How to Boost Your Positivity Practically Overnight

When UJ Ramdas and Alex Ikonn teamed up to create The Five-Minute Journal, it wasn't with the idea that it was the most groundbreaking product to ever hit the market.

Yet, simple as it is, it's managed to change lives, and infiltrate seemingly all of our fave places to shop, from Urban Outfitters to Paper Source and more.

And it makes sense. Journaling is known to be of great service to many people, but the process can be timely and draining. UJ's journaling process used to take 15-30 minutes per day. But once Alex suggested simplifying the routine, a game-changer (aka The Five Minute Journal) was born!

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Sweety High had the pleasure of chatting with the journal's two founders, who gave us the lowdown on their journey to the product's success, and what they've learned along the way (and can teach you, too) about journaling and practicing gratitude.

If you're eager to get your hands on a journal, it will be one of the many amazing wellness products packed into the gift bag at Bloom Summit, this Sat., at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. In the meantime, check out our interview with UJ and Alex below!

Sweety High: How did you two meet and how did the Five-Minute Journal idea come to be?

UJ Ramdas & Alex Ikonn: We met because we shared mutual friends with a love of personal development. After years of reading many personal growth books, attending seminars all around the world, and implementing mindfulness practices, we have figured out that in order to have drastic positive changes in our lives, we need to create and maintain daily positive habits.

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SH: The Five-Minute Journal seems like a relatively simple concept, yet you two are the first to bring it to life. Were you surprised it hadn't been done before?

UJR & AI: Other gratitude journals existed on the market, but they were either ugly, complicated, or overly simplistic. Gratitude journaling is a concept that's been around for a decent time now, most notably done by Oprah. With the rise of positive psychology, more and more research came out in support of gratitude journaling leading to an overall higher quality of life. But no one seemed to crack the code of creating a daily journal to our liking.

We wanted something that was more substantial than just writing one thing we were grateful for each day but simple and quick enough that we would actually stick with it.

Teen girl journaling in the grass


SH: What were the biggest challenges in getting the product to see the light of day?

UJR & AI: The Five Minute Journal began as a Kickstarter campaign, but unfortunately, funding fell flat.


SH: What was the easiest part of getting the product to see the light of day?

UJR & AI: After the failure of the Kickstarter campaign, we attended an event shortly thereafter called Mastermind Talks, which is an invite-only event of about 120 people. One of the people in attendance was Tim Ferriss. UJ presented The Five Minute Journal concept during Mastermind Talks.

While initially skeptical, Tim reached out a few months later and asked if The Five Minute Journal could be included in his quarterly box, a curated subscription box of someone's favorite things. He ordered 3,000 journals. Tim, to this day, continues to be a persistent advocate, thus dramatically increasing the journal's reach. We cannot thank him enough!


SH: The Five-Minute Journal is for the person who…

UJR & AI: For a future-focused person who has trouble enjoying the present moment. For someone constantly worrying, facing anxiety and criticizing themselves. For someone who wants a simple way to improve their mental well-being. For someone who tried to keep a journal, but has failed to consistently stick with it.

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SH: The Five-Minute Journal is not for the person who…

UJR & AI: Wants a very in-depth journaling experience. Who wants a quick fix to make them happier. The Five Minute Journal gives you a very immediate boost after a week, but the longer term effects, similar to mediation, happen over the course of months.


SH: From the time you two conceptualized the idea, how long did it take to get your product on the market?

UJR & AI: About six months between development, design and manufacturing. We were very fortunate that the first prototype turned out almost exactly like we wanted.


SH: What are the biggest changes journalers feel after a few weeks of completing The Five Minute Journal?

UJR & AI: The biggest change is counterbalancing the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. So many of our customers are ambitious people always looking to the next thing: entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes, freelancers, side hustlers. The Five Minute Journal helps them slow down and enjoy all they've accomplished, and focus on the good things in their lives, not just the problems.

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SH: What's the most complimentary piece of feedback you've received from someone who uses the journal?

UJR & AI: While it was clearly not the only thing, one customer wrote into us that during their cancer treatment, they used The Five Minute Journal to be a light during a dark time. With a very bleak outlook, they said it helped them with a continual focus on the good, and to be grateful for all life threw at them. We're happy to report that they went into remission!


SH: What business ventures are next for you two?

UJR & AI: Definitely more work in the personal development space.


SH: Anything else you want to add about journaling in general or The Five-Minute Journal, specifically?

UJR & AI: With the rise of The Five Minute Journal, we've seen people poke fun at gratitude journaling as if it is the end-all-be-all to becoming happier. We definitely are not claiming this. It's simply just a tool to counterbalance our bias to focus on the negative when left to our own devices.

We are too quick to criticize or focus on the next thing without truly appreciating what we have and what's going right. Ideally, would we do that intuitively all the time? Of course, but that's not the reality for us—especially in the age of social media where we are constantly comparing. The journal helps keep us accountable by providing that little extra nudge first thing in the morning and the last thing at night to focus on the good.


Still on the fence about jotting down all your thoughts? HERE are 10 reasons why everyone should keep a journal.