How to start a Flourish Journal
I’m so happy that you want to start a Flourish Journal. Keeping a Flourish Journal is one of the best things you can do to increase your happiness; it has many benefits. It can help you bring more positivity into your daily life, develop an appreciation for the blessings you already have, make useful changes towards a better future, and grow compassion and kindness.
The idea for a Flourish Journal came to me when I was exploring the scientific literature on happiness. In particular, I was reading the book Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson, in which she outlines the benefits of working with 10 of the most common positive emotions in order to increase our daily happiness levels. She provided a few writing prompts with every chapter, which I started exploring for myself. In the process, I found that I had so many more ideas on how I could journal for happiness. I share many of these ideas in the online course Flourish: Experiments in Happiness. But to get you started, here are a few guidelines.
Your Flourish Journal can be a simple or as elaborate as you would like to make it. But, in truth, you really don’t need much to get started. A small journal and pen will do. Although I am sure that many of you might want to take your positive journaling practice further. So, I have put together a list for you of some of my favourite supplies. But it really doesn’t need to be complicated. Get started and you can collect supplies as you go.
What to record in your Flourish Journal
You get to decide what to record in your Flourish Journal. But here are a few suggestions based on the Happiness Triangle.
- One way of working with your Flourish Journal is to write on each of the 10 most common positive emotions: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, amusement, hope, pride, inspiration, awe, and love. You can simply choose the emotion that best resonates with you on any given day and use one of the writing exercises in the blog post: How to use positive emotions in your Flourish Journal.
- Another option is to write on meaning and purpose, exploring topics such as your principles, values, life purposes, goals, and meaning making activities. For more on this take a look at the blog post: How to write about meaning in your Flourish Journal.
- You might also like to write on the topics of wholehearted connection, kindness, service, and contribution by exploring different kinds of relationships in your life, from brief encounters with strangers to your most intimate exchanges.
You also get to decide how you want to record information in your Flourish Journal. If you love using words, then your journal may predominantly be filled with writing. You may want to incorporate spidergrams or mind maps or lists and bullet journal techniques. If colours elicit different emotions for you, then you may wish to invest in some water colour or acrylic paints or coloured pencils. If you love imagery, then add your own sketches or photos, or use images cut from old magazines.
The most important thing is to make creating your Flourish Journal fun.
Ideas for getting started
- Experiment with different prompts and materials to find out what works best for you.
- Write at the time of day that best suits you. This could be in short busts or longer uninterrupted periods.
- Create a sacred space for writing. This may be a simple as sitting in your favourite chair with your journal, or lighting a candle or incense.
- Write for yourself. Your Flourish Journal is for you alone and you do not need to show it to anyone else unless you want to. This way you can be completely honest, which makes your writing stronger, more interesting, and of more use to you.
- Write as honestly as you can. If you find the being completely honest is difficult, then write on loose pieces of paper that you promise to burn afterwards if you feel too uncomfortable with them. In Write Yourself Happy, Megan Hayes suggests that you begin writing using the following phrase: “If I were completely honest with myself, I would write that…”. Then write until you have written all you have to write about that topic.
- Keep censorship in check. To write honestly, we must silence our internal critics. This is a skill you can develop.
- Your journal is not only a highlights reel. Your Flourish Journal can be a way of gaining a different perspective on challenging experiences. You can write down your learnings and insights from these difficult times, which can then serve as guideposts for you during future tough times. This is also important for building hope and showing you that all things pass, even your darkest moments and negative feelings.
Most importantly, there is no right and wrong way to create your Flourish Journal – there is only your way.
If you would like more ideas on creating a Flourish Journal, then join our online course: Flourish: Experiments in Happiness.