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  • Writer's pictureSharanya Naidoo

The Happiness Jar

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

December 8th 2018

When you are grateful for what you have, you attract more to be grateful for. This little life hack (The Happiness Jar) keeps my husband and I grateful right throughout the year even when times are tough.

Today we’re talking about gratitude, and with New Year’s coming slowly… it’s still December but New Year’s Eve will be upon us in no time… I was having a chat to my husband last night and we were trying to figure out what are we going to do for New Year’s this year. And even though we’re only in our early mid-thirties we still feel like we’re eighty-year olds inside. We’re not the party-hard people. We don’t really like being out late. We’re a bit homely that way. We would much prefer like a dinner party with friends over, just something really casual, something really fun, or what we have done for the last couple of years is we’ll just go out for dinner, just the two of us on New Year’s Eve.

We have this ritual now which will be in Year Three of this ritual. The first year I was the only participant, the second year he joined me, and this year again the two of us are going to do it together. And what am I talking about? I’m talking about our happiness jar.

So what we do on New Year’s Eve… This is mine, he’s got his own one, and randomly throughout the week or even throughout the month, it’s not a daily thing, we’re not so consistent daily, but if something’s happened in the week that’s really lovely, that’s really memorable and sweet, we write it down on a piece of paper and we put the date on it and then we fold it up and we throw it in our happiness jar.

This idea’s floating around the interwebs. I first saw it on… I think it was Facebook with Elizabeth Gilbert’s post about happiness jars. And so like I said the first year I was the only one that did it. I tried to convince him for the six months before New Year’s Eve to join me in it because I really saw the value in it and I thought it was a great idea but he was not interested at all.

When New Year’s Eve came I brought my jar along to dinner and as I was reading the memories that happened over the previous year and it was random, it wasn’t kind of… it wasn’t sequential. It was random. It was beautiful to remember all the little things that had happened over the year that we would have forgotten, honestly would’ve just forgotten. It would’ve been somewhere in the back of our mind in our memory bank, right at the back, because often you only remember the big events, the big things that have happened. So the beauty of this is to actively do something so that at the end of the year you remember the little things as well.

We’ve got a jar each like I said. Mine has three words on it and it’s the three words that I wanted to try and instil in myself this year. It’s three qualities I guess that I wanted to awaken within me, and my three words were rhythm, emboldened, and delight. So anytime I felt these three things I would write something down on a piece of paper and pop it in, but also other random things. Like we bought a house last week as you all know. So I still have to write that down on a piece of paper and throw it in here. The holidays we went on, the nice quiet dinners we had with friends, we went on a few local walks, just around our house that were just really lovely, the sunset was beautiful and perfect that day and I wrote it down on a piece of paper and it’s somewhere in here.

Those kind of small things and those moments that you have that are really special with your loved ones often kind of just get glossed over at the end of the year. It’s too almost simple and seemingly inconsequential to remember at the end of the year but it’s not. It ends up being the main thing, the main deal at the end of the year to remember these things that have happened and that’s what makes a really full life.

Gratitude is the key to fullness in our life. And we talk about living three cups full, when we’re grateful for the love that we have in our life our cup remains full, when we are grateful for the sense of belonging that we have in our lives and all the people that we belong to. It’s so beautiful. That keeps our acceptance cup full. And when we think about all the respect that we’ve received over the year from people just saying well done and people encouraging you to pursue your dreams and to follow the goals that you’ve set for yourself, just those little dollops of respect that come your way, to accept them and put it into your cup and keep full is what makes us feel full at the end of the year and not empty.

It’s easy in this world I think where there’s a lot of things pulling us apart and grinding down our self-esteem and our self-worth. Slowly slowly I think the ship is turning and we’re moving more towards a self-appreciating world where our minds are learning to be a bit more self-appreciating and then it will reflect back in the outer world. But until then we just have to keep on keeping on in our own individual lives, and this is one beautiful method and it’s so simple and it’s so organic and simple. There’s nothing too disciplinarian about it or regimented about it to make you feel guilty in any way. It’s just whatever comes to mind whenever it does. There’s been like two or three months when I haven’t written anything down because I’ve just forgotten, and I go through my diary and I fill in the gaps and plug it all in and chuck it in this jar.

