Appreciative journaling includes powerful positive psychology techniques, helping you notice the good things in life. It’s proven to increase personal wellbeing and resilience through small, incremental increases in mindfulness, and noticing – and savouring – the positive things that happen around you. It’s been used by groups as diverse as the NHS, homeless hostels, people living with dementia and the US army, as well as people who want to change their mindset to the world around them.
The happiness advantage
The happiness advantage says that if we can be happy in the moment (rather than deferring it until we are ‘successful’) then the brain experiences a happiness advantage: it performs better – intelligence rises, creativity and energy rises. The brain is 31% more effective – 37% better at sales; doctors are 19% better at correct diagnoses. There’s a great TED talk you can watch by Shawn Achor.
When you’re starting off in appreciative journaling we’d suggest you try and capture something every day, but that’s more to get you into the routine – it doesn’t have to be that prescriptive as you get more accustomed to looking at the world in that way, but is designed to help you remember to appreciate the good things in life. It might be something as simple as seeing a spring flower bloom on the way to work, a compliment from a friend, a favourite song on the radio, or a more significant milestone in your family or career. The effect is cumulative, and overwhelmingly positive.
We’ve long advocated the positives of appreciative journaling, but here are a few choice words from our friend and colleague Lesley Moore, on their shared experience of her husband and business partner Nick’s journaling: ‘Nick’s appreciative journaling has made a significant and lovely difference to my life,‘ she says. ‘As increasing numbers of joyful moments are noticed, savoured, grown and recorded, so have tempers levelled and edges softened. There’s less heat, more perspective and more ease. The jokes aren’t any funnier, but somehow they are.’
Our appreciative journals include tips on what to notice – or questions to ask yourself if you’re struggling to see the good things. They also includes exercises to help you develop those observations as you get more used to journaling. Our journaling workshops include a section on creative journaling, and using magazines, newspapers and photos to create a physical vision of your hopes, dreams and aspirations. Food for Thought is our free-flowing appreciative journal, well suited to those who know a bit about AI and want to develop their own personal practice.
Journaling for young people
Click here to download our worksheet on What is appreciative journaling?