“Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” – The Five-Minute Journal
We all have a happiness set-point, determined primarily by heredity and by personality traits ingrained in us early in life. The theory is that each person’s basic happiness or contentment level remains relatively constant throughout life. Studies show that your happiness set-point will gradually always return to its ingrained, same baseline level, even after experiencing something great (e.g. winning the lottery) or something terrible (like car accident resulting in injury).
I think I naturally have a lower than average happiness set-point. I tend to see the glass as half-empty. I often have a grass-is-greener mentality. I easily get overwhelmed and anxious. I struggle with being a stay-at-home-mom and so then I find myself glamorizing working moms. (When I was working, I definitely glamorized stay-at-home moms!!) In the mirror I see my flaws rather than the positive things about my looks. If I make a mistake, I think I am dumb. I beat myself up for being lazy if I don’t complete my entire to-do list every day. I look at our apartment, and instead of seeing a beautiful light-filled space, all I focus on is the clutter and that the dust bunnies need to be vacuumed (again). While I KNOW in my mind there are lots of things to be grateful for, sometimes it is hard for me to FEEL THANKFUL.
My mom is the most generous, sweet, and loving mom you can imagine, but I do think I get this from my mom. She is beautiful, fun, smart, proactive, kind, and financially secure – but sometimes you would think the world is ending when you speak to her. She can be a huge worrier and often is a bit anxious and depressed. She cries easily and often feels very low. I know she is strong and does have good days too, and I love her so much, but I worry about her being so down sometimes. (Mom, if you are reading this, you know I love you! But it is true and I am the same way!!)
In contrast, my late Grandma Joan always had a twinkle in her blue eyes, a big smile, and lots of energy (despite her being about 100 pounds overweight). She somehow managed to be cheerful and find the good no matter what, despite having a pretty hard life. She used to say “Have an attitude of gratitude!” I always admired her positive outlook and wondered what was her secret? Why are some people naturally happier and others sadder? It often seems to have nothing to do with their external lives or socioeconomic status.
Enter the Five-Minute Journal. It promises to make you happier in five minutes a day, through a guided journal format. When I heard about this, I was intrigued! My favorite online fitness coach, Carter Good often speaks about how it made a difference for him. The reviews on Amazon are overwhelming for this little book, so I ordered it.
I’ve been doing the Five-Minute Journal consistently since February 7th. And spoiler alert- I think it has made a big difference in my happiness set-point.
The Five-Minute Journal is a day-per-page guided journal with an inspirational quote at the top of the page for each day (so many wonderful quotes, I often go back and re-read through them). After the daily quote, there are prompts to complete upon waking up:
-List 3 things you are grateful for;
-List 3 things that would make today great; and
-List your daily affirmations.
“Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become” – The Five-Minute Journal
Completing these simple exercises almost every day for 3 months has definitely caused a subtle shift in my thinking. Now, even when I wake up in a bad mood, tired, or anxious, I fill out the journal and it forces me to reframe.
While I am definitely still not positive or happy all the time (far from it), turning my attention to the positive for a couple of minutes every morning subtly has changed my outlook. I notice and appreciate little moments in the day more now – the sun unexpectedly bursting through the clouds, sweet cuddles with my daughters, a phone call with my mom and how much I love her, how kind and gentle and considerate is my husband, how I am grateful that no one in my family is sick, on and on, there are good moments to be found in every single day. I catch myself and I am more aware of when I start to think negatively. More than before, I appreciate the good in situations – and in people – instead of only seeing the bad.
Also, I love the daily affirmations. I mostly write things like “I am calm, patient, capable, organized, and efficient” – things I struggle with haha! Even if you don’t feel like they are 100% true, if you write them down, they become more true. The power of positive thinking is enormous. I finally feel like I know my Grandma’s secret now. It takes work and discipline, but it is indeed possible to have an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE every day! And just FYI I’ve put some of my favorite quotes from the journal down below.
Thank you for reading!
Photos by Mike Kobal
“Life Is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you give you get. What you see in others exists in you” – The Five-Minute Journal “When things change inside you, things change around you” – The Five-Minute Journal
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you” – The Five-Minute Journal