What’s gone right with your finances today?

All this time, I’ve been a financial pessimist. Who knew?

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Can positive thinking affect your finances? I’m launching a week-long experiment to find out.

I’ve always thought of personal finance as static and influenced only by how much money you make and how much you manage to hang on to. If you’re anything like me, you concentrate on the “debit” column of your bank statement much more than the “credit” column. Money coming in is good! Money going out … bad.

However, a book I’m reading has given me a different perspective. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being by Martin Seligman, has an interesting section on techniques for keeping depression at bay. One of these is keeping a diary of “what-went-well-today-and-why,” which Seligman claims can lower symptoms of depression for up to six months.

So what does this have to do with personal finance? Well, as I mentioned above, my focus is usually on where my money is going and how I can stem the bleeding. But reading Seligman’s book made me realize this might be a negative way to look at the issue. Sure, I could stand to spend less on my daily cookie run to Tim Horton’s, but it’s rare that I think about the good things that happened to my bank account today.

So here’s my first diary entry for this abbreviated week:

Dear Diary:

Positive events began happening very early today. Three a.m., to be exact. My dog woke me up to let me know he needed to go out. I was annoyed at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight it was far preferable to stepping in something on my way to the shower.

Despite being groggy and behind schedule, I managed to put together a delicious sandwich for breakfast before leaving for work. This saved me at least $4.00.

Had lunch at the salad bar, which — while subsidized — is still a pricier option than bringing my own. However, it was a healthy lunch and I ate it outside in the sun.

I feel better already.

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