“Atlas of the Heart”-inspired Feelings Database

I use Notion every day for work, but one of the ways I interact with Notion on a daily basis on a personal level is through my daily “journal” or tracker.

What I track has shifted a lot over time. I started off with many properties and lots of granularity in my Journal database and have gradually eliminated or edited things as I’ve learned what works for and serves me.

This is what I am currently tracking for 2023:

An example journal entry.
Capturing Energy, Practices, and Feelings
  • Energy (select property): a rating on a scale of 1-5 of how energetic I felt that day.
  • Practices (relation property): this connects to my Practices database and I relate to any practices I completed that day.

Side note: for a few years I tracked very specific practices, eg. walk, hike, stretch, meditate, connect w/ loved ones, read, donate, tend to our home, etc. However, because I can definitely be a “check the box” kind of person, I found that what ended up happening was I often would try to complete as many of the practices as I could in a day so that when I did my daily “journal” tracking at the end of the day, I could check more of them off.

This wasn’t necessarily leading to the well-being I was intending to inspire by using this database.  I also didn’t really do anything with that data at the end of the year anyway—do I really care how many days I walked in a year?  No. It’s not super relevant.

What is relevant is how I feel. And so this year, I have taken my practices “a level up”.  Rather than checking off specific activities each day and being granular about it, I just want to know if I’ve embodied the ways I want to be in the world—the ways that I know support how I want to feel.

Be active, Be creative, Be curious
My practices for 2023

  • Feelings (relation property): I relate 3 feelings to my daily journal entry, based on how I felt that day.
  • Moments (text property): any moments that stood out to me that day. This used to be called “gratitude” but I changed it up because I found that limited me to writing about good or great things, and there were other moments I still wanted to document from a day even if they were moments of challenge or struggle.
  • Image block in the body of the entry: not shown in the screen capture above, but one of my favorite features of my daily log. I add one photo from my day and love to review all the images I’ve captured at the end of the month or quarter.

What I observed after a few years of tracking my feelings is that, left to my own devices, I will stick to a very limited feelings vocabulary and often have a hard time coming up with accurate words to describe how I am feeling.

After reading Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart in 2022, I decided to use her feelings chart to inspire my 2023 feelings database (I recommend reading her book!).

The chart includes 87 emotions which have been grouped by “Places we go…”.

I now have a linked view of my feelings database in the body of my daily journal, with the feelings grouped by those “Places we go”. I am finding the grouping so helpful because it gives me more context to identify what I’ve been feeling that day:

Feelings database grouped by "places we go when..".

At the end of the day when I’m filling out my daily log I glance through the “Places we go…” groups and I can recognize things like, “ahh, yes, today was a day that things did not go as planned”. I then open up that group and look at the specific feelings within it to see which, if any, resonate with me:

The emotions related to "Places we go when.. things don't go as planned."

I’ve been using this for a few weeks and feel like it’s helping me capture a much more accurate representation of how I am feeling.

If you want to try implementing this for yourself, you can grab my Atlas of the Heart inspired feelings database here.

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