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I've never been a big believer in New Year's resolutions. Over the years, I have resolved – with the best intention – to lose 10 pounds (in 2010); to learn Spanish (2009 and 2012); to ban all starch from my diet (2014, lasted three days).

This year, I'm not making a resolution. Instead, I'm going to work on being happy – or happier – every single day. Rather than get bogged down by petty grievances, inconveniences or disappointments that seem monumental at the time (and inconsequential in a matter of weeks), I'm going to make a commitment to seek out the positive, and not dwell on the negative.

Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of becoming this annoying beam of sunshine that puts everyone's teeth on edge. I want to be quietly hopeful. More grateful. Satisfied. Relaxed.

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Neil Pasricha, a Canadian author known for his The Book of Awesome series and a TED Talk speaker, says a healthier outlook is attainable, with a little work and discipline. "I've never made a New Year's resolution. They're ripe for failure. Only 8 per cent of people actually keep their New Year's resolutions [according to a 2013 University of Scranton study]. Normally in life, you don't want to sign up for something that has a 92-per-cent failure rate," he says.

Instead, Pasricha recommends a simple system for staying on a happier track. Take a cue card and write down three things: I am grateful for… I will focus on … I will let go of worrying about…

Examples might be, I'm grateful for the picture my child drew me. I will focus on leaving the house five minutes earlier in the morning. I will let go about worrying about finding a parking spot. Just for that day. (And if you skip one, he says don't sweat it).

"It's a two-minute morning exercise," Pasricha says. "It's about taking simple steps to prime yourself for productivity, accomplishing something, and feeling good about it. I also jot down five things I'm grateful for every day."

As your happy meter improves, gratitude also gets easier.

A special session at an Edmonton mall called 'Silent Santa' allows children with autism to meet Santa without the usual crush of holiday shoppers. One parent says the program is less 'taxing' for his daughter. The Canadian Press
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