I waited to start until I had finished a couple of other journal-style projects I was working on, and dived into the first pages at the end of February.
I've now completed my '100 days to happy', so thought I'd share my experience with this beautiful little journal.
I haven't planned a structure to this, really, so I'll just put my thoughts under headings as they come to me...
One of the things I've been really working on is adding in little daily habits to my routine. I add one in, get used to it, then throw in an extra. That way, it's a little change at a time but they add up to have a big impact. I've written a post about my habit of reading for 30mins a day, and the rituals now also include meditation, foam rolling, and my pride and gratitude journals.
This was another of those daily habits, and one that really allowed me to focus on goal setting in the context of my feelings. It wasn't just about ticking off a to-do list, but about noticing how my actions were affecting my day-to-day mood.
Through my daily habits, I've really been working on reflecting on my days, on what I'm grateful for and proud of, and what I have achieved and would like to improve on. An extra addition from the happiness planner was the weekly reflection. I used to fill this in on a Monday morning and it really got my week off to a good start.
In case you're interested, here are the thoughts and questions included in the weekly reflection:
- describe the past week in three words
- scoring different emotions numerically, such as stress level and happiness levels
- the week's highs
- the week's lows
- what I learned this week
- who and what I'm thankful for
- what I'd like to improve on/what I hope for
As you can see, it's a fantastic way to reflect on what the week has brought, and I particularly liked ending the roundup with considering what I want to continue working on and improving.
Before you begin the Happiness Planner, there's a section to assess your start point. You need to set aside time to work through these exercises and questions as you do need to think about them, but I found them really worthwhile. I've read a lot of books in the 'self-help' or personal development genre and gone through counselling with various people, and I really liked the fact that these questions were different. Too often, I feel we're asked the same questions, which are meant to motivate or inspire us, but it's often not until that question is altered that you actually get that moment of realisation.
I think this section alone is worth buying the planner, even of you didn't want to take it further - that's how invaluable I found the process of answering the questions in these first 10-15 pages. You think hard about your strengths and weaknesses, character traits and what you're grateful for in your life, before moving onto your dreams, what you hope to bring more of into your life, and where you see yourself over the next few years.
At the end of the Happiness Planner is a similar section full of questions, which are again interesting but I wasn't as taken by these. I think that by the end of the process I had got into such a routine of being aware of my feelings, setting and achieving mini goals, and doing other personal development work alongside the Planner, that I sort of didn't need such a long set of questions. I've got to take into account that fact that I've been going through a pretty intensive process of changing my life after reaching a real low point with my anxiety and depression last year. For me, the Planner was one part of a whole host of tools I've been using. For anyone using the Planner just as an addition to day-to-day life, these questions would most likely be far more interesting.
This section is very self-reflective again, and allows the opportunity to look back over the whole Planner and consider what has changed. It's about the happy moments, the skills you've learned, the habits you've cultivated and what you discovered about yourself.
Without a doubt, the Happiness Planner has been a beautiful fixture in my life for the 100 days I used it, and it helped me focus. It was a daily habit that focused on gratitude, on looking ahead and on making each day better than the next in a very realistic fashion. The message of the Planner is that small daily and weekly steps can add up to have a huge impact over only 100 days, which is certainly true.
If you don't like routine and structure, or aren't prepared to spend time on self-reflection, you're going to need to alter that mindset before investing as you'll only get out what you put into it. It doesn't take hours, but it does involve taking proper time each day and week for reflection, in order to continue to make progress.
As mentioned earlier, I've been using the Happiness Planner during an intense period of change in my life, so the Planner hasn't been the sole reason for my progress and change in mindset, but it's been a really important and valued part of that process.
It's a beautiful book, and an ideal gift to yourself or someone you know would spend the time and really appreciate it. I was excited when I received it, but by the end of the 100 days I liked it far more than I had expected to (and those original expectations were high).