The Happiness Jar


As soon as November hits we start seeing the blogosphere blow up with posts about gratitude or happiness. While I certainly love to celebrate Thanksgiving as much as the next person I also think it is absurd that we seem to reserve these sentiments for just one month out of the year.

Instead, I propose that you use November and the impending Thanksgiving holiday to create a happiness plan for all year round. And to do this I suggest creating a Happiness Jar.

The concept is simple.

  • Get a jar.
  • Write down good things that happen to you.
  • Place them in the jar.

Each and every time something happens in your life that makes you especially happy, proud, grateful, or joyful write it down on a small slip of paper and put it in the jar.

I am not, by any means, the first person to come up with the idea of putting your joys into a jar. You can simply Google “happiness jar” and you’ll get dozens of results to read through. I just want to share it as a great practice that can help you focus on the good things in life every day, not just at Thanksgiving.

It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”

There are some things you’ll start noticing when you keep a Happiness Jar. It’s not that bad things will stop happening but if you force yourself to focus on, remember, and write down the good things you’ll stop dwelling on the negative things. Even when something bad happens, like my recent surgery, there are positives. No, a herniated disc is not fun and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I do wish that more people had a secure network of friends, family, and housemates who can come through in a crisis. I was grateful for all the help I was given.

So here is your homework. Find a jar. It can be a decorative jar from Pier 1 or an old, washed out pickle jar. Put it somewhere you will remember it. Every day for the next 21 days sit down with a small slip of paper and write down one thing that made you happy. Fold up the paper and put it in the jar. Add this to your to-do list every day or set a calendar reminder on your phone so you make sure you do it. Soon you’ll start noticing the happy things that happen all around you. You’ll start getting excited about the prospect of writing them down once you get home to your jar.

If you like, each year pick a day to empty the jar. Some people do this on New Year’s Eve. You could pick Thanksgiving or your birthday or the first Tuesday in April – it really doesn’t matter. You can reflect on all the joy and gratitude you felt every day. Then throw these away or burn them in a ritual or whatever you like so you can start over fresh for the next year.

Tell me about the ways that you cultivate happiness all year round. Comment here or join the conversation on Facebook.

Women For Living in Community