My Happiness Journal Project

I’ve started journaling. I know, I know.  The idea of journaling sounds a little hokey and geared toward someone with plenty of time on their hands and not something for working women like you and me.

In fact, if you are anything like me, you gave up on journaling sometime around 9th grade when you read through your 8th grade journal entries and discovered how theatrical you sounded.  Hindsight helped you realize that spilling your soup in the Jr. High lunch line really wasn’t the end of the world.

More recently, I have been so remiss on logging my life chronicles that both my daughters’ baby books are definitely thinner than they ought to be.

So why take it up now when I am lucky if I get a 10 minute jog in a couple times a week or a brief daily synopsis with my husband? The idea of creating a happiness journal came to me after reading several articles geared towards increasing your happiness.

One of the repeated suggestions was to make it a priority to recognize what makes you grateful each and every day so I decided to take 2 minutes each day after lunch to jot down something(s) that I was thankful for in the past 24 hours. I called this my happiness journal and I resolved to look back after a month and identify themes.

Aside from having and mothering two very spirited girls, this is one of the best things I have done.  I can say that after my month long happiness journal experiment, I will keep at this exercise and I encourage each of my clients to do the same.  Here are 4 reasons why:

  1. Validation. For me, I found validation in that I love what I do.  I love helping people formulate career plans that assist them in achieving their career goals. Most of my entries included a quick statement such as “made my day to hear ______ got a second interview after our coaching session.”
  2. Passion Identification. Journaling can help you identify an unknown passion.  One client I work with did this exercise for several weeks and was surprised to learn that more often than not she was grateful for teaching moments; times when she helped a colleague learn something new.  This new found knowledge has inspired her to go for more managerial roles within her organization.
  3. Carpe Diem, “Seize the day.” Journaling has helped motivate me to live in the moment with my family and really aim to revel in those sweet moments of nighttime rituals, rowdy playtime, and innocent discovery that inhabits every day with small children.  Admittedly, I still struggle in the whole carpe diem idea when I am checking out at the grocery store with both girls in tow and one is walking towards a perfect stranger’s cart hoping to find a toy inside and the other is reaching for the M&M’s at checkout.  I am a work in progress, what can I say?
  4. More Happiness. This is the whole point, right? Living a life of gratitude is good for the soul. I found taking 2 minutes out of my day to recognize all the good and decent things that occur in my life absolutely made me a happier person.  Just ask my husband, coworkers, and children!

Try journaling.  Give a couple minutes a day to discover what a daily documentation of your gratitude can do for you and your life.

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Maggie Tomas

Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.


Jeromy Villeda

This is just AWESOME… Couldn’t be any clearer. Thanks Marc and Angel. Life seems more manageable since I start reading your posts.


Great article Maggie. I agree that we get bogged down with the every day news. A two minute recap of what is good in the world is great.

Maggie Tomas

Thanks Heather! I know, I felt the same way. I only seemed to be journaling when a huge life event happened and I needed to process it. I have truly found that taking a few minutes each day to reflect on all of the positivity around me has helped with my outlook and provided new insight.


What a great idea! I journal when I need to get something off my mind, but I like the notion of journaling when you are happy too. I’ll have to implement this exercise.


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