5 Ways Keeping a Journal Boosts Happiness

On-Sentence Journal

More and more, it seems, I hear from people who regularly keep a journal—or who want to do it. That’s not surprising, because keeping a journal can be a great tool for building a happier, healthier, more creative life.

A journal can help us remember happy times and good experiences.

Research shows that recalling happy times from the past helps boost happiness in the present. Also, a journal can help us see the funny side of bad experiences—after all, the things that go wrong often make the best memories. As writer Nora Ephron’s motto holds, “Everything is copy.”

A journal can help us spot patterns in our thoughts and actions.

I have a friend who kept a journal for years, and one summer, she re-read all her old journals. Her realization? “I kept having the exact same epiphany, over and over,” she told me. Reading her journals helped her understand a pattern she’d been trapped in.

A journal can help us make sense of our experiences.

By telling the story of what happened, we often help ourselves to gain perspective and make sense of what happened, so that life feels less chaotic and unpredictable.

A journal helps us remember everything we’ve accomplished, or how far we’ve come.

Just as it’s helpful to have a “ta-da list” as well as a “to-do list,” a journal can serve as an encouraging reminder of our growth and progress. Whenever I happen to refer back to last year on my digital calendar, I think, “Wow, I’ve done so much since then.” It’s a good feeling.

A journal can give us an outlet for our creativity.

Putting thoughts into words is a satisfying, creative act. Some people also incorporate drawings, stickers, or colors as well as writing.

Now, what if you have the itch to keep a journal, but don’t have much time or energy to spare?

If you’re intrigued by the thought of keeping a journal, consider these options from The Happiness Project shop.

One-Sentence Journal

Satisfying yet manageable, the One-Sentence Journal is designed for those who want to keep a record of their lives, but who can’t manage to write a long entry every day. By resolving to write just one sentence a day, you keep it manageable. And, it turns out, one sentence is enough to be satisfying.

Use this journal to record general reflections, creative insights, the progress of a new business or project, sweet memories of a child’s first year, a course of medical treatment, or as a gratitude journal or food or travel journal.

Know Yourself Better Journal

The Know Yourself Better Journal is made for anyone who wishes to gain insight into themselves, but needs more direction than a blank page. In this journal, you’ll find questions and distinctions meant to help you develop self-compassion and understanding, and discover ways you might make your life a little happier.

The Happier™ app

Use the One-Sentence Journal tool in the Happier app to capture highlights from the day, note something you’re grateful for, or record your progress on an aim or project. You can also use the Don’t Break the Chain tool to check off every day you keep up your writing habit, and even set reminders to help you stay consistent. On the “Explore” tab, you’ll find “Know Yourself Better” questions which can act as prompts for your entries.

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