I started a bullet journal before I even knew that bullet journals were a thing.
I had been reading extensively about happiness, and the topic of gratitude kept coming up over and over. I already believed it was possible to “rewire” your brain for better thought patterns, but I had no idea how to go about it. I had failed quite miserably at meditation and yoga, so I decided to start a daily practice of writing down what I was grateful for.
But I didn’t stop there.
My struggles with depression had left me absolutely determined to figure out how to live. I knew other people were out there loving their lives. I wanted to leave depression behind once and for all. I wanted to be able to marvel at the wonders of the world. I wanted to be able to burst out into uncontrollable laughter. So I started to devise a plan, a last ditch effort to save my heart from depression.
I was reminded of this quote by the poet Tyler Kent White.
“I promise if you keep searching for everything beautiful in this world, eventually you will become it.”
I was hella motivated and willing to try anything, so each evening along with my gratitude list, I started writing down everything beautiful I saw throughout the day. I added humor to my task as well. I was writing the recipe for the experience of life I wanted.
It was pretty difficult at first. I found it hard to feel grateful for anything. I really had to stretch my mind to think of what might have been beautiful and find something funny that had happened that day.
Within a week it felt much easier. I knew I had to complete my project each evening, so on the drive to work I started to find myself scanning the treeline for deer, or examining how the morning light reflected off the ice on the roadside weeds. The morning drive was always the hardest time for me, and now I had given my brain another task.
As I searched for good fortune, beauty, and humor, I found them. My world hadn’t changed at all. I had the same job, the same boyfriend, the same home. I started looking for what I was hoping to find in life, and it started showing up all around me.
I found myself making a mental checklist throughout the day. Remember that funny commercial. Remember how the raindrops sparkled on the windshield. Remember that someone brought donuts to work today. That simple five minute task before bed changed the tone of the entire day. It changed what I thought about during those silent moments when I formerly would have been lamenting or stewing about relationships or money or my mental health or whatever else had me down.
I didn’t fix my depression, I forgot about it.
Keeping my daily lists of gratitude, beauty, and humor took up some of the room in my mind I’d been using for sadder affairs. There was less room for the bad stuff. And when something bad did pop up, whenever I had an off day, I could go back and read all the funny stuff that had happened over the last week. When the world felt ugly I could go back and read how beautiful the sunset was on May third. I would remember that some stranger had held open the door and smiled at me at the bank last week. I could remind myself that life actually was exactly what I had been wishing and striving for.
Give it a try
If you’re interested in trying out a bullet journal, there are a ton of great resources online. The first bullet journaler I stumbled upon was Boho Berry. She inspired me to keep experimenting until I figured out what worked. Search Instagram or Pinterest for ideas on organization, but don’t be intimidated by the need to make your bullet journal look beautiful. What’s important is how it works to cultivate happiness and create the vision of what a depression-free life looks like to you.
DISCLAIMER: This website does not render medical advice. I am not a mental health professional. I share the methods that have worked for me and I truly hope they work for you, but I cannot guarantee any specific results.