We like to try new things, so in this series, we experiment and challenge ourselves to create new habits, find new hobbies, and learn more about ourselves. Check out our other challenges here.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 21, 2017 and has been updated with new content.
What is the 5-minute journal?
The 5-minute journal is “the simplest, most effective thing you can do every day to be happier”. You can establish a positive pattern of thinking and acting when it really matters.
How It Works:
Answer 3 questions in the morning to set the tone for the rest of the day, and answer 2 questions before you go to bed to end on a note of self-investment in your well-being.
See how we felt about the 5-minute journal!
Juliet: What did you think about the journal based on the introduction of the book?
Annie: I wasn’t sure how effective or life-changing it would really be. I didn’t have too high or too low of expectations.
Juliet: What made you say, “Let’s give this a shot?”
Annie: One, it was for an experiment. Two, why not? Three, I wanted it to work. Though it’s one thing to want it to work, and another to get into the right mindset for it. You?
Juliet: I liked that it touched upon positive psychology. I prefer to be in a world where there’s more positivity. It’s more motivational and inspirational when you are around people who don’t let negative things bring them down.
Annie: I agree, but I also think there is nothing wrong with feeling those feelings once in a while. It’s okay to have bad days.
Juliet: True. I think this journal could help people get out of their bad funk faster, reminding them that there is always something you can be grateful for even on the shittiest days.
Annie: In my case, writing down what I was grateful for in the mornings helped for the morning. But if something negative happened during the day, I didn’t think back to what I wrote in the journal to remind myself.
Juliet: At the end of the night did you write about the negative stuff or did you forget about it and it just didn’t matter anymore?
Annie: No, I didn’t write about the negative stuff because there wasn’t space for it in the journal. But I haven’t really had any bad days since I started, so…
Juliet: Maybe it’s the positive psychology slowly working!
Annie: Yeah, it could be. I’m just thinking if there’s a way for me to utilize the 5-minute journal more than what I’m doing. Yes, I write these things down every morning and night, but during the day I forget about it or I don’t think about it. Do you?
Juliet: I find myself noticing when something good happens in the world, even if it’s something small.
Annie: So before you didn’t notice when you didn’t write down what you were grateful for?
Juliet: I didn’t notice it as much. It would be like, “Ah, whatever, cool”. I think I remembered more when something good happened after starting the 5-minute journal, and those good feelings lasted much longer than any other shit in the day.
Annie: That’s good. How did writing down daily affirmations affect you or change your thinking?
Juliet: My daily affirmations normally start out the same. Along the same lines as our business card and self-fulfillment talk, I found myself naturally fulfilling what I wanted to be or do. You?
Annie: For me, I wrote the same thing every day, and it was just a daily reminder for myself. I write, “I am doing my best.”
Annie: The thing about me is that I know I am doing my best, but sometimes my brain likes to tell me different and I wouldn’t feel like I am. A part of my brain will say, “Eh, actually, you could have done more”, but I know that I am doing my best, so it’s a fight between two parts of me. It’s the kind of thing where I have to remind myself every day so my mind doesn’t go elsewhere.
Juliet: Do you believe in it more now – that you’re doing your best?
Annie: Mmm… slightly more, but I still have to keep telling myself that and push out the part that’s telling me I’m not doing enough.
Juliet: Everything is a process, right?
Juliet: Will you continue doing the journal because it takes time to see the full effects?
Annie: I’m worried with any type of routine writing of things that it becomes a routine and you end up mindlessly doing it.
Juliet: I hear ya – and it sounds like it’s a yes until it gets mindless? I’m sure when it gets mindless you’ll catch yourself and be like, “Okay, let’s really think about this and be grateful.”
Annie: I hope so!
Juliet: Any other thoughts or questions we should answer about this?
Annie: What else did you notice with this experiment besides seeing more good?
Juliet: I think that was the biggest difference. What I want to do is find more different things to be grateful for. Most of my grateful things are about me and my situation, like for food and having a bed to sleep. I want to be more grateful for things bigger than me. You?
Annie: It was a lot easier to do consistently when I had it printed out. [Only Juliet has the physical journal. We tried doing this experiment once before in May 2017, but both of us didn’t keep up with it. Annie’s reason was that she would write it in her iPhone notes, and would forget because it’s not something she normally does and there was no physical reminder for her to do so. Juliet’s reason was that she forgets to do a lot of things.]
I also want to actually take 5 minutes every day to solely focus on the journal because there were times that I would rush through it and get it done in a minute.
Juliet: How about let’s do a 5-minutes-solely-focus-on-journal for 2 more weeks and we can add an update to the post?
Annie: You had the same experience?
Annie: I’d be down.
Juliet: COOL. Okay, next topic.
We will do a follow-post on the 5-minute journal after we do it for two more weeks, but we wanted to share our initial thoughts with you guys.
-Annie & Juliet
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve ever done the 5-minute journal before and what was your experience with it like? Are there any experiments you would like to see us try?
We kept up with the 5-minute journal for another 2 weeks after we finished the initial post.
Annie: I don’t know if there is a direct correlation, but I feel a lot more positive in life. If someone else is feeling negative, I find myself being like, “Well, let’s look at the positive of this instead”, and not just agreeing with them saying, “Yeah this sucks”. I think I got to the point where I’m tired of being negative all the time, so this definitely helped part of that.
So what about you?
Juliet: I think even before starting the 5-minute journal, I’ve always been a pretty positive person and have always been to not let other people’s negative emotions bring me down. I feel the 5-minute journal has made me be better at being grateful.
Annie: Previously you said that you wanted to try writing down things you were grateful that weren’t just within your circumstance. Were you able to do that?
Juliet: Mmm… sometimes. Some of those things were like “inspirational and kick ass people around me”, and “having people at work who support me”.
Both of us will keep on continuing the 5-minute journal because we have already noticed the positive changes it brought to our lives. We recommend you guys to try it too!
Check out other posts in our Challenges series!