To get your slice of happy pie, be grateful every day

IT started with feminism, but soon we were talking potatoes. We thought we were pretty advanced, our Year 11 literature class.

Studying Tess of the d'Urbervilles, our teacher - a fancy farmer's wife who'd been dragged out bush from the bright lights of Ballarat - grabbed the opportunity to preach.

While Tess and her counterparts were downtrodden victims of the patriarchy, this liberated lady had embraced freedom, she explained.

"I used to watch my mum at dinner time, and when she was giving out the potatoes, she'd always give herself the smallest one."

She paused, for our outrage to build.

"But why? Why should she have less than everyone else?!"

Another pause, more dramatic.

"I never give myself the smallest potato."

Fair to say, the feminist fire she hoped to inspire stayed unkindled by the story. Our Gen-Y minds had no inkling of what she was talking about.

And to be honest, I still can't relate.

But reading about Brisbane girl Hailey Bartholomew, I was reminded of the attempted morality tale. Hailey's one is much better.

Battling depression, the photographer and filmmaker decided to take a photo every day for a year, of something she was grateful for.

Rainy days and gumboots, first flowers of spring, a surprise visitor - she put the Polaroid images on her website, with a little note about why it inspired her appreciation.

"Previously I was concentrating on the negative, but doing this made me consciously look for the positive," Hailey explains on the website,

"That process literally changed the way my brain was working, shifting it from always focusing on the bad to the good."

And one of the good things she noticed? Her husband always gave her the best slice of a pie.

The lesson? It could be don't serve up dinner, or you'll do the self-sacrificing.

But a happier version is that people actually like to give.

And whether it's potatoes or pie, noticing you're grateful can make for a good dose of happiness too.