A montage of four overlapping images depicting 2 girls and 2 guys sitting in a lounge chair at sunset and writing in their journals.

OK to GIGGLE: 6 Daily Self-Reflection Techniques to Fill Your Journal with Good Stuff

Keeping a personal journal is one of those things I am good at and then forget to do for years at a time. But still, it is a practice I have maintained off and on since I was at least in 4th or 5th grade. Over the years, it was just organic, but more recently (within the last decade or so), I started reading motivational material from other authors and speakers and frequently they would talk about how they wrote in their journals.

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What’s emerged is a practice that I cherry-picked from the synthesis of my habits and theirs. Handily enough, it can spell the word “GIGGLE.” Bonus!


I was on LinkedIn, and responded to this article. That’s the shortest version, but here I have a little more than 750 characters. Good thing, bad thing, guess we find out.

  • Get yourself a journal: You can use a journaling app, you can use an e-paper gadget, or you can go for the time-tested paper variety. I personally try to stay away from apps because there are other distractions on those devices. I tend to use either e-paper (I own a reMarkable), or a bound paper journal. Recently I have been leaning towards the paper one. I just connect differently when I am directly applying ink to paper.
  • Pick a time: I tend to do this at night to reflect on the day (before the fog of sleep sets in), but the goal is to do this every day, so try to pick a time and stick to it.
  • Answer these 6 questions each day:
    • Gratitude: Write down 2-3 things you are thankful for that day
    • Improvement: Write down 1 thing you think you could have done or handled better, and how you could go about handling it better next time it happens
    • Give: Write down 1 thing you did to “pay it forward” or help others
    • Goings-On: This section can get long, so I usually do it last (but then that would spell GIGLEG – not so catchy, right?), but this is the free form section where you can ramble about what happened during the day, how you are feeling and talk through any negative energy or negative self-talk you filtered out during the day. More on this later.
    • Learn: Write down 1 thing you learned.
    • Encourage: Write down 1 affirmation you can repeat the following day which will tee up the kind of energy you want in your life
  • Review: Keep your journal somewhere you can reach it, if possible. Whenever you are feeling down or frustrated, take some deep calming breaths, and review a few pages – specifically looking for things that remind you of all the positive stuff in your life. Also, whenever you do any goal setting or quarterly life review, etc, break out the journal and see if anything you’ve written since the last review needs to manifest as a goal, next step or commitment going forward.

A Few more thoughts on GIGGLEing

That’s the basic process, but there are a few more things I’d like to add about journaling:

  • Keep Tasks Separately: Just a suggestion, but I believe goal setting, task tracking, commitments, etc, should be kept elsewhere. Your journal is a safe place that resonates with separate energy. When you open it, it should be to contemplate, review, be thankful, and be mindful. For that reason, just like I don’t use an app to do journaling, the journal itself should not contain tasks or things that could distract or derail the energy of reflection.
  • More about the Goings-On section: As I mentioned here, this section is your safe place to bubble up positive and negative energy; however, if there is a lot of negative energy, a lot of fear, a lot of negative self talk – you might want to rethink the structure of your journal, because for it to serve as a “Rescue” device when you are feeling blue, you don’t want to have to sift through a bunch of self-doubt and negativity in order to find the good parts, right? For this reason, if you really need to dig into some intense and challenging corners of your psyche, consider using a journal with an additional section, or consider keeping a separate journal.

Dealing constructively with negative energy

There is a condition known as “toxic positivity.” This condition exists when people take negative aspects of their life and push them deep down in their mind and sit on them; rationalizing reasons to stay positive even when staying positive is blocking them from working through their negative energy. I could write a whole post on this topic alone. But bottom line, for this post, is that journaling is a solid first step in understanding, coping, and growing beyond the negative energy in our lives. In some cases we need to let go and forgive ourselves, in other cases we need to build healthier patterns, and in other cases we need to create better coping mechanisms. In all these cases, we should not deny our negative thoughts or negative energy. It’s important to give them a voice so they can be heard and acknowledged. Journaling is a great way to just that.

During the day, if you experience some negativity and don’t know how to deal with it or simply don’t have time to deal with it, you can tell yourself, “I gotta write about this later today” or set yourself a reminder in your phone to address it during your journal time. This way, just having the journal provides a mechanism to diffuse the negative thoughts in that moment and reassure yourself that you will listen to this side of yourself later.

When it comes time to journal, be respectful of yourself. Life is “full spectrum” and sometimes the way we think is also “full spectrum” – we think about good things, bad things, great things, and terrible things. We contemplate the best and worst possible outcomes of our choices, of the things going on in our lives, and for the people closest to us. Journaling is a great place to work through all that energy, and buys us psychological space to trace into, learn from, deal with and resolve those thoughts.

Happy Journaling

Whew, GIGGLEing can be serious! But, I hope you find this approach to journaling useful. May it serve you well, give you space to contemplate and ultimately showcase all the wonderful things going on in your life, empowering you to have a enjoyable journey worth celebrating every day.

Image Credits

A montage of four overlapping images depicting 2 girls and 2 guys sitting in a lounge chair at sunset and writing in their journals.

GIGGLE Journaling © 2024 by MindFuel Blog is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

While parts of the imagery in this post were derived from artificial intelligence, the text of this post was 100% human-generated.

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