I have never quite been the journaling type. I have always wanted to, God knows how hard I tried – trips to Kikki.K, buying expensive journals (and not using them), my Japanese stationery collection that can rival Kinokuniya and Tokyu Hands. I tried, but failed miserably. And after that, I proceeded to I hide my unused (2% does not count right?) Kikki.K journals (yes, journals. There was more than one, I never learn); out of sight, to shield me from the guilt and shame that I did not belong to the mindful, got all their sh*t together and priorities well sorted out, journal writing club. I never told anyone, not even my sister whom I share everything with, so typing this out here is quite a big deal. Anyway, yes, I was a journal writing failure. Did you catch that? I said ‘was’ people! Past tense.
Cue, The Five Minute Journal. When founder Shan Shan, of An Uplifted Day reached out asking if I was interested in trying out the journal, I was super excited, said YES! immediately, and afterwards grew slightly apprehensive. You can understand why right? Nobody wants to fail at journal writing again for the umpteenth time, especially not me. It would have been embarrassing and utterly demoralising. But the eternal optimist in me said to keep an open mind and just try.
The box arrived and it was lovingly and thoughtfully packaged. I could tell that Shan Shan had personally wrapped it herself – you just know when someone does something with earnest intention. I could feel it. She included a card with a thought provoking quote, ‘What is one thing you can do today that your future self will thank you for?’ and also a surprise lucky troll which brought me back to my childhood and totally made my day! (If you are a kid from the 80s, you would know what troll I’m talking about, not the one in LOTR)
It was in that moment, that I experienced my first taste of what An Uplifted Day stand for – they mean exactly that – to source for thoughtfully well-curated, meaningful essentials, to inspire and brighten up our daily life; to help us have our best day, every day.
Nothing makes me happier than getting acquainted with genuine individuals who are passionate at making a difference to the lives of others, who sincerely care about uplifting others by sharing their vision and good-heartedness. My heart broke into big warm smile that day.
The reason why this review took a while is because I didn’t jump into it immediately. I gave myself some time because I wanted to be ready. I wanted to be sure about committing to myself and to making this change. If there is anything growing up and growing older has taught me, it’s the wisdom of knowing not to bullish*t myself – meaning: to be completely and utterly honest with myself at all times.
Are you familiar with the phrase, ‘Don’t half-ass anything. Whatever you do, always use your full ass‘? That’s exactly how I felt. Like the journal suggests, it is not some magic pill – change will happen when you are ready to put in the work and commit to it, otherwise, it is very likely you will fall off the bandwagon.
So, with that in mind, I began my journey.
What I first noticed about The Five Minute Journal is that unlike other journals, this is a legit book. By that I mean it’s not a bunch of (almost) blank pages with nary any explanation or guidance, but merely the template phrase – ‘list 3 things you are grateful for’ on all 365 pages, expecting you to magically have an epiphany on how to live a more mindful life. Instead, The Five Minute Journal actually walks you through the process, kind of like having a good friend to journey with – you know you’re being supported. To give you a little insight, the sections are broken down like this:
- Five reasons why you’ll love it
- How it works
- Some basic principles – the magic of writing in the journal first thing in the morning and right before bed time.
- The routine – why creating repetition ultimately leads to belief; positive affirmations are the shizz. They work, period.
- Weekly challenges – this is fun!
- Your commitment – you write one to yourself – this is how you know you’re really being serious. If you love yourself, make this count.
- Truth & actions – getting real with yourself, like real, real; what are your biggest challenges that might throw you off and actions you can take to overcome this. The more honest you are with yourself, the better.
- The journal – where you create your magic
I know right?! Told you this journal was different. Not only is it different, it actually works! I have noticed a shift in my awareness and my overall well-being. I am happier! Even my sister noticed it.
What I really love about it is the support it provides and the practical encouragement given to help you kickstart and follow-through with your commitment. According to the creators, the journal was created by combining the proven elements of positive psychology, and based on my experience, I will tell you truthfully that these positive affirmations work.
The common theme supporting The Five Minute Journal is the repetition and strong emphasis on gratitude and positive affirmations – it will shift your awareness and it will change you. You will find yourself feeling happier and more content, even at the littlest things. The secret though is to be consistent.
The journal is made up of 2 main sections, the morning routine and the night routine. The beauty is that it has been structured such where you begin your day on a good note nurtured with gratitude, and you end off each day right before heading to bed by reflecting on some of the amazing things that happened. It is about cultivating this habit of positivity throughout. And the best part, it only takes FIVE MINUTES! Yes, you read that right. Five minutes out of our whole day is barely anything to ask of. I’m sure we can all afford that little bit of time of self care.
