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Count your successes and you’ll be able to change your outlook. Here’s a simple exercise I have been using in my life and my work for many years. Use this as an as an antidote to pessimism, an aid to personal development, a lifter of mood…or all three.

One of the problems with having a mind is that our thinking seems to have a mind of its own. Left to their own devices our thoughts run all over the place and do their own thing. This can leave us feeling less in control than we would like. It leads some people to believe that they cannot control their thoughts.

I won’t make promises for this astonishingly simple exercise. Like a lot of things it has to be experienced in a non-judgemental way. In other words just do it without any sense of expectation or critical examination. Do it for a week, say, and you’ll know if it has been helpful or not.

What to do

At a regular time each day (before sleep, on waking or at the lunchtime break for example), take a pen and paper and just three minutes to note as many of your successes that day (or the previous day if doing it early in the morning). When three minutes are up, or when you run out of things to write done, stop.

That’s it.

Count your successes regularly and you’ll begin to notice how many you actually have. Stick at until thinking this way becomes a habit. It won’t be easy at first. Some people find it almost impossible, so commited are they to their daily pessimism. I’m not saying that if you count your successes you’ll become an optimist, I’m one, it’s a matter of choice and I don’t always recommend it. I certainly never want to impose it.

A ‘success’ doesn’t mean saving someone’s life or completing a work of art, it can be anything, great or small, that worked for you or has benefitted others. Training your mind to do this and reap the benefits.

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