I have seldom kept a diary. The only time I ever continued one every day was when I was in junior high school.

I felt embarrassed when I opened that diary during a recent visit to my family home. The text was all about my sense of inferiority to classmates and my painful crush on a girl.

I could hardly continue reading the diary, but the very act of keeping it may have provided a sense of relief at the time. It was a diary of negative things, so to speak.

Recently I learned there is an exact opposite approach. The “diary of positive things” appears in an essay by psychiatrist Naoko Miyaji.

The idea is to take a simple note of three positive things you came across earlier in the day. You are not supposed to ever write anything negative, no matter what disgusting things you experienced that day.

As Miyaji kept a habit of writing in her diary in that manner, she realized, in her own words, that “a lot of positive things were happening, only I was taking them for granted, and look, I was not getting a good enough taste of them.”

Miyaji said she also realized that she used to spend a lot of time and energy feeling aggrieved and brooding over things that did turn out as she wanted.

I followed Miyaji’s example in trying to recall what had come my way earlier today.

I spotted “mikan” oranges that were still green but growing bigger. I saw a beautifully illustrated volume in a bookstore. A little boy looked so earnest as he pressed the “open door” button for me in an elevator. Three, and counting.

If spring, when the academic and business years begin, is the season for starting out, autumn could perhaps be called the time for making a fresh start.

At the end of their summer holidays, students may find it excruciating to attend school again.

There are, certainly, things that hurt in life. There are, however, probably plenty of blessings, only you tend not to notice them.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 2

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.