The Happiness Journal

by Kim on June 28, 2012

Remember how I said I had no excuse to do my long run over the weekend? Well, I underestimated myself. Excuses were found (like “spend time with family” and other similar crap) and the run remained unran.

I legitimately excused myself from running on Saturday, because I was pretty sore from my runs the two previous days (catching up from earlier in the week…it’s such a dirty cycle).

But Sunday just got away from me, as Sundays will. First we had friends stop by to see Mase, and end up staying for hours (not that I’m complaining-it was fun), and then I had to run to church to teach Sunday School to a bunch of 3-year-olds who had each enjoyed a large pot of coffee prior to the service. I came home exhausted from how animated I had to be to keep their attention for a whole hour (we’re talking singing Jesus Loves Me while spinning in a headstand on the table-anything less and I’d lose them). Suddenly nothing felt more daunting than a 7-mile run. So we grilled out and chilled on the deck instead, and I don’t regret it.

But last night, I finally got my shstuff together and hammered the dang thing out. All 7 miles. On a treadmill. In the basement. (It’s not as bad as it sounds, actually-I watched an episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition with captions on while listening to music and mouthing the words/making tons of embarrassing gestures. One of the underrated perks of basement running.) It took me about an hour and 20 minutes-painfully slow by any account-and it hurt (and is still hurting today), but it’s done.

But anyway. That’s not what I wanted to tell you.

I’m really here to talk about something new I’m trying out. Something I’m calling the Happiness Journal.

I know I’m not the first person to come up with this idea, but everyone does it a little differently. Here’s my approach:

happiness journal

Image source

The first, most obvious benefit of starting a happiness journal is that it gives you an excuse to go out and buy one of those cute little blank books at Barnes and Noble that you always admire but then think “what would I do with it?”

If you’re looking for a more elaborate, guided happiness journey, you could also pick up a copy of The Happy Book, which includes a variety of prompts to get you thinking about what makes you tick:

happy book

Or, if you hate your job, there’s this one. But that can’t be healthy…

As for me, the super unstructured, quick-and-dirty nature of the “1 happy moment per day” approach is appealing. And my boring spiral notebook is working fine for now (mostly because I haven’t been to B&N in months).

I just started my Happiness Journal two weeks ago. Here’s a sample of my happy moments from last week:

  • June 17-Took a long nap on the couch with my baby sleeping in my arms. Felt guilty at first because I hadn’t finished unpacking from our weekend trip and the house needed tidying, but then I remembered that moments like this are fleeting and he will never be this young again.
  • June 18-Enjoyed a cup of coffee, a handful of dark chocolate chips, and a few pages of a book while the kids [Mason and the girl I do daycare for] napped (at the same time!). Felt peaceful.
  • June 19-Had a good laugh with the hubby and son. We were getting Mason ready for his bath and I turned around to find Brent standing him up on the counter in just his diaper and singing “I’m sexy and I know it.”
  • June 20-Had a nice long talk with my mom. She calmed some of my fears about parenting and gave me some much-needed advice.
  • June 21-Had a nice cold beer after an invigorating tempo run.
  • June 22-Went to the farmer’s market and had dinner with friends!

I remember that the 19th and 20th were both rough days-Mason wasn’t sleeping well during the day and I was at my wit’s end trying to get him down. But I was still able to think of some good things that happened those days, and looking back, those are the things I remember best about those days.

Already, this has been an illuminating experience for me. Specifically, so far, it’s helped me to:

  • Recognize and appreciate happy moments as I’m having them. When I’m feeling good-say, on the day I was drinking coffee and eating chocolate-I’ll stop and think “I need to remember this moment for the journal. Wonder if anything else will top this by the end of the day?”
  • Challenge myself to HAVE happy moments, and a variety of them. Although there’s no rule against writing down the same happy moment multiple days in a row (maybe you love drinking tea and reading the paper in the morning, and nothing tops that feeling for the rest of the day-legit!), I still feel compelled to think of new things from day to day. And on more difficult days, I’m challenged to dig deeper to find a ray of sunshine in all the crappiness the day brought me. Even if it’s something as minor as “took a long, hot shower and stayed in way longer than I needed to” or “laughed at a someecard I found online.”
  • Learn things about myself and what makes me happy. What is meaningful to me? What did I think made me happy but never shows up in my journal? What makes me surprisingly happy? These are the things I should cling to and nurture in my life.
  • See trends and gauge my general happiness. Since I’ve only been doing this for two weeks, this one isn’t super valuable yet. But I could see how it could be helpful to flip back through your journal and be able to get a general sense of “wow, I do have it pretty good and I am pretty happy” or “man, I am in kind of a rut.”

Have you ever started any kind of happiness journal? If not, would you like to?

Something to think about:

good things

~Kim

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