Why a Happiness Jar Works Tirelessly (and Effortlessly) to Remind Us to Be Grateful

Last January I placed an empty square glass vase on a side table in our living room. Next to it I stacked a small pile of colorful note cards and a pen. Then, after taking a deep breath and hoping not to sound too corny, I announced to my husband and daughter, “This is our happiness jar.”

Photo of our Happiness Jar, Containing our Gratitude

“Our what?” my daughter asked, head cocked.

“Our happiness jar,” I repeated as if everybody had one.

My husband and daughter looked at each other with raised eyebrows and said, “OoooKaaay,” as if trying to appease a mentally unstable person.

I laughed at their response, but continued with resolve, “Any time something good happens–something that makes us happy or proud or grateful, I want us to write it down and put it in this jar. Then at the end of the year we can look back and be reminded of how lucky we are. I thought it would be a fun tradition to read all our notes on New Year’s Eve and remember all the great things we’ve experienced.”

With that, I sauntered out of the room, sensing I would be the only one writing down memories for our happiness jar.

Much to my surprise, when I returned later that evening, I discovered two notes already placed in the jar. Happiness instantly washed over me knowing my peeps already felt grateful enough to write something down to put in it.

As you can see, after more than ten months, our happiness is beginning to runneth over. Most of the things I’ve written have not been life-changing events, but rather small moments of sweetness found in an average day. A personal record in a 5K race, receiving a hand-written letter in the mail from a friend, seeing Olivia dance on stage, Jeffrey completing another part of his art project. Friends have even added their notes to our happiness jar, which makes it all the more special.

I share this with you during this month of Thanksgiving, not to get all “Oprah” on you, but in hopes of inspiring you to revel in all of life’s good moments, big and small, and to celebrate gratitude.

God knows we’re inundated with enough bad news every day; it’s important to be reminded that the good far outweighs the bad. A happiness jar does just that, capturing glimmers of everything that is right in your life, making you feel grateful rather than worn down by anger and cynicism.

It’s funny, I don’t even have to read what’s inside our jar to get an instant boost. Just glancing at all the colorful notes makes me feel like I’ve taken a happy pill.

Photo of Blogging Peeps note showing gratitudeFYI: You, my fabulous blogging peeps, have made it onto one of my colorful happiness notes. Thank you for adding a dollop of happiness in my life.

Do you have a special way you celebrate gratitude? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment.


©2013 Becky Green Aaronson The Art of an Improbable Life

20 thoughts on “Why a Happiness Jar Works Tirelessly (and Effortlessly) to Remind Us to Be Grateful

  1. Your post was such a good motivator, Becky! I’ve been thinking about doing something like this for the past month or so, wanting some kind of lasting physical embodiment of the warm fuzzies that flit through our days. But I’ve been slow to make it happen, so your post’s timeliness made me laugh. Okay, I’m on it! And thank you for your positive spirit and generous, sharing nature. You put such good stuff out here, Becky, I hope you feel all of the warmth and appreciation that your online community sends back!

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Tele! Thank you for your kind words. I definitely feel the love from our online community. That’s one of the many reasons it feels easy to send out good vibes whenever possible. I hope you enjoy all the happiness your Happiness Jar is sure to bring!

  2. Reminds me of a spiritual tradition I had forgotten based on Surrender, Trust and Gratitude. Very simple and very powerful. They seemed so intertwined it is almost impossible to do one without the other. Thank you for the beautiful reminder and I love the creative way you have engaged with Gratitude.

    • Thank you, Michael. Sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful. For me, having a visual reminder makes all the difference. Thanks for swinging by to say hello and leave your comment!

  3. I love the idea of your Happiness Jar. Maybe my own expression of gratitude boils down to this metaphor — the cup, as I see it, is neither half full nor half empty but always a little of both. Some days the focus in the news on things that sadden and anger me, coupled with my own trials and tribulations, can put me in a grumpy mood. Other days it’s the joy and gratitude for the simple gift of being alive and present to every moment that take over. So maybe the celebration of gratitude is feeling the full spaciousness of what I get from friends, family, and a brisk walk on an autumn day.

    • Deborah, I love your philosophy and how you express it…”gratitude is feeling the spaciousness of what I get from friends, family, and a brisk walk on an autumn day.” Exquisite.

  4. Such a great idea! How do you keep yourself from reading what’s in there during the year? :-)

    I don’t have a special way of noting gratitude that I share with another person. I do have a time at the end of the day where I give thanks for specific blessings, but I keep it to myself. Now I think I need to come up with a way Larry and I can do this together. Thanks for sharing your way–I expect I’ll be following you.

    • I have to admit, I peek at them every once in awhile when I need a boost. The funniest one I picked up randomly the other day simply said, “We are great parents!” which totally cracked me up. I have no memory of writing it nor any context in which to place it. CLearly, it was meant as a joke and must have been written on a challenging parenting day, trying to reassure us that we would get through whatever it was that had us worn down that day.

      I think gratitude is definitely a personal thing, but when shared it blossoms even more.

  5. Lovely idea! We don’t hear enough of the positive sides of life and we continually need to be reminded of our blessings. Thanks, Becky. Much love to you – Martha :) )

    • No wonder you are so damn happy, Elizabeth. You are the Happiness Jar ORIGINAL! I was racking my brain as I wrote this, trying to remember who initially inspired me with this idea. I was hoping whoever it was would leave a comment. Yay! Thank you again for your sweet inspiration. Now if I could just figure out a way not to be unhappy about my fuzzy brain. Ha Ha.

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