a good day

Today had almost all of my most loved things: my favorite vegan brunch (grits! mushrooms! TATER TOTS!!!), holiday decorations all over Pittsburgh, the prettiest views of the Allegheny River, and rare cuddles from Chloe. Not pictured: all the books I bought for family gifts, the sweater I bought myself at an arts and crafts show, free food and drinks at my office holiday party, and the most delightful Christmas episode of The Great British Bake Off.

Days like this make all the hard ones worth it.

the five-minute journal

Until about two weeks ago, my mornings started with me lying in bed, a cat snuggled up to me, scrolling through Instagram or Twitter for half an hour to wake up. Now, the cat’s still there, but I grab this book from my nightstand instead of my phone:

the start of my mornings: journal, chai tea and The New York Times in bed

I got it at Urban Outfitters on Black Friday (I don’t normally do capitalism to that degree, but I live right by a store and they had a really good sale going and I got that What Do You Meme game, OK!!!!!) and man, I really had no idea how much I would end up loving this thing. (But it was $25 so thank god I do. I’d feel pretty stupid for spending that much money otherwise.)

Basically every word written in the introduction is something my therapist has told me in a session about positive psychology, practicing gratitude and its benefits, etc. Then you’re told to sign a pledge to write in the journal for the first five consecutive and give yourself a benign kind of “punishment” if you don’t honor that pledge.

Each daily entry starts with an inspirational quote, except for once a week, when you’re given a challenge to complete — the first one is to call a friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with, which was really cool for me! Then you write three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make your day great (ideally things you can do yourself), and you’re given a space for daily affirmations. I tend to write things about myself that aren’t true yet but that I’m working on.

Then, right before bed, you complete the last two sections: writing three amazing things that happened in your day, and way(s) that you could have made the day even better.

It’s a nice way to start your day, and even if the rest of my day goes to shit, I like knowing that I focused on positive things at the start and end of it. (I’m also one of those people who does especially well when I have written goals for the day.) It’s almost stupidly simple, and I feel a little lame gushing over it this much, but people underestimate how much reframing your thoughts helps with your mood on a typical day. I’m not feeling as anxious in the mornings as I was before, which is a huge deal for me.

If you don’t wanna drop $25 on a fancy journal, you could totally make yourself a daily template in Microsoft Word and make copies to keep in a binder by your bed. There’s nothing in The Five-Minute Journal that you can’t already Google, but I like having a pretty little canvas-bound book to look at when I wake up — it makes me feel fancy :~)

P.S. You can buy the journal here.