When I was younger, I would write my New Year Resolution or goals list based on what I wanted to do, be, or have that would make me happy. It took me several decades to understand that happiness comes from within and isn’t a physical object, place, or person.
It’s human nature to want to make our lives better. However, we have an inbuilt security system that resists change. So how do you make improvements to your life without upsetting that inner control freak?
Several years ago I saw a meme on Facebook which suggested starting a gratitude jar. The idea appealed to me, but in the example, you were told to write down something that you were grateful for each day, week, or month. While I approved of the sentiment, I was already adding my thoughts of gratitude to my daily journal. So, I improvised.
My happiness jar begins on the 1st January every year. Anything that I do over the course of twelve months which made me happy goes into my jar. I’m not only talking about the big achievements, even though they do make it into the pot, but the small moments, the kind people, and the instants of pride, joy, and hope that filled the year.
2016 started off with a bang for me. The first six months were exceptional, but then I hit a brick wall with my health and depression and struggled to keep my head up for the remaining half of the year. When you are living in a slump, it can be tough to focus on the positives. Using the happiness jar allows me to remember all the precious moments I experienced, the wonderful people who came into my life or helped me along my path, and this turns negativity on its head.
On New Year’s Eve, I open my jar, tip the contents onto the table and read all the tiny slips of paper. I light a candle, make myself a cup of tea, indulge in a biscuit or two, and focus my time entirely on the positivity of 2016. By the end of this exercise I am no longer fixated on the darker side of my year, but instead, I’m filled with hope, joy, and determination that the New Year will bring more incredible experiences to overflow my jar once again.
Some examples from my 2016 happiness jar include:
- My acupuncture sessions with Jo (Sept)
- Joined the gym and started running again (May)
- Having hot chocolate with my daughter before sales shopping – a lovely morning full of giggles (Jan)
- I was a guest speaker at the It’s Your Life West Midlands event (Jan)
- Drive-in Movie with the girls (Sept)
There are coffee dates, cinema trips, author/blogger events, and a host of other happy moments from last year in my jar. By doing this exercise, I’m allowing myself to start a New Year with an optimistic vibe.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to start this great habit. Grab a mug, teapot, or old jam jar, or buy yourself a pretty Mason jar and decorate it. Keep a small notepad close by so you can jot down anything that you did, or experienced, that made you smile, and add it to your pot.
I keep my happiness jar in a prominent place in my kitchen, that way I’m always reminded to add to it over the twelve months. It’s also a visual reminder of all the good things in your life when you see it filling up.
Let me know if you start your happiness project, and feel free to post any photographs of your jar on my Motivate Me Facebook page.
Happy New Year!
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