Ever since I started a daily journaling practice nearly two years ago I have felt significantly happier and more fulfilled. As a culture, we tend to live for the highlights of life and dwell on the lowlights. The mundane day to day blurs together in one long loop where we don’t recall what we wore or what we ate. But what if we could train our brains to reflect and find joy in every day, to live with more gratitude, and overall live with greater intention? Well, the truth is that we CAN by journaling. With only a few minutes of writing time a day, we can all feel more fulfilled, grateful and happier, which are only some of the benefits of a daily journaling practice. Following are the four components of my daily practice, which I included in the journal I created: Questions For Life: Two Year Daily Guided Journal for Intentional Living, available for sale now.
The Four Components of my Daily Practice:
I love the quote, “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” That quote literally stopped me in my tracks the first time I read it. I vowed right then and there that I would not live the same year over and over for the rest of my life. So I purchased a 5-year journal with just enough space to jot down a few lines about each day; whatever I deemed significant or worthy of remembrance. Never once has there been nothing to write because life, thoughts, conversations, actions, news, weather, EVERYTHING happens every single day. Through the simple practice of writing down a few lines about each day, I was comforted within days. It was quite clear I was not living the same day over and over.
Now that I’m in my second year of that 5-year journal I love reflecting back on what I did that same day the year before. It’s been so lovely being reminded of things I’ve forgotten that maybe weren’t so significant. Additionally, I love reflecting on progress and changes I’ve made. Just the other day I read for 2015: Had my first “freak out” in a long time. It’s the f***ing cigarettes. I CAN’T smoke even once in a while!
How amazing to be able to follow that up the same day the following year with: I’m 113 days cigarette-free!
This is what I love about comparative journals, which is specifically why Questions For Life is to be used for two years.
Numerous studies show that a daily gratitude practice directly correlates to increased happiness. The rationale is simple: when you express gratitude, you focus on the positive aspects of your life and what you do have, rather than the negative aspects and what you don’t have. I express gratitude every single day. It’s become a habit. Even when I’m angry or annoyed, gratitude has become such a part of my life that I can often stop and change my mindset. For example, is work pissing you off? Well, be grateful you have a job. It can always be worse.
There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, even if it’s fresh water or access to food. Even if you are having the worst day of your life, you can still be grateful to be alive.
Another practice of mine is to write down my single happiest moment from every day. This is not so easy on bad days, believe me. But how incredible when you witness with your own eyes that every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. Even when I had pneumonia last month I was able to identify my happiest moments (mostly along the lines of wishing something good was on television and seeing that one of my favorite movies just started – that kind of joy.) Not everything is off the charts amazing, but there is joy in every day, even if it’s seeing a puppy on the street, finding a $5.00 bill, or laughing at a good joke.
Think of how much more fulfilling life can be if we paid more attention to the simple joys in life. This practice trains you to notice and acknowledge those happy moments.
Another journal I purchased some time ago was a 5-year question a day journal where I answered a different question every day and compared my answers year to year. The questions in this particular journal were random. Some were wonderful and some were just silly, but I enjoyed the concept and found it beneficial. So when I created Questions For Life, I wrote 366 questions focused around goal setting, creativity, relationships, awareness, reflection, and other topics along those lines. Answering questions about our lives, actions, dreams, etc. makes us more self-aware and conscious of the kind of life we want to be living, and whether or not we’re taking the steps to achieve it.
Answering the questions also makes us more accountable. For example, “Did you make good use of your time today?” is a simple question you will find in Questions For Life that can quickly help you realize how you’re not living to your full potential, and where adjustments can be made. Some other questions include: “How can you be a better son/daughter?”; “What risk would you take if you knew you couldn’t fail?”; “Is your life complicated by unnecessary things?”; “Who could you pay more attention to?”; and “Have you ever invested in yourself financially?”
These are only four of the countless ways to approach a daily journaling practice. However, I found that these four components have had a tremendously positive effect on my life and outlook. I also found that keeping a journal with these components is easy and realistic since it doesn’t require a lot of time. Additionally, these components ultimately to help slow life down and break our habit of living highlight to highlight. This results in a fuller, and more fulfilling, life.
You can win a copy of Questions For Life!
Although you don’t need a copy of Questions For Life to begin your practice, it certainly is easier to have a beautifully designed journal complete with monthly motivational quotes ready to go. I am so certain you’ll love it that I am giving away three free copies!
So please, enter for a chance to win and start your own daily journaling practice!