• Stacey J.

Why gratitude is so good!

I'm sure you have heard about the Gratitude Jar. A gratitude jar is basically a jar full of gratitude. Some call it a joy jar, moments jar or happiness jar. What you decide to name yours is totally up to you. Starting a Gratitude Jar is one of the most powerful things you can do to create huge positive changes within your life.

Every time you feel or/and experience gratitude throughout the year, write it on a sheet of sticky note paper and put it in your jar. Then at the end of the year on December 31, you get to open the gratitude jar and read about the beautiful experiences and people you were grateful for in the year.

"The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn't need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie. Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal/jar—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction." - Greater Good Magazine

I encourage making jars for other moments in your life that can also be helpful. Some of those jars are:

Goals jar - some people may have vision boards but goal jars can be just as effective. Every time you complete a goal no matter how small, you add it to a sticky note and drop it into your jar.

Anger jar - Just as life brings you joy, it also brings anger. Anger is a natural reflex to unwanted or undesired actions but remember you are always in control of your reaction and responses. So why not write it down and drop it into that jar and let it lose its power.

Family gratitude jar - As family we don't always get along or see eye to eye. Basically family can get on your last nerves but there are so many great things about having family that is phenomenal. Instead of focusing on negative experiences, take time to think about what you love about your family and drop it into your jar. This is also a great bonding activity.

Let it go jar - I'm sure we all have things we need to let go! I mean bad habits, people or experiences. The let it go jar which I consider a small way of having a barn fire and writing down the things you need to let go and then burn it in the fire. Well don't just be going outside starting fires by yourself, instead make you a jar and add the things you need/want to let go and put them inside. Looking back to see how much you've removed from your life is exhilarating.

You can create any kind of jar you want to and this can become a healthy and productive activity for your well-being. So don't limit yourself.

Ready to start your own jars?

What you need:

A container (jar or Tupperware bowl with top) to put small paper in like sticky notes. You can dress it up with paint, ribbons or a label. Be creative. Put them in a place that you can see daily as a reminder that they are there waiting for your input.

If you really want to kick them up a notch, for your GOALS jar, get a set of color coded objects such as sticky tabs, marbles, different types of coins, etc. Then create your list of goals.

Here’s how it works:

Pick key behaviors that lead to a few of your goals. Assign each behavior a specific color or object. At the end of the day, see which behaviors you performed well. For each behavior you performed well, put the appropriate object in the jar. Set goals for yourself on how many objects you would like in the jar each week.

Here’s an example: I will use color-coded sticky tabs to represent each behavior. Here are sample key behaviors to change, along with their colors:

Pink = Sleep 8 hours each night. I know I have one really busy day/night, so my goal this week is achieving this 5 out of 7 days. At the end of the week, I want 5 pink tabs in the jar.

Blue = Drink 8 glasses of water/day. At the end of the week, I want 7 blue tabs in the jar.

Yellow = Take 15 min each day to review my plans & key items due for the week/upcoming days. At the end of the week, I want 7 yellow tabs in the jar.

Green = Eat less fried/starch, sugar during the week. If you are serious about getting healthy you need to be ready to commit, so start small and try to have at least 3 tabs in the jar by the end of the week. This will indicate that I met my goal 3 of 7 days this week.

Red = Spend 30 min/day giving 100% of my attention to family & pets. At the end of the week, I want 7 red tabs in the jar.

Each night, try to put a colored tab in the jar for each behavior you fully accomplished. At the end of the week count them up and see how close you are to your goals. You can adjust how many tabs you want to accumulate in the upcoming week to keep your behaviors and goals realistic. Repeat this process until the new behavior is a habit.

With our upcoming new year, now is a great time to give this process a try! 

You can use this process, or another similar one to modify any behavior or work toward most goals. What are your goals? What behaviors do you want to change? What methods of feedback and/or rewards do you find to work well?

Here's to your happiness!