Ever since I was a teenager, I have kept a journal. I was an only child and my parents worked a lot, so instead of talking to others I simply began writing down my experiences. Of course, when you’re the daughter of overprotective parents and home by yourself for hours on end as a teenager in the 1980’s…you don’t have much to write about. “Why do my parents work so much?” “I wish I was more popular.” “Rick Springfield is so hot, I wanna be his girlfriend.”
Journals became an integral part of my comedy journey in 2002-2004, when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She suggested writing 3 pages every day, and I did for years. Guess what I wrote? “Why does my husband work so much?” “I wish I was a famous comedian.” “I wish I was popular like Britney Spears.”
I journaled heavily again in 2009, when my mom became seriously ill. a few years after my dad died. “My parents worked so hard, and now they’re either sick or dead.” “I’m never going to be a famous comedian if all I do is take care of my mom.” “Tiger Woods was screwing around on that beautiful wife of his? What an idiot.”
In 2015, I journaled hard! “Mom is sick again and I have to take care of her full-time.” “My comedy career is done because I can’t go on the road anymore.”“My husband and I split up, and my heart is broken in a million pieces.”
Journaling became a place to air my grievances with life. I have 15+ books of “what a shitty life” and “why can’t I be more popular?” to show for it. Yuck.
In August of last year, I was supposed to go to Hypnothoughts 2020. I opted to stay home as riding in an airplane for 5 hours and wearing a mask for 12+ hours a day was not an attractive option to me. I signed up for a class with hypnosis instructor Robert G Smith and took his class virtually. Throughout the class he kept talking about this “Happy Journal.”
Huh? What? I have been journaling about unhappiness for 40 years. WTF Robert?
Robert encourages all of his students to keep a happy journal because our neurology is wired to protect us from pain and misery, not necessarily to remember what’s good in our lives. Sometimes we get so good trying to protect ourselves from pain, that we get too good at it. When we get so good at protecting ourselves from pain…depression, anxiety, and PTSD can set in. In order to deal with the bad memories, it’s important to remember the good times in life. Keeping a happy journal and reading it daily does that. We begin practicing “happy.”
I decided to follow his advice. I’ve been keeping a strictly happy journal for two months now and I absolutely love it. Most days, I spend 15-30 minutes working on my happy journal every morning. The changes have been astounding. I am happier. I take disappointments in stride. I have begun making the life changes I’ve been wanting to make for years. It’s truly amazing.
Here’s how it works:
Take a notebook, and divide it into 5 sections.
Section 1: Happy Memories.
You can write out your happy memories in full, or just leave a few key details to remember the happy memory by. Happy memories are sacred! Happy memories can be remembering when you met your significant other, an achievement, or just spending time with a loved one.
Section 2: Affirmations and Declarations.
Affirmations and Declarations are anything positive and good about yourself, or anything positive and good about how you wish to be. For example: I am loving. I am always on time or early. I am smart. I achieve anything I set my mind to. You can also add clippings from articles, horoscopes, numerology, astrology, or even fortune cookies. Be creative!
Section 3: Goals and Dreams
What do you want? What do you wish you had? Write it down here, but the trick is to write it down as if you already have it or did it! What you believe, you achieve. For example: I earn $250,000 a year, helping people become the next best version of themselves. If you're visual - add photos!
Section 4: Gratitude
What are you thankful for? Who are you thankful for? Write those happy thoughts down here.
Section 5: Gems
The little pieces that keep us going; quotes, memes, pictures, sayings, poems, music, anything that resonates positivity throughout your soul.
I decided to “invest” in my happiness with a good quality, 6-ring binder and dividers so I can add pages to each section as needed (about $40), but you can get started with a notebook from the dollar store.
Set aside 15 minutes each day (I do mine while drinking my coffee) and review your happy memories, bits of wisdom, and notice how your days change by focusing on the good in your life.
Here’s a few quotes I just wrote in my GEMS to help get you started:
It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ~Napoleon Hill
Discard everything that does not spark joy. ~Marie Kondo
Do more of what makes you happy!
I use a journal similar to the one pictured below, which you can order from HERE.
You can order these tabs/refill pages HERE.
Not a pen/paper kind of person? Try the Day One app.