This is what I’ll be doing on New Year’s Eve. It is an attitude. Gratitude is an attitude I feel. It is not something that is based on stuff on the outside. It’s not based on what happens on the outside. So it’s not a reaction. It’s not a reaction to what’s around you. It is an internal attitude. So whatever is happening on the outside and whatever is happening in your life your attitude of gratitude is going to see the beauty in each event, in each situation, to see the lesson that’s there to learn if it’s something difficult and challenging, to see the growth that will be sparked within you if you’re dealing with someone that’s really negative and difficult and challenging.

Instead of being so ungrateful that they’re in your life you kind of can take what they’re teaching you with an attitude of gratitude because something about that interaction is helping you grow into the person that you want to be. So they are helping you become who you truly want to be. It could just be something more compassionate or more patient or more empathetic, whatever the qualities are that you’re trying to instil within yourself, things that present those challenges. There is always a lesson inside it. There’s always something to take away from and grow from with everything that you would often rather not have to deal with.

This thing called gratitude, it is what I feel an attitude and it can be cultivated and nurtured. It’s not always the easiest default position, and when you’re not in a state of gratitude you’ll know it because you’ll be complaining. You’ll be complaining and complaining and complaining and drowning in all these thoughts that make you resist what’s in front of you. But gratitude will bring you back to yourself. And it could just simply be gosh, I’m so grateful that I don’t think like that person thinks anymore because I know the pain that that caused me, I know the pain it caused me to be so judgemental to other people. So I’m grateful that I’m not there anymore.

There’s something to take away from every little interaction you have and there’s not enough pieces of paper in the world to fill up a year of everything you’re grateful for, but the key players, the key things have a place in this jar. And it’s a lovely activity or process that you can do throughout the year so that your radar is always set on well what’s going to go in the jar, what am I going to write on that piece of paper at the end of the day, or when you get to the end of the week and you’ve skipped over adding something into the jar, reflect and go well what happened this week that was really great that is out of the ordinary that doesn’t happen every day, that doesn’t happen every week that I feel grateful for, and you get out your pen and you write it down on a piece of paper, put a date on it and then throw it in there.

And if you’ve got people at the end of the year that you can sit and be with and share those memories with, it’s even more beautiful to be able to have someone read out their memories and you can witness their life in that way.

I wanted to share this with you because we are getting to the end of the year. I don’t know if you can see that properly. And I wanted to share what my plans are going to be for New Year’s Eve. There might be some kind of a party. There might be some kind of a dinner thing that we’ll go to but we’ll always make time to do this with each other. It’s a wonderful way to end the year. Look what a great year we’ve had. There’s been some ups and downs but there’s been a lot of great things that we’re grateful for.

It helps you also connect to your partner in a special way as well because what they write down is very interesting to hear at the end of the year. You learn more about your partner that you’ve been… I’ve been with my husband for ten years and when he did it last year I was like wow, yeah, that is really special to you, that is really important, that’s something that I’ll encourage him to keep doing the year after because I realise that it was special enough to put in the jar.

For him it was golf. He had so many little pieces of paper with played a great game of golf, played with this friend and that friend and there was quite a few things about golf in the jar. And so you when it comes time to play golf and he’s like I don’t think I can be bothered going out today, it’s like no no, go, you’ll love it at the end of the day, you’ll really appreciate it. So it kind of helps. It helps you encourage your partner because you know what they truly value on a day to day basis.

That’s it for today. Let me know if you’ve got your own gratitude or happiness jar and let me know when you started doing it. We’ve only been doing it for three years and it’s fantastic and I envision that we’ll continue doing it each year. I think it’s a beautiful practice. And let me know if it’s something that you’re going to start doing as well.



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