How to be happier: 5 Minute Journal Review

Two years ago, I was finding myself in a particularly negative state of mind. I was frequently angry, feeling anxious and emotionally wild; an unpredictable storm.

To help me overcome this mindset and work on being a more positive person for myself, my children and my close relationships, I decided to try journaling (along with attempting a meditation practice and daily exercise).

I’d been told by numerous people in the business and psychology space that journaling was one of the simplest, most effective things you could do every day to be happier. And I figured – if I could spend 5 minutes a day doing something that might make a difference to my outlook, then why not give it a go?

At worst I would be wasting 5 minutes of my time and the money that I’d paid to buy a journal.

At best, I could become consistently happier!

Five Minute Journal

My 5 Minute Journal Review

I’ve now been journaling for 2 years with the Five Minute Journal. I think my consistent practice has held me in great stead for being more centred during these challenging times.

Even better, my kids have picked up on the concept. We now talk every night at the dinner table about our 3 amazing things and what we’re grateful for.

Yes, even during tough and challenging times, we can still find things to be happy about – and often choosing to think positively is one of the few things that is still within our control.

Here’s my review of the 5 Minute Journal and why I think it benefits everyone, young and old. I encourage you to give it a go!

Why should you journal?

It’s been proven that shifting your focus to the positive can dramatically improve your happiness. And a journal is a practical way to implement positive thinking into your daily routine.

Journaling is also a tool employed by many successful people to reinforce goals (small and large). It helps increase mental clarity, and also gives you a record to look back on to see growth, achievements and trigger positive memories.

Fmj Open Page

What is the 5 Minute Journal?

The Five Minute Journal aims to help each user increase the productivity and positivity in their life. It’s sort of a combination of a gratitude journal and a goal-setting journal.

The journal asks the same set of questions each day, three in the morning and two in the evening. It encourages you to think about your day and form the habit of feeling gratitude.

It is ok when filling out the Five Minute Journal to start with basics – even if you are grateful for the roof over your head, or a lovely sunny day. After the Victorian bushfires of Summer 2020 I am frequently grateful for having fresh, clean air to breathe – not being able to go out because of choking bushfire smoke really highlighted what I’d always taken for granted.

It is also ok to answer repetitively, whether that is an intentional mindfulness practice or simply because the answer just is the same. In the mornings I am often grateful for my warm and comfortable bed, and appreciate the fact that for many people this is not a reality.

The last daytime question is a daily affirmation. There are two approaches to this:  create one affirmation and write it every day until you really feel it (the hammer approach), or write a different affirmation each day, depending on how you feel (the butterfly approach).

Fmj Annotated Open Page

The lower section of the page is shaded to delineate morning and evening. The last two questions of each daily page are filled out in the evening, before you go to sleep. 

The journal challenges you to redefine what is amazing to you, and again perhaps embrace the small things. For me, it can be a cup of peppermint tea, seeing wildlife on my daily run or cuddling my kids.

Over time you will start forming the habit of building a mental list of amazing things as you go through your day. You’ll find that more often than not there are MORE than 3 amazing things. Even within a day, it’s so easy to forget your delicious breakfast or the loving hug you got when you woke up.

And lastly, you are asked what you could have done to make your day even better. This is another question that may generate a repetitive answer – for me, it’s often ‘not shouted at X’!

It’s recommended that you keep your journal and a pen by your bed so it’s on hand for morning and evening – habit forming makes it easy to journal.

If life, excuses and email meant that you’ve never started or stuck with writing in a journal – Five Minute Journal will eliminate your excuses!

Five Minute Journal Inside

Do I need to use the Five Minute Journal?

There are lots of journaling products and gratitude journals available, so you might want try a few out to find which one is right for your practice.

I use the Five Minute Journal because it’s been recommended by entrepreneurs that I respect such as Tim Ferriss and Pat Flynn (and other celebrities!).

The Five Minute Journal cover

But you could go through the same daily exercise using another similar journal or a blank notepad.

