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Keep A Gratitude Journal And Get Happy

Despite the advice that comes to us from every direction these days to keep a positive attitude, actually doing that all the time or even most of the time is far more easily said than done.

Let's face it: life is stressful, and no matter how determined you are in the morning to make the very best of everything, by evening you often feel battered and defeated. Or the optimistic plans you conceived last night melt like candle wax under glaring morning light. Whatever your world, it's likely you have a tough time of it if you wish to maintain a cheerful and positive outlook.

There is, however, a cost-free way to boost your optimism and re-vision your approach to all you encounter. Improving your outlook on the plus side is only the beginning of this miraculous practice.

Yes, folks, all it takes is your journal. It can be the dog-eared moleskin you've had for ages or a new notebook dedicated to this purpose. You can discover the wonders of journaling for the first time when you commence this activity; or you can incorporate the new focus into your regular journaling activities.

So here's the routine:

1. Reflect on everything and everyone that made you happy in the last 24 hours. Think about the people who supported you, activities that made you smile, small gestures that made your day.

2. Write down at least five to 10 items you are grateful for as they come to mind. Nothing is too little to include in your list. Draw or paste pictures in your journal to accompany your writing if you feel graphically inspired.

The important thing is to make that list.

- The way the corner of your friend Jason's mouth curled upwards in the afternoon sun;

- The green hopefulness of your little windowsill garden;

- Singing along with the radio on the way to work;

- Your colleague's joke, shared with the team;

- Dinner take-out from a Thai restaurant;

- An email with good news about your friend's health;

- Anything you can describe that your mind/heart translates as goodness in your life.

It might be hard to get started after a particularly tough day, but once you begin writing in your gratitude journal, you may find it's hard to stop!

3. After a time, you can go on to journaling about a host of other things, but it's not a bad idea to regularly include consideration of what you might be grateful for in the time since you last wrote a journal update.