I began feeling pretty low mid-September. Therapy was helping, but I don’t go often enough–I could never go as often as I’d like, given how good I feel when I leave there. I needed something more, something I could carry with me throughout the hard days. I thought back to my early twenties when I was depressed, and I remembered this little leather journal I carried with me everywhere. I must have had a name for it, which I can’t recall now.

In it, I listed all the things that made me happy then (eventually the list exceeded 100). I listed things I want to do in my life. I scribbled song lyrics, quotes, and passages from books. I doodled with markers. That book went everywhere with me during those dark days. Opening it made me feel better, comforted. And, because I have always been a writer, it made me feel good to put pen to paper. Writing has always been my go-to tool for working through my emotions.

This past September, as the days grew shorter and colder and my mood changed with the weather, I decided to start another book. This time, I chose a cheap (but colorful) notebook from Target–less pressure to keep things pretty inside. I referred to it out loud one time as my “positivity notebook,” knowing my struggle to overcome my negativity and pessimism was causing, in part, my depressed mood. The name stuck, even though it isn’t very creative. But sometimes, simplicity is best.

I began writing in it within minutes of coming home from Target. Here is the first page:

Opening page of the positivity notebook

For a month, maybe slightly longer, I carried the notebook with me everywhere, and if I wasn’t feeling well enough to write things down, I’d simply flip through what I’d already written and find some solace there. There is nothing painful in the book, nothing that isn’t uplifting to me in some way. I haven’t written many of my own words inside, but rather I have relied primarily on things others have already shared. This is because I couldn’t trust myself to not write a page-long rant about whatever is bothering me, combined with my fear of someone reading my deepest thoughts.

This is part of a poem by my favorite poet, Frank O’Hara. I love it, so into the notebook it went!

By the end of October, I’d stopped carrying the notebook around with me because I was feeling much better, far less negative. I don’t know whether the positivity notebook should get all of the credit for that, but I feel that it helped me through a rough patch.

Lyrics to “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses, which I was listening to nonstop for a while there. Not exactly positive, but beautiful.

Now I toss the notebook in my purse when I start feeling heavy again or when I suspect the day might be hard for me. And sometimes I toss it in there just because it’s never a bad thing to carry a resource full of inspiring reminders about how life can be. Sometimes I just crave the positivity notebook.

This is part of an exercise I learned in therapy that I find soothing and helpful. I wrote it down as a reminder. Don’t you just love the word “unstuck?”

I think this weekend I will dig out that little leather journal from a decade ago and reflect on the things that made me happy back then.

Do you write down things that inspire or comfort you? Or do you use Pinterest (or something else) for this? I’d love to hear about your method!


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  1. You have beautiful handwriting. Has anyone ever told you that? I love this idea – I think I track my little moments of positivity with my camera, snapping pics of good stuff throughout the day.
    Susan recently posted..I’m Actually Enjoying Sending Christmas Cards This Year

  2. I turned my outpatient therapy book into something like this. I also bought a “Smash Book” that I’m going to start writing in for the new year. It’s going to be a better one…I hope

  3. I used to have a journal that I carried around, too. Now I have a be happy Pinterest board.
    raine recently posted..Sometimes I Feel Like A Terrible Mom

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  5. I just copied down your “experience your emotion” list into the notebook I carry. Thanks!
    Rebekah recently posted..H2O

  6. I absolutely love this!
    I am buying a notebook today.
    Rachee recently posted..The Art of Shaving | #spon | #ad

  7. This is a wonderful idea. I’m so glad you shared it!!
    frelle recently posted..Homecoming

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  9. I absolutely need to do this. Without a doubt.
    Jess recently posted..iStuff iLove.

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