Keeping a happiness journal is a simple way to remind yourself of the things that bring you joy everyday. In our busy lives these moments can often be overlooked, but writing down the little things can open your eyes to how much you have to be happy about, whether it is meeting an old friend, eating a delicious meal or as simple as a walk in the sunshine.
So whether you're looking for a new start this September, or just want to keep all your happy memories somewhere safe, why not try starting a happiness journal this week...
When we look back over the course of our lives, it will not be the detail of the profit and loss sheet, the pressure of deadlines, or the escalating cost of groceries that you will remember—it will be the great times with friends, the joy of watching your children in the school play, a special day in a beautiful location, the joy of walking your dog, the first time you heard your favorite piece of music, shared moments with loved ones. Even in times of crisis, it is possible to find something to laugh at, or something to appreciate—when we pay attention.
Writers and artists will often keep notebooks or draw sketches of things that have caught their attention. My wonderful mother kept a “thinks book” well into her eighties to capture her memories of the past and record each day’s events that give her pause for thought. The inner journey that we travel in life has the potential to be endlessly rich and varied; it provides opportunities to explore and develop our true selves in a way that can open up our minds to new opportunities, who we are, and what we might be.
OUR TRUE SELVES
Blogging, tweeting, and other social media have their role to play but sometimes, when we share our thoughts with the world, we offer the edited version. We present ourselves as we would like to be seen, rather than revealing what we really feel.
Keeping a happiness journal can be a wonderful way of tuning in to the here and now and reminding yourself to pay attention to the present. Getting into the habit of writing down, photographing, painting, or capturing in some way those moments when you have felt alive, content, or joyful has several benefits:
- You will immediately feel the experience more intensely, as you seek to capture it.
- Your happiness radar will increase its powers of detection. The more you look, the more you will see reasons to be happy.
- It will serve as a record of happy moments and as a pick-me-up for those times when you feel blue.
- It will encourage you to think beyond the experience of the moment, to make connections between different experiences, and to learn more about yourself.
Of course, over time, some of the things that have brought you joy may also turn out to be a source of sadness as you recall times gone by, but the value of capturing the moment when it’s fresh is that you can remind yourself of how you felt on that day— and treasure the memory.
Starting a happiness journal
Each day of this week note down three things that have brought you joy and pleasure. Some examples might be:
- A beautiful aspect of nature
- Something that made you smile or laugh
- An act of kindness you experienced or heard about
- Delicious food
- An activity you enjoyed. Try to express how you felt at that moment and include photos in your journal whenever you can.
For more ways to bring happiness into your life everyday, check out A Year of Living Happily by Lois Blyth.