The five minute journal is a good way to integrate gratitude and focus on positive into your life. As the name implies, it requires you to spend about 5 minutes a day on journaling. But unlike many other journaling techniques, this one has a specific purpose.
The company sells a fill-in-the-blanks journal on Amazon, and they also have an iPhone app (that I use). However, you don’t need to buy anything to do this. You can do this with any piece of paper or a note-taking app. Simply follow these morning and evening routines.
Write down three things you are grateful for
They could be small or big things. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find something you can be happy about. It could be that you’ve found this course and have decided to take action to improve your situation. If you slept well last night, you could write that down. The important thing is to get you to focus on something you consider as positive, even if it’s only a small thing.
Write down what would make today great
Write down a couple of things that would make the coming day good for you. Again, these don’t have to be huge things. Some examples you could write include:
- Today I will do my best to stop obsessing over my skin
- I will smile to other people so they will notice my smile instead of my pimples
- I will not skip social activities even if I’m embarrassed by my skin
- I will follow through with this journal and take 5 to 10 minutes to meditate in the evening
This is based on the idea that when you set goals, by writing down your intentions, your subconscious mind starts working on them. By setting the intention of stop obsessing over your skin, you are much more likely to notice and stop when you find yourself in front of a mirror finding flaws in your skin.
The daily affirmation is a chance for you to take control of your life. Every time you write it down, you are helping your brain to internalize it. It is you taking a stand and deciding who you want to be.
A couple of things to keep in mind when writing your affirmations:
- The affirmation has to be believable to you. Don’t write “I’m happy and confident despite my acne,” if it rings completely false to you. Repeating an unrealistic affirmation is more likely to make you feel hopeless.
- Instead, use ‘realistic’ affirmations, like “I’m going to do my best to focus on the positives despite of my acne”.
- Use ‘doing’ affirmations instead of ‘achieving’. Doing is something you have control over, whereas achieving something is largely out of your control. Statement type affirmations can also work.
Here are some example affirmations:
- I choose to focus on my strengths instead of wallowing on my faults
- I choose to feel worthy as a human being despite having acne
- I choose to live a happy and fulfilling live despite having acne
- I choose to participate in life – regardless of what my skin looks like
- All is well, right here, right now
- My anxiety is motivation to change or improve
- Depression is just a stepping stone
- I can find something positive in every moment
- The pain I feel today is the strength I feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is an opportunity for growth
Affirmations work the best when they feel true and authentic to you. That’s why I recommend you come up with your own. Start small if that feels right to you. You can always change your affirmation later as your confidence grows.
Earlier we talked about cognitive dissonance, and the discomfort people feel when they act against their beliefs. By using believable affirmations, you can plant a flag and state that this is what you believe, and this is how you choose to behave. Cognitive dissonance kicks in whenever you stray from that.
Before going to bed, take some time to review your day.
Write down three good things that happened today
No matter how bad or rotten you think your day was, I’m sure you can find a few positive things. We create our own depression and anguish by constantly looking at the bad side of life. The purpose of finding a few things that went well is to end the day on a high note. To train your brain to also notice the positive things.
These don’t have to be big things. Examples include:
- I took care of my health by eating healthy foods today
- I went to the gym and got a good workout
- I followed up with my promise to do this journal
- I spent less time today obsessing over my skin
Write down how today could have been better
It’s helpful to review your day when you aren’t emotionally attached to the situation. From this detached perspective, think of some ways you could have done better. Did you spend time obsessing in front of a mirror? Did you let yourself get depressed because of your skin? If so, note down how you could have behaved differently. Perhaps you could have taken a different perspective on things. Maybe you should stick a note on the mirror to remind you not to spend too much time there.
Even better, take a minute or two to visualize yourself acting differently. Your brain cannot fully tell the difference between imagined and real experiences. By reviewing, and visualizing, how you could have done better, you are training your brain to react differently when the same situation arises in the future.