant, complain, over-analyze, only four lines to write a sentence about all the good. At first, I felt forced to find happy things every day. Obviously, some days naturally had several great things that happened, and choosing which event to write about was a task in itself. But, some days are so bland that finding a silver lining is nearly impossible.

This journal changed my search for a silver lining. It has been two years, and finding just one positive thing per day, even on the worst and catastrophic doomsday of days, has given me a more positive outlook on life. At first, it was about finding something good to write down in my journal. Then, it evolved into a mindset. I began to find the good every day without thinking of my happiness journal, even when my days were everything but happy. Throughout this daily minute-long journaling routine, I have not magically become an optimist. I still identify as a realist, and I still “go off” to my mom and friends on rants they care absolutely nothing about. Sometimes I still find the cynicism within me. But now, it is significantly less. This journal was not a solution to curing my bouts of cynicism. The journal did, however, transition my mindset to a more positive one. How many times have I had a bad day, but chosen to write, “I looked good today,” or “I took some time for myself today”? When I look back on those entries, I can’t tell that day was bad. And even better, one sentence about a good day is enough to hold memories of the entire day. I don’t have to write a novel about my good day to remember it.

One sentence can capture the beauty of a day, too. *The Happiness Project Journal is available on Amazon, but you can make your own too!