Annalisa Palmer
January 01, 2015 4:00 am

Have you heard of gratitude jars? They have invaded Pinterest and Etsy as well as my own family. The idea is simple: Get a jar, try and write down something that you’re happy for each day, put it in there, and read through them at the end of the year. The fam and I started doing this in the middle of 2014, when I discovered the idea on Pinterest and forced them to cooperate. My dad got hooked fast. Instead of grumbling when he came home from work after a bad day, he would drop his keys on the counter and remember the jar (partially because the jar was also on the counter), and start looking for goodness in his day, recalling the smallest things.

We tend to think the year flies by, and we don’t always remember it very clearly. Ask yourself: What was the best thing that happened to you in August? What was your mood like in the middle of April? How were the first two weeks of the new year? If you can answer these questions, congratulations! You are blessed with a fantastic memory. But for most of us, opening the jar will bring the recollections flooding back: a special meal with great friends, a triumph at work, scoring higher on an exam than expected, a cozy Sunday spent reading the paper and watching your favorite shows. You’ll think of all the things that made your year great, and ideally this will outweigh any sadness or suffering you may have experienced along the way.

It’s important to start the jar today, IMO, because you can harness the sense of renewal and “fresh start” energy that comes with the new year. As soon as you do it once, you’ll be inclined to do it again, especially as you see the jar grow.

Of course, you shouldn’t feel pressure to write every day if you don’t want to. Shoot for once a week and just jot down any burst of feeling or random act of kindness and throw it in there—the rules, if you could even call them that, are really fluid. But basically, once you’ve committed to making a jar for yourself or your family, you’re halfway to happiness.

As for the “jar” itself, well, the container doesn’t really matter. You could be super twee about it, and fancifully decorate a mason jar or vase like you see here on Etsy or Pinterest, or you could save that popcorn/cookie tin your nan gave you for Christmas. Use a piggy bank, an old shoebox, a Ziploc bag, whatever.

Same goes for the notes. You don’t need fancy paper, unless using some makes it more fun for you, in which case venture to a paper or craft store and get some special supplies that will incentivize your writing. My family just uses random note pads around the house and your average Bics to get the job done. I like the idea of using differently colored papers, so that the jar becomes really vivid and pretty to look at.

The only thing that really matters is the memories.

I sincerely hope you will give this gratitude jar a chance. It will not turn you into a completely new person, but it’s a gesture that will help you be thankful for the present moment, and to believe that you are blessed—even if you are broke and subsisting on pizza.

[Images via here and here]

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