They Think You Should Be Grateful

Justin Noggle, who owns a power washing business in Marysville, Wash., was struggling with anxiety and depression last summer as he navigated some financial challenges with his company. A counselor suggested that Mr. Noggle, 37, try jotting down what he was grateful for each day. For a while, he did, using the notes app on his phone before bed, and it seemed to help. But the habit fizzled.

And so, in January, when a Facebook connection posted about a fill-in-the-blank gratitude notebook called “The Five Minute Journal,” Mr. Noggle immediately ordered it on Amazon. Seeing the physical notebook on his night stand is a reminder to take stock of what he is thankful for, he said, and to keep up other healthy routines, like exercise.

He has also embraced the journal’s prompt to record a daily affirmation. As Mr. Noggle seeks to drive more online traffic to his business, he said, “I’ve been putting ‘I am an influencer.’”

Mr. Noggle’s hunter-green volume is one of more than two million “Five Minute” journals sold since they were introduced in 2013. Actors like Emma Watson and Lily Collins have gushed about them, and the productivity-minded lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss has endorsed them. In certain corners of Instagram and TikTok, the journal is ubiquitous, often invoked in videos in which creators share their morning routines. (“I tried to channel my inner ‘that girl’ by challenging myself to write in it for five days in a row,” one TikToker said.)

“The Five Minute Journal” rode a wave of new emphasis on self-improvement and mindfulness, but it has helped create it, too. Now there are journals and workbooks for almost every conceivable mental health need or psychological philosophy: There’s “The Anti-Anxiety Notebook,” for adherents of cognitive behavioral therapy, or “The Shadow Work Journal,” for exploring emotional wounds. In December, Apple rolled out a dedicated journal app for the iPhone.

The hype has turned Alex and Mimi Ikonn, the London-based couple behind “The Five Minute Journal,” into unlikely publishing juggernauts. Under their brand Intelligent Change, they also sell a $30 deck of “mindful affirmation” cards, a $65 set of glass hourglasses, a $59 scented candle and a line of related products for children. Last summer, they hosted a three-day invitation-only summit in Ibiza where guests participated in mindfulness-themed workshops and mingled at beachfront banquets.

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