The act of keeping a happy journal (or a gratitude journal) is a very small and simple act that can be so immensely helpful for achieving higher levels of happiness in your life. It seems hokey and new-age-y to some, but if you can get past the potential stigma attached to this activity, you will see your life change in ways you didn’t know were possible.
I’ve been keeping a happy journal for years, and recommend it to anyone I talk to. I’m so glad more and more people are doing it. Someone recently asked me if I felt weird that something I’ve been doing for so long has become so popular and the answer is absolutely not. I preach it because I believe it, and my genuine desire is for everyone to try this practice.
If you’re at a loss for how to start keeping a happy journal, I’ve written a 101 post you might enjoy. Today, though, I want to explore more options with you because writing with a pen in a composition notebook might not appeal to you. I so strongly want you to try this that I’ve come up with a bunch of different ways you can begin the practice. See what appeals to you the most and go for it!
10 Ways To Keep A Happy Journal
1) A Notebook
You can purchase a pre-decorated notebook, either spiral or bound. You can buy a plain book and decorate the cover. You can bind your own book together with blank paper and thread.
You can use ruled or unruled pages. You can write in pen, pencil, marker, crayon, highlighter, permanent marker, colored pencil. You can type your entries on a typewriter and insert them later. You can write in print, cursive, or all caps. You can alternate every word or every line with a different color.
You can paste in ephemera such as pictures, ticket stubs, and things you found that day. You can carry the book with you everywhere you go. You can hide it under your bed and never show it to anyone.
You can use slips of paper to write your happy moments down and stuff them into a jar for safe keeping. You can use a clear jar you can see through, an opaque jar to cultivate mystery, or a container that’s not a jar at all. You can choose an object such as a shoe box, can, bottle, hat box, carved out book, safe, or vase to house your entries.
You can make the slips of paper out of anything you like including recycled materials and brightly colored construction paper. You can hand write or type your entries. You can make them as long or short as you want on each slip of paper. You can fold the pieces of paper into origami before you stick them in the jar.
You can display the jar as decoration or keep it hidden. You can reach in the jar as needed to pull out a random happy memory. You can dump all your entries out onto the floor to see in a tangible way how much joy there is in your life.
You can create a document on your computer where you type up your entries. You can keep a note file in an app on your phone. You can create a Google Doc, write an e-mail to yourself, or create a personal or public blog.
You can use any font you like, in any color text. You can use HTML coding to customize the feel of your entries. You can add visuals and hyperlinks to relevant information.
You can keep these digital files secret or share them with the internet in an easy click of your mouse. You can document your happiness from pretty much anywhere in the world, so as along as you have access to the internet you can update your journal.
4) Paper Chain
You can use paper slips to document happy memories and staple them together in a circle. Every new memory gets linked to the previous circle and stapled together, forming a long chain. You can use colorful staples, washi tape, or hot glitter glue to adhere the slips of paper together.
Just like with the jar, you can make the paper slips out of anything and you can hand write or type your words.
You can hang your paper chain in your room as a decoration and reminder of your happy life. As the chain grows, you can feel comfort in knowing you’ve accumulated all these happy memories. You can choose to write the word on the inner side of the links so no one can read them and just say “it’s decoration” when you’re met with questions, or you can share the concept with people who inquire.
Get a calendar with extra space to write each day. It can be a wall, daily, or agenda type calendar. You can use the easy scheduled format as a reminder to write down your entries and you’ll have a compact chronicle of your happy moments at the end of the year.
6) Sticky Note Wall
You can write your happy bits on adhesive Sticky Notes and post them on your wall to create an installation. You’ll be able to see the installation grow as you add to it. You can also choose to place the sticky notes around your house in various places that will make you smile and remember things as you go about your chores and day.
You can utilize a variety of novelty Sticky Notes, they come in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes– anything from a pink high heel shoe to a speech bubble to a star. You can easily move the Sticky Notes as you desire, and they won’t damage any walls.
You can create a video diary that captures how you look, the inflection of your voice, and how you truly feel with video footage. You can record your face or moments or your feet, with the added value of audio as part of your media.
You can keep your video files on your laptop or phone, or you can share them with the world on a YouTube channel. This is an amazing thing to have to look back on in the future.
8) Dry Erase Board
If you’re not into the idea of having a permanent collection of happy journal entries, you might try a dry erase or chalkboard. You can write your entries down every day and then wipe them away when you’re ready to write another. You can use multi-colored markers or chalk and include drawings as well.
If the idea of a dry erase board appeals to you, but the concept of impermanence does not, consider writing your entries on the board and taking a photo (either digital or instant film) that you can catalog and archive your entries with. Don’t forget that dry erase markers also work on mirrors!
There are many evolving scrapbook-based projects that you can utilize for your happy journal such as Project Life. You can use the slots allocated for photos for your lists as well as ephemera and pictures to create a multimedia project. You can also create your own scrapbook the old fashioned way with square cardstock, glue sticks, and stickers. You can use your love of ephemera and mixed media to create a visually pleasing memory book of your happy life.
10) Instant Film
Although this is probably the most pricey option, it might appeal to the photographer/visual creative in you. You could use instant film to take a picture of yourself every day and on the back of it write the date and your entry of things that made you happy. You could also take a picture of an thing/place/person that made you happy that day and list any additional items on the back. You can keep your film in a photo album or shoebox.
You can do this with digital photos, too! Post a photo to Instagram with the caption being your gratitude/happy list. That way you don’t have to store physical photos if you don’t want.
Ready to take the next step to get a grateful life? Take my FREE e-course: “7 Steps To A Grateful Life”!
Want even more tips, tricks, and support with your journey of self love? Treat yourself to my e-course, Self Love: The Key To Happiness.