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Uncovering Your Joy: Using a Personal Journal to Discover a Life Filled with Happiness

Author Tristine Rainer wrote 'Happiness within a diary has less to do with the events you encounter in life than with the way you experience the process of living.' Because a diary mirrors how you perceive and deal with events, it can be used for developing the capacity to more fully experience joy.

Do you use your journal only for problem-solving, dark days, sorrowful feelings, or depressive thoughts? If so, why not start recording the happiness's as well. In fact, why not keep a special Joy Journal? That way, when you're having a bad day, just pull out your Joy Journal and re-experience the small happiness's.

Will keeping a journal actually bring you joy? No. However, many diarists have used their journals to alter their perceptions and in the process achieve a joy filled life. For example, Rainer cites one woman's first attempt at writing positive emotions, after years of negative entries:

As we walked to the fruit stand at twilight, I was overcome with ecstasy. Each house had a new charm and a story to tell. Colors seemed to have been applied with a brush. At the stand each orange demanded a caress... '

Do you see how an everyday walk to the store became a sensory delight? All because the writer began to alter her perception of the experience.

To begin your Joy Journal, we suggest a Rainer-inspired technique called a List of Joys. Use this technique to collect the joyful moments of your life. You can list things that make you happy on a routine basis (like watching a sunset), or extraordinary events that put a smile on your face. Your list might look something like this:

1. I really, really, really felt the grass between my toes and it made me feel like one living creature (me) was intimately communicating with another (the grass).

2. Listening to of Lorena McKinnett's Dante's Prayer filled my body with an intense rush of love. How could anyone write something so unearthly beautiful?

3. I rode my bicycle today and the feeling of the breeze rushing through my hair made me feel like I was 10 years old. What joy!

Help balance those serious, difficult days by re-reading your Joy Journal, and remembering that life IS filled with moments of pure happiness.

Copyright 2004 Patti Testerman

Journal Genie, The Website That Talks Back

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included and the resource box is left unchanged. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.

Patti Testerman is content manager at, the only online site that analyzes your writing and then gives you instant feedback. Discover self-defeating patterns, find better ways to communicate in relationships. Contact her at


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