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“The Five Minute Journal”

Grappling with journaling and falling into a rhythm.


By Natalie Hickey 


black and white drawing of watch, breakfast, journal, desk, and woods
Graphic By: Alicia Chiang

Since my childhood, I’ve been enamored with the concept of journaling. Whether observing a TV character confide in their journal, witnessing a friend organize a notebook full of their favorite memories, or noting how Carrie Bradshaw used writing as her personal outlet, I’ve always dreamt of keeping a journal of my own.


Yet, with all of this being said… I’ve always struggled to stick to journaling. This struggle is reflected in the long list of journals I have accumulated, started, and abandoned. I have unintentionally created what could be a small library’s worth of neglected journals. No matter how small or insignificant the excuse may have been, I continuously found a way to slip out of my commitment to my journaling efforts. 


Fortunately, around 2020, this started to change. Blame it on a sporadic burst of motivation or the extra time on my hands during COVID, but I ordered a journal I had seen recommended in a YouTube video – “The Five Minute Journal.”  


Of course, the name is what initially caught my attention, but once I read the author’s foreword, I knew I had found the journal for me. Co-founded by UJ Ramdas and Alex Ikonn, the book’s introduction explains how to use the journal and exactly why the journal works, as backed by science. This explanation grabbed my attention; “The Five Minute Journal” is not just a journal but a thoughtfully designed notebook with the intent to benefit the user’s life. This was certainly not just another blank notebook I could throw into my accumulation of discarded journaling attempts.   


Without over-explaining or spoiling the whole process, the journal is broken into two sections – a few questions for the morning and a few for the evening. The whole purpose of the journal is to increase your gratitude and positivity, even on the busiest days. Some examples of questions are “What are you grateful for,” and “Highlights of the day.” These quick questions allow for attainable and realistic mindfulness, highlighting the positive effects journaling can have on your daily mental health. 


Despite all odds, I am able to stick to this journal! Every morning, I wake up and fill out my questions, starting my morning with gratitude and positivity. Every evening, I get ready for bed by thinking about the highlights of my day (no matter how mundane). I can confidently say that this journal has positively impacted my day-to-day routine and mentality on life. 


If you are like me and have trouble sticking to your journal entries, I highly recommend this journal – whether journaling is something you have previously considered or not. Even if you already manage to journal successfully, I still highly encourage you to start “The Five Minute Journal,” as it is relatively easy to start and can be a quick and easy addition to your pre-existing routine! 


For more information, check out the Intelligent Change website! https://www.intelligentchange.com/pages/our-story 

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