However, I particularly like the features of the 5 Minute Journal which are not available in just a plain notebook:

  • a daily positive quote to start your day off on the right note;
  • a structure to help you focus on what’s good;
  • a weekly challenge; and
  • the hardback, clothbound feel of the cover, making it feel special!
Five Minute Journal Closeup

Here are a few more journalling options, all available on Amazon:

By the way, if you choose to purchase from Amazon, I recommend trying out an Amazon Prime membership, which is just $6.99 a month (and you can cancel at any time).  You get free shipping with no minimum spend and other Amazon Prime member benefits such as great entertainment, exclusive early access to deals and more. With Amazon Prime you can save heaps of money and cancel at any time.

How long does the Five Minute Journal last?

One Five Minute Journal covers you for 6 months of consistent journaling. So if you buy 2 at a time (for free shipping) it will last you for a year.

Each page is undated – so if you miss a day (or a few), you haven’t wasted pages. You just pop the date on the page in the morning before you start to fill anything in.

5 Minute Journal Inside Blank

Is there a Five Minute Journal for kids?

When I first started journaling there was no kids version, so each of my kids received the standard Five Minute Journal.

While both kids did try to use the Five Minute Journal, the feedback from Lady AB was that it was too ‘dull, with just lots of lines’ and ‘adult’. On reflection, it’s not really made to be a kids journal.

Fmj For Kids

Since then Intelligent Change has released a Five Minute Journal for Kids. It’s a journal aimed at 5 to 12-year-olds, though like all journals for kids I think age 7-12 years is more realistic. Kids need to be able to write more independently to get the most out of kids journals.

It is a slightly simplified version of the Five Minute Journal, with sunny yellow-toned pages and more age-appropriate questions. 

I love that the last daily question is “What did I learn today?”, prompting children to think of something new they learnt, especially when it wasn’t a day with formal education.

Five Minute Journal For Kids Inside

Is there a Five Minute Journal app?

While I’m a big advocate for having the journal sitting by your bedside and handwriting in your journal, there is a Five Minute Journal App. It offers all of the quotes, challenges and prompts that you’d find in the physical version. It has been designed for people who are not experienced in journaling

You can purchase the Five Minute Journal App on iOS or Android (US$4.99).

It’s handy if you travel a lot so you don’t have to carry a physical gratitude diary with you. Also with the Five Minute Journal App you can add a daily photo of a magical moment in your day, something the physical journal can’t do.

If you’re planning to use the Five Minute Journal App, I highly recommend turning on night mode on your device before bedtime so you don’t interrupt your sleep!

Five Minute Journal App Screenshot

Where to buy the 5 Minute Journal?

You can buy the Five Minute Journal or the Five Minute Journal for Kids from the Intelligent Change website or on Amazon. Over 700,000 journals have been sold worldwide!

You can also buy the Five Minute Journal and the Five Minute Journal for Kids as a discounted bundle.

Five Minute Journal Kids Journal Bundle

What is the Productivity Planner?

Intelligent Change sells a third product, a planner journal called the Productivity Planner.

The Productivity Planner takes advantage of the Pomodoro Technique (where you work for short sprints of 25 minutes then take a short 5-minute break). It empowers you to focus your mental energy on the most meaningful tasks ahead. Productivity planning also helps to reduce overwhelm and a to-do list that feels neverending!

Productivity Planner Inside

Using a physical planner also helps you to track your progress over time. We often overestimate how much we can get done in a day but underestimate how much we can achieve in a year!

Productivity Planner Inside With Notes

You can also buy the Five Minute Journal and the Productivity Planner as a discounted bundle too.

Five Minute Journal Productivity Planner Bundle

Because I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro method and a productivity nerd, I buy the trio bundle. That includes the Five Minute Journal, the Five Minute Journal for Kids and the Productivity Planner.

Five Minute Journal Trio Bundle

For more gratitude, positivity and productivity tips check out the Intelligent Change blog and weekly emails.

Help your kids develop a growth mindset with the Big Life Journal

Best Growth Mindset books for kids

Mindfulness & Meditation apps for Kids

Download my free printable Daily Visual Schedule for Kids

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This post contains affiliate links. If you book using the links there is no extra cost to you and I earn a small commission that helps me to provide free, valuable and useful information for you! Thanks Joyce

About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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