This question is lifted from author Sahar Sabati's informative Ask an Author series, which ran from 2015-2016 and included responses and reflections from English-speaking authors from around the globe. Since I'm often asked these questions by readers, I have republished my answers here with Sahar's kind permission.
This is a timely and relevant question. How do we continue, how do we find hope, when the world can be such a brutal and unforgiving place? Last year, I was in a very dark place personally, and a friend suggested I keep a diary of three positive things every day for a week. Just a week. I was a writer; of course, I could do that. At first, though, it was hard. All I could think of was my big issue which was dark and oppressive and all-consuming. I felt I had no energy to spare for anything but the horrible thing. So, instead I decided to be mindful of the little things, things that often go unnoticed in passing: the smell shampoo in my children’s hair, warm towels straight from the dryer, a first cup of coffee in the morning, spring flowers on the side of the road, clean sheets, running into friends in the street, a little boy’s giggle overheard in the park, a postcard, a sleep-in on a Saturday morning. Little things. And little by little, I found these things, taken together, could make the bigger scary issue seem less daunting. Of course, some issues can’t be erased — that isn’t always realistic — but focussing on daily positives can certainly make life more bearable. In the end, I didn’t just record positives for a week. I’ve recording them on my Facebook page for 500 days now, and while the big issue is still there, it hasn’t beaten me yet. I’m reminded of this quote from Buddha: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”