Okay, moving on, I’d like to go a little deeper and share my experience as well as some personal observations. This is where the magic is.
The Morning Routine:
The daily quotes – the journal is peppered with an inspiring quote at the start of each new day. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about inspirational quotes from some very wise individuals throughout history which help to shift my perspective and inspire me to do better. They are a great way to start my day and I love them.
Starting the day with gratitude – I will stress this over and over like a broken tape recorder: an attitude of gratitude will change your life. You will feel happier, more content, you develop a shift in mindset, you radiate more positively and your energy field vibrates at a higher level. Literally, you feel more uplifted without realising.
To elaborate a little more on this, let me share a personal anecdote: I was sitting on my bed one morning and thinking about what I was grateful for that day. It was a really stuffy, hot and humid morning – I had already taken my shower and yet I was already perspiring and feeling sticky from the humidity, which I will tell honestly, I hate. But yet somehow as I sat there in absolute discomfort, I found myself penning down: ‘I am grateful for the good weather – there are no natural disasters in Singapore’. I didn’t write that because it was the right thing to say. I wrote it because I really meant it.
And as soon I had written it down, it was as if my consciousness took a step back and looked at myself from the outside and thought, wow! Why? Because given a few weeks earlier, I’m telling you now, there was no way I would have felt truly grateful for the mucky weather, let alone called it ‘good weather‘. I would have complained to no end like an ungrateful brat.
Gratitude is a conscious choice and I have learned that no matter how dire or unpleasant a situation may be, there is always something to be grateful for. Always. The more you practice it, the more you will reap its rewards.
What would make today great? – I really like this because it allows me to set the framework and tone of the day; what kind of day do I want for myself? Sort of like creating a simple happiness goal plan. It can be as specific or generic as I want it to be. It also serves as a reminder of anything I have been meaning to work on – e.g self care, relationship maintenance, self-improvement, etc.
Daily affirmations – This was new to me. Prior to this, I hadn’t hopped onto the affirmation bandwagon, mostly because this didn’t quite resonate with me. Maybe it is my Asian upbringing? Making statements like ‘I am beautiful’ seemed overly conceited and shameless – and then I realised – I need to believe in these affirmations. If I didn’t, it would be a sign to prod, dig deeper, and work on them.
One thing I do know for sure is that the statement ‘I AM’ is a powerful one. You need to believe and own it when you say it. Be honest and gentle with yourself. If there is a quality that I am struggling with but want to develop, I like to use the phrase: ‘Just for today, I am patient/kind/compassionate/non-judgemental….‘.
Just for today – the idea is to start small, and grow it slowly. And if I am not feeling very loved, appreciated or beautiful, a favourite of mine is: ‘I am a child of God/The Divine/whoever you believe in; I am lovingly created in his likeness and perfect in his eyes’. There are certain things that are beyond my human capacity and for those issues, I like to offer them up to a greater power.
The Night Routine:
3 Amazing things that happened today – This is very much like The Happiness Jar I wrote about previously. I love this idea because similar to practicing gratitude, it works on the premise of cultivating positivity. It encourages me to reflect on something good that happened during the day; it can be as simple finding fresh strawberries at the supermarket to getting recognition at work, or witnessing an act of kindness on the train. The point is, it was something that I found amazing and had put a smile on my face.
How could I have made today even better? – This is a personal reflection I have grown to appreciate and enjoy. Things don’t always go our way, some days are better than others, and even on good days there is always room for improvement. I love that this question encourages me to dig deep and think about what I could have done better; pitfalls I could have avoided; how I may address certain issues differently in future. When I know better, I can do better.
Whoops! I didn’t realise how long this post has gotten. I hope you are still here with me?
So, what have I learnt? That I am no longer a journaling failure! The problem was simply that I did not have the RIGHT journal. Yes.
To sum up, it has been almost 3 weeks that I have stuck around and I can honestly tell you that it has become part of my everyday routine. I have seen a shift in my awareness, my mindset has changed and my overall well-being has improved. I am definitely happier! I even look forward to each new day so that I can start afresh and pen my thoughts down in the journal, something which completely surprised me.
If you enjoy journaling or looking at ways to uplift and better yourself, I highly encourage you to try The Five Minute Journal. This is definitely something I recommend to my friends and family and would personally gift them.
Have you tried The Five Minute Journal? What journals do you love? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂
Note: The Five Minute Journal was kindly sent to me for review. This blog entry and all opinions expressed within are my own. I would only recommend a product, service, or brand if I strongly believe in it and would repurchase with my own money.