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Years ago, I started the practice of simple, daily journaling. I’m not talking long, drawn-out journal entries (though I do find writing those very therapeutic), but short, quick thoughts each morning to help start the day off right. My daily practice has shifted and evolved over the years, and I recently found myself wanting a physical journal dedicated to this morning (and evening) routine. Nothing existed that had quite the format I wanted, so I decided to create my own. Several months (and many test copies) later, I am proud to announce…(drumroll, please):
The 3-Minute Morning Journal:
Intentions & Reflections for a Powerful Life
Truth be told, the 3-Minute Morning isn’t anything ground-breaking or revolutionary. It’s a combination of proven methods designed to improve your day-to-day life, and it’s simple. But don’t mistake “simple” for “ineffective.” I can attest, from personal experience, that making the 3-Minute Morning a daily practice can have far-reaching benefits.
Let’s break the journal down into its parts:
1. “My Life is Great Because…”
There is a wealth of research demonstrating the positive effects of gratitude. Studies show that taking time each day to specifically identify positive gifts, blessings, circumstances, etc. can significantly improve our overall happiness in life. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” can improve our physical health, deepen our sense of connection with others, make us more optimistic, and even increase the length and quality of our sleep.
This prompt is worded differently from the ever-popular gratitude journals, however, to take advantage of the power of positive thinking. It is all too easy to get caught in the trap of saying “I’ll be happy when…” and focusing on what we don’t have rather than what we do. Your life is already great. You already have a million reasons to be grateful. Reflecting on and responding to this prompt reinforces that truth on a daily basis, replacing thoughts of “I’ll be happy when…” with the more empowering “I am happy now.”
2. “I Will Move Closer To My Goals Today By…”
Most people try to do far more in a day than is possible. To-do lists run over with a seemingly endless stream of tasks, and even our best efforts fall short of truly getting “everything” done.
If you really scrutinized the items on your list, though, how many of them really need to get done? What one, two, or three items on there are going to bring you the most bang for your buck? And—most importantly—which one, two, or three items will actually take you closer to your major life goals?
I recommend keeping your work to-do list out of this morning reflection, unless your current job relates to or helps achieve your long-term goals. For most of us, our “must-do” list is driven by our day jobs, and by the time we sit down to focus on personal and/or longer-term objectives (e.g. starting a side hustle, spending more time with the kids, drafting a manuscript for a new book, etc.), we’re out of energy or have otherwise lost sight of what we really want.
This prompt is intended to refocus you on your longer-term goals and help identify specific actions you can take each day to achieve them.
If you don’t already have clear goals for the year (and beyond), I strongly recommend you take time this week to set them. I’ve written all about how doing so has transformed my life—if you haven’t read that already, check it out.
3. “Today I Will Brighten ___________’s Day by…”
The third prompt—my favorite—encourages you to look outward, think of people you interact with day-to-day, and make a plan to intentionally help, compliment, strengthen, or support at least one individual.
This is a powerful practice, as it’s been proven time and time again that acts of service generate a significant happiness boost in the giver. (And it goes without saying that they brighten the day of the recipient as well!)
For this prompt, think of a specific person, a specific way to brighten their day, and commit to take action:
Today I will brighten Steven ’s day by telling him how much I appreciate our friendship.
If you find yourself at a loss for a specific name, feel free to use a category or broader description, such as “a sibling,” “a coworker,” or even “a stranger.” If you take this approach, though, still think of a specific way you can help. For example, if you’re heading to dinner that evening, you might write:
Today I will brighten our server ’s day by tipping a few dollars extra.
4. “Today Was Great Because…”
The fourth and final prompt encourages you to reflect on the day and identify a few wins, accomplishments, or other positive events from the day. This practice closes out the day with simple-yet-satisfying mix of gratitude, fulfillment, and confidence.
“But what if today wasn’t great?” you ask. This prompt is worded the way it is for a reason, and it’s especially valuable on days you consider pretty rotten. The truth is, we all live amazing lives. If you have clean water to drink, a roof over your head, and family or friends to talk to, you have significantly more than most in this world. Even if you suffered a terrible tragedy, I guarantee there were positive events surrounding it. Perhaps you had friends reach out to help, perhaps the bad situation could have been even worse, and so forth. Give this prompt a few minutes of thought and you will always find reasons to be grateful.
All Together Now
I’ve found this morning (and evening) routine to be a fantastic way to start the day. May as well share it with the world. 🙂
The journal is available in five colors and can be purchased today from Amazon.com. If you decide to give the practice a shot, let me know what you think!