Can a planner (that’s a diary, Filofax-style, for traditionalists – when did it become “planner”?) make you a happier person? That’s what the thing sitting in front of me seems to promise: it’s called The Happiness Planner and it’s filled with uplifting inspirational quotes and spaces for me to write vaguely self-indulgent things. “What I Hope For Tomorrow” and “Today I’m Excited About” and (my favourite) “Exercises”.
In short, it’s everything that makes me want to remove my own eyeballs with an ice-cream scoop.
Which got me thinking: why am I such a grumpy, cynical old moose? Why am I unable to embrace this millennial-led culture of positivity and self-championing? Perhaps it’s because I’m not strictly a millennial (born in 1980, I apparently miss the cut-off by two years) or perhaps it’s simply because I’m British. If the British are exemplary at anything, across the board, it’s being self-deprecating and pessimistic. (I’m generalising, obviously, lots of Brits are lovely people. Please do come and visit.)
Glancing over the daily journal pages in The Happiness Planner (which is a very attractive, spiral-bound hardback book weighing approximately forty-five thousand kilos, so not one for the handbag) gives me mental hives. There are little sections for you to fill in your to-do list for the day, your notes, your schedule, which is all fine, but then there’s space to write down your meals, and it is the tiniest space – I can only fit in “crumpets with jam followed by a boiled egg with soldiers and then cereal” before I run out of room. I can only surmise that people who are successfully happy via The Happiness Planner eat meals with very short names. “Fish”. “Salad”. Or very few meals. Either way, it’s probably good that there’s not enough space for my sixty “energy” snacks or my evening Mini Magnum. Some things are best wiped from the record.
I digress: my question, here, is: can a planner make me happier? Will writing down my “hopes for tomorrow” (getting more than three hours’ sleep/managing to go to the shops without applying lip gloss beneath my eyes instead of concealer) suddenly give me the life epiphany I’ve been waiting for? Can “reflecting” on my month really focus me in such a way that everything gains a new clarity and my pathway into the future appears before me, mirage-like?
I don’t know, but I’m willing to give it a try. Well, I say that, but I’ve fallen at the first hurdle actually, because on day one, under “today I’m excited about”, I’ve written “having a poo in peace”. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the makers of happiness at The Happiness Planner had in mind.
Have you got a happiness planner? Or do you simply write all of your hopes and fears in a lined notebook and then add twee annotations and the such if you find yourself with an extra forty minutes? You know, after the time it took to write out the day in the first place? (Schedule: 6am, up with second baby; 6.10am, begin filling out planner with aims and hopes for the day; 9.54am, feed breakfast to baby…)
Seriously: planners. Have they changed your life? Are you a better person? A more organised person? All scoffing aside, I am a very happy person already, but I could probably do with taking some time, every now and then, to reflect (kill me) and work out what my priorities are. Which is why I’m going to eat my own hat (and pride, and possibly sanity) and fill out The Happiness Planner for a while. See where it gets me. Wish me luck – I’ll be tooting my own over-confident horn in no time!