What is a Happiness Journal

You have heard the term “Happiness Journal” but you have no idea what the heck one is.  Maybe you even read my post “How to Make a Happiness Journal”, but you still aren’t sure exactly what a happiness journal is, nor how it can help you in your everyday life.  Fear not, dear reader.  This post will give you all of the answers you seek, Not only about what a happiness journal is, but how it can help you find your path to happiness. 

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What is a Happiness Journal

A happiness journal is a journal where you record at least three things a day that make you happy.  I am not talking about big things, you don’t write down “My dog makes me happy” 7 days a week.  The idea is to find three little things each day and write it down.  Maybe you heard a great joke, maybe you watched a stranger do a kindness for someone else or maybe someone paid you a compliment.

Whatever it is you see that day, you write it down.  You must find at least three things per day, but you can write as many as you like.   At first, you might have a hard time coming up with those three things, I did.  Especially on the bad days.  Those days I struggled to find three things, and honestly, I may have made a few things up just to fill my quota and feel like I accomplished something for the day.

As time went on, I started finding it easier to see those three things.  It was a really worldview changing experience.  I saw the frogs in the pond, noticed the person holding the door for me and saw the 80-year-old couple holding hands.

Here is the most amazing part, it not only changed my worldview, it changed my family’s.

My Happiness Journal Story

My family sat down for dinner and began talking like we do many nights.  As I listened to everyone’s story for the day a horrible realization dawned on me, the only thing we talked about was the bad things happened each day. Like the daily news, the only thing we were focusing on was the negative aspects of our lives and it was dragging us down.

We didn’t leave the dinner table lifted up.  We left the dinner table grumbling about our misfortunes for the day. Someone cut me off,  a person held up the line and made me late, I spilled my soda on my homework and the teacher wouldn’t accept it.

This was a tough realization to swallow and I was just as guilty as the rest of my family.  So I started researching. What can I do each day to change the conversation?

I looked at happiness jars, daily affirmations, and even professional counseling.   I tried a few different ideas, but nothing seemed to stick, so when I came across an article about happiness journals I was intrigued, but not optimistic.

I already kept a daily journal, so this seemed like something I might actually be able to follow through with. Turns out, I know me pretty well.   It took some time but I have been keeping a happiness journal for a few years now and it has really changed my perception.  More importantly, it changed our dinner conversations.

I started asking everyone, “what good happened to you today?”  At first, I got the standard blank teenage stare, but eventually (because they knew I was going to beat it out of them!) they started anticipating the question and looking for the good things to tell Mom at dinner tonight.

Soon I started seeing the same shift in their world as I saw in my own.  They were less apt to gripe and more apt to tell me about how happy the girl who won the science contest at school was. (Despite the fact they had lost)

Why it Works

Starting a happiness journal changes your focus.  Just like my kids started to look for things to shut me up at dinner, you will start looking for things to put in your journal each night.  You will start seeing the sun streaming through the clouds, you will notice that door being held open for you and you will see the people who smile all around you.

Don’t get me wrong,  bad things will still happen to you. There will still be disappointments, there will still be irritating coworkers and some jerk will still cut you off in traffic.  But by changing your focus those bad things don’t seem quite so bad.  The good things start balancing the bad things and suddenly your life will seem a little brighter.

Focusing on the good brings more good into your life.

I encourage you to try a happiness journal and to share your experience with your family.  I hope your dinner conversation becomes a little brighter and you leave the table lifted up.




  1. Bethany

    May 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I loved this post, Michele. So well written – especially the organization of your thoughts. You had me from the beginning and my mind never wandered. I’m inspired to start a happiness journal of my own!

    1. Michele Cook

      May 12, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks for the compliments Bethany! I hope you do start one, and I hope you start pestering your children to find good things about their days!

  2. Misty | Home Health and Happiness

    May 30, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Michele that is such a great idea and an awesome story. I’m going to start mine today. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Michele Cook

      May 31, 2017 at 6:51 am

      Thanks Misty,
      I hope it has the same effect on your​family as it had on mine.


  3. Nancy Andres

    August 8, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Great post Michelle. What we focus on multiplies. Wish you had suggested the woman’s self-care journal, “Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss.” Colors create all kinds of Happiness, and this book offers tips and journal exercises to show many ways the reader can draw more joy into daily living.

    1. Michele Cook

      August 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks Nancy!
      I will check out the book, it sounds great. There are so many studies proving colors do effect us, ask any advertiser 🙂

  4. Anuradha

    September 8, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Lovely. A must do

    1. Michele Cook

      September 8, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks Anuradha! I hope you enjoy it!

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