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Happiness Expert Gretchen Rubin on How to Journal Mindfully

“Feeling connected to our past gives us a feeling of happiness.”

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It’s no surprise, we’re always searching for happiness. Whether that feeling comes in the form of celebrating a birthday, looking through old photos with friends or planning a trip to Disney World, we’re always looking for the little (and big) things. One way to find happiness, and maintain peace, is through journaling. Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, known for her works like The Happiness Project, shared her advice for journaling mindfully and her favorite part about her Happiness Project Journal Yearbook collaboration with Chatbooks! 

What are some habits that can help people consistently journal?

There isn't one “right” way to create a habit, so your habit of journal writing should suit you. So, when deciding when to write in a journal, ask yourself, “When do I feel my most energetic and creative? What time of my day tends to be the most predictable and uninterrupted? Do I like to write long or short?” 

Choose a time of day when you are uninterrupted and feel focused (for me, that’s first thing in the morning; for a friend, it’s midnight). It often helps to “pair” two activities, so that when one activity happens, the other happens, too: You write in your journal while you drink your first cup of coffee, or just before you get ready for bed. 

I know someone who travels often for work. When the plane is in the air, he works on his laptop, so he writes in his journal whenever he’s on a plane that’s sitting on the runway. He says it’s surprising how much he can write, and it also transforms a time of impatient waiting into a time of meaningful reflection. 

What questions can you ask yourself while looking at an old photo to really reflect and conjure feelings of happiness?

We often focus on the subject of the photo, and with photos of people, we focus on faces. Take a few minutes to examine everything pictured in the photograph — and let yourself be flooded with memories. Remember the furniture the way it used to be; the sweater that was your favorite; the backyard during a different season or from a different house. Feeling connected to our past gives us a feeling of happiness, and we can use photographs to help make our memories vivid. Looking at the food that was on your plate can help you recall those flavors now.

What’s your favorite reflective prompt in The Happiness Project Journal Yearbook collab and why?

I love the question “Seven random things that made me happy this year” for several reasons. It’s a flexible question; we can give serious answers, whimsical answers or a mix. It reminds us to think back over the course of the year and highlight the bright spots. And it reminds us to be grateful, and gratitude is such an important element of happiness.

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