Journaling is probably one of the earliest selfhelp tools in the history of mankind. You will find people talking about its virtues in any era, region, and culture. It is astonishing however why, despite being ancient and powerful, not enough people make it a regular habit, including me.
I’m into writing (almost) everyday, but I still struggle with keeping a daily journal that talks about myself, especially if I have published on my blog something that was also about myself. Therefore, lengthy daily journal entries are not going to be much of an option for me along with daily publishing a blogpost, at least not for now.
The idea of the Five-Minute Journal, by Alex Ikonn solves exactly this problem. It is a book and a journal at the same time. You won’t need more than 5 minutes to fill out a daily entry, yet it can have profound impact on your life, especially if it becomes a habit. As the author says,
Spectacular results are a product of intelligent design and herculean consistency.
I indeed think the design part is intelligent. It consists of 5 questions, with an explanation of why answering those on a daily basis really matters. After that, there are empty pages for half a year. In addition to that, there is an inspirational and powerful quote for each day. There are also some random weekly challenges to spice things up.
The questions to be answered on a daily basis are:
- I am grateful for…
- What would make today great?
- Daily affirmations. I am…
- Amazing things happened today…
- How could I have made today better?
You need to answer each question with three items. The first three questions are going to be asked first thing in the morning, and the other two right before going to bed.
The justification for each question are based on some positive psychology principles that I am not going to explain in detail here, but they are explained pretty well in the short book. However staring and ending your day with positive thoughts is definitely a great habit that almost everybody can agree on, with or without science to support it. Getting used to appreciate the good things in your life everyday is also a well-known recipe for happiness. Furthermore, reflecting critically on what you did everyday and think about how you might do better is also an important prerequisite for personal improvement.
But having all that in 5 question that don’t take more than 5 minutes to answer is indeed a very smart idea. Some people might have more to say about themselves than just answering 5 questions. However for those who don’t have the energy and time to write lengthy entries about their day, the Five-Minute Journal is definitely a good approach to follow. I’ve added it to my daily habits, using an app called Grid Diary, that I customized to make a Five-Minute Journal out of it. However there is also native app for that.