The HAPPE Method of Journaling

Lara Zielin, an author and life coach, has created a method of journaling she calls “Author Your Life,” where people think about themselves as characters in a story of their making. Author Your Life is a way to write about the life you want to have as if it’s already occurring.

Zielin has developed five rules for how you can do this. She refers to it as the HAPPE method.

  • H is for Handwriting, which Zielin believes is a way to connect a motor skill to a thought, making it more likely to make it stick.
  • A is for As if. Write as if what we want to have happen is happening now. So if you wish you were retired, you could write: “Jimmy sleeps until 10 in the morning. Then he drives to Dunkin Donuts and gets a coffee and a bagel. Jimmy then comes home and watches TV the rest of the day.”
  • P is for Person. Or more precisely, third person. Writing in the the third person is a way of giving us a bit of perspective and distance. Instead of saying: “I will take a two-hour nap every day”, write: “Jimmy will take a two hour nap every day.”
  • P is for Positive. This is a reminder to keep your thoughts positive. So rather tan writing “Eating cookies all day will make me fat”, write “Eating cookies all day will make Jimmy happy.”
  • E is for Emotions. Zielin suggests that after we’re done writing, one of the best things we can do is close our notebook and begin to embody the emotions that we just wrote about. Our minds are so powerful that we can begin to experience what we’ve written, whatever it is. So even if I don’t get to retire immediately, I get to experience what it is like through my writing.

So you can guess what my first entry would look like in such a journal:

Jimmy sleeps until 10 in the morning. Then he drives to Dunkin Donuts and gets a coffee and a bagel. Jimmy then comes home and turns on the TV. After he finishes the bagel, Jimmy soon starts in on some oatmeal raisin cookies. Eating the cookies puts Jimmy in his happy place, and before he knows it, he has fallen asleep for the next two hours. Jimmy wakes up and sees cookie crumbs all over himself, and that puts a big smile on his face. He then returns to watching his soap operas.

I guess I consider my daily posting to WordPress as a type of journaling, although it certainly takes much longer than 10 minutes per day. It’s also not private like a diary. And while I do, on occasion, share my hopes and fears and opinions, I’m not very good about sharing my feelings.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve never considered journaling.

Jimmy would not be very good at it…


44 thoughts on “The HAPPE Method of Journaling

  1. While watching his soap operas, Jimmy noticed something move in the corner of his eye. Sweat gathered on his brow as he wondered what it was. He was sure that he was alone…


    Yes, I can see this as an interesting way of writing a journal!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Writing about one’s self in third person just sounds weird. I’ve heard people being interviewed, and then they answer questions in third person. Bizarre.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is a unique way to include visualization and positive self-talk into your mind set. But I am with Pete on this one, I would never be able to write in the third person and take myself seriously. I do, however, see cookies playing an integral role in any happy future!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I spend long enough on blogging and trying to rewrite my ‘practice’ novel without journalling too. How about all this reading I’m supposed to be doing if I want to be a successful writer?
    And then there’s the gardening…
    Cathy tackles the weeding and the garden looks immaculate. This time they don’t grow back.
    It sounds rather like wishful thinking to me (and about as useful). But it sure beats doing the gardening…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Cathy. I just don’t have the time to squeeze in journaling on top of the other commitments I have made to myself.

      Fortunately, Jimmy is not interested in gardening like Cathy is. Jimmy hopes your weeds go away, and stay away…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Margaret Thatcher often used to refer to herself in the third person, as did your recent ex-president. If those don’t give you enough examples of why it’s a bad idea, I fear that all is lost for you. Jimmy will just have to keep checking his stats and hope that reality is so busy that he doesn’t have time to write it down in a diary…


    1. Jimmy does not want to be like those two people. Jimmy should reconsider this third person thing… Jimmy should probably just go back to checking his stats and not worry about a diary…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Jim, but you do journal with your blog! and you do keep it positive.

    Claiming “eating cookies all day will make Jimmy happy,” in either first or 3rd person is obviously a lie!

    And lying to ourselves is the OPPOSITE of a fundamental truth of sound mental health, as M. Scott put it in Road Less Travelled: Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths…because when we truly see this truth, we transcend it.
    “Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?
    “Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing.”

    I admire the discipline you show in posting your blog so often.

    I have reams of journal entries but I am far happier the (rare) days I actually organize those thoughts into a blog post for the world to see.

    I think you are doing a better form of HAPPY “journaling” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for you kind words. Susan, I always appreciate the insights you offer. Thanks for the quote from Road Less Traveled, an inspirational book for sure. And hopefully I’ll see some of your journal entries in the form of a blog soon. I hope all is well…


  7. Today, Jimmy checked his stats only 75 times. Jimmy’s goal for tomorrow is to keep it under 50. That aside, it’s an interesting concept if you take it beyond the naps and the bagel. It seems like a great way to let your imagination free to a place where you are the star; charting an imaginary road map of your desires.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jimmy does think the HAPPE approach is a helpful way to give people some structure for their journal writing.

      And Jimmy has to first get his stat viewing below 100… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree that there is something special about handwriting and the thought process but it is hard to put my finger on. Ha ha! Handwriting helps my thought process initially. The drawback is not being able to read my own writing later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. you echo my thoughts perfectly. I do think there is something different about typing and handwriting, but at this point, 99% of my writing is done via keyboard, and as a result, my handwriting skills have deteriorated…


  9. You and I want similar things in life although I prefer chocolate chip cookies over oatmeal and raisin… Does it count if you already do this but instead of writing things down you just think of it in your head and daydream instead of finishing your research papers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. if only you could daydream about your research paper, and it would finish itself…

      I could go with chocolate chip cookies as well. Maybe a variety pack is the best option…

      Liked by 1 person

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