I was thinking about the heaviness of my last post about the economy and wanted to balance that rather negative post with a technique that not only helps me smile when I play, but helps my life in general. That technique is having gratitude. To foster this feeling of gratitude, I force myself to fill out three pages in a designated Gratitude Journal of everything I am grateful for. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes to fill three pages. I keep filling them with dozens of little gratitude golden amulets. The journal helps me to remember the great things in my life, many things I oftentimes take for granted. Writing this way inspires positive energy, joy and healthy thinking. I highly recommend this practice, particularly when the blues hit. Additionally reading back over the entire journal’s past entries is soul & mind opening. Like drum master percussionist Babatunde Olatunji and many others say from Africa, practice smiling when you play. Playing music and writing in the Gratitude Journal help me spontaneously become those smiles. Well, add Yoga too, ok then you have to add friends, humor, creativity outside of music, becoming silent for long stretches of time without media buzzing around me and lastly my ride cymbal. The gratitude journal is the most surprising variation out of everything I’ve tried to get smiles sprouting from within. Gratitude is my attitude without platitudes, dude!