The Five-Minute Journal

5minutejournal You guys... This journal, though seemingly simple, has really changed my days. I'm not a newbie to journaling or to gratitude lists (a big part of this journal). In fact, I was texting gratitudes (still do) to a friend nightly long before I came across this journal. So what's so different about putting it all in a book rather than a text?

Well, first let me tell you what the journal is, because it's way more than just listing some gratitudes. First, each page has a pretty awesome quote to start your day with. Today's was:

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot."

-- Michael Altshuler

Not bad, eh? I like this one because everyone always says how quickly time goes as you get older (except when you're at work). And everyone always says it with this foreboding tone like, "Time flies so better get your shit together while you can." However, this quote allows me to see what's become a cliche in a whole new light. I'm the pilot, huh? So, that means I can take a detour? I can set the trajectory? I can't slow down but maybe I can land for a bit (in Fiji)?

I like starting out the day with a contemplative quote. It kind of makes each day new because it takes a previously accepted notion and slants it, makes you look at your day from another side.

Back to the journal... so there's the quote to start your day. Awesome. Then there's the gratitudes, which I won't get into because y'all probably know the benefit of listing the things your grateful for by now (and not just when there's a delicious turkey in front of you). Next, there's a question: "What would make today great?" Great! Not good. Not bearable. But GREAT.

You ever notice that you have these really truly thrilling times in your life (usually when something new occurs-- Babies! A new love! Acceptance into college!), and then it plateaus. The novelty is gone. That's just life, guys, and you can go on chasing the thrill but if you do, you'll probably miss out on some extraordinary everyday things (and die in a skydiving accident). And that's what this question helps me to focus on: the extraordinary everyday things.

What would make today great? Usually, it's such simple attainable things. I feel great after a phone call with a good friend. I feel great when I go for a run. I feel great when I get to work on time (really, it reduces my stress levels immeasurably). Answering this question first thing of the day helps me to really appreciate the ordinary little things. That appreciation is its own reward. I often think things like, "Go me," when I accomplish the things I set out to do. Conversely, when I don't, at the very least I know the things that make me feel good and I can always do them tomorrow :)

Next thing is you write a daily affirmation. OK, guys, I know-- affirmations are super corny. They remind me of that old SNL skit with Stuart Smalley. You know, this guy:


The concept is usually one everyone makes fun of... which is why it's great to write them in a private journal. They're cheesy but kind of nice too. I like to tell myself things like, "I am open to change and the world around me," because usually I am so not. I can be really controlling and I often want things to go my way and I hate it when people don't bend to my will. Just being honest.

But how realistic is that? If the only constant in this world is change, then how can I control anything ever? I can't and it only causes me immense suffering when I try to (because I feel like a failure). So when I find myself in control mode, it's great for me to start the day by writing my intention to accept the world just as it is-- in my private journal... or on this very public blog. Damn it.

So, what else is pretty cool about this journal? There is end of the day stuff too! The first part of the night section, man, I LOVE: List "3 Amazing things that happened today." Didn't have anything amazing happen today? Bullshit. Amazing things happen every day. The sun always rises. You're still here. Your boss told you you did a great job just when you were feeling like you could have done better. That cute guy in your building you've been crushing on smiled at you. Again, ordinary things made extraordinary by just taking the time to notice and appreciate them. Sigh, isn't life so cool?

Lastly, "How could I have made today better?" If you're like me, then this is the part where every fiber of your being wants to be uber hard on yourself. But let's be realistic: what would make your day better? Hate your job? Looking for a new one is a great start. Haven't exercised in so long? Going for a run would help get you back on track. Slept too late, had to rush to work and therefore wore every article of clothing inside out? (No, that never happens to me). Snoozing less might be a good idea. What I'm finding really amazing about this part is that two weeks have passed since I started writing in this journal and little by little, I've been adding that which would make my day better, into my days. Intentions are becoming actions.

So, why do I suggest you buy this journal when I've just told you everything that's in it? Well, first, unless you scour the internet for daily quotes and weekly challenges (oh yeah, there's those, too), are you really going to do all the above on a daily and nightly basis on your own? If you are, then you are my idol. You have the diligence and patience of a saint. Your mind is mighty and powerful just like Oz, and your eyes are the eyes I want to see the world through.

But if you're an everyday gal (or guy) like me, then get the journal at You won't regret it!