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A “Happiness Jar” may help you focus on the positive

I belong to a group on facebook called “Old Woman, take a look at my life,” a play on the 1972 Neil Diamond song “Old Man, take a look at my life.” The name of the group doesn’t over joy me, as inside my head I am still about 20 years old. One of the recent posts had been shared from the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, well known for her book, “Eat, Pray Love,” where she introduces the concept of a happiness jar.
The idea is simple. Find a jar, a pretty box or a special container and each day, every day, regardless if it was a good one or if it was miserable, write down on a piece of paper the happiest moment or your most spectacular memory of that day. It doesn’t have to written on pretty paper or fancy letterhead. All you may have available is an envelope from your electric bill wadded up or torn, or perhaps some yellow stickies you keep in your purse to remind you to pay a bill or to pick up milk at the grocery store. It’s not about the paper your memory is written on; it’s about the memory itself. Some days hold more than one extraordinary happening. Write it down, fold it and put it in the container.
At the end of the year, take the slips of paper out and read them and enjoy those special memories that are a part of your life once again. Maybe you went to a movie or saw a musical. It may have touched your heart, or perhaps it made you laugh until your sides hurt or even brought tears to your eyes. You don’t have to put just notes from yourself in the container; be creative. Put that movie ticket in, a token of a special day. You may find that just re-reading and reliving those extraordinary times will be enough to get through when life becomes rocky. It might have been a particularly tough day and you just need a boost. There aren’t any rules to this. Pull out a piece of paper and enjoy one of your happy moments again. Pull out more if you need to.
My mother kept a diary for many years. Somewhere in the shuffle of a move, it disappeared. Ten years after her death, I would give anything to have something tangible I could touch that she held and read something she wrote. I think this is why I find the happiness jar so intriguing. Can you imagine the joy it might give a spouse, parents or a child to find something written from someone special in their life who was no longer with them? Maybe they are having a hard day, and they open a paper written in their parent’s handwriting that said “My son stopped by to see me today. His visit made my day.” Perhaps it is Christmas time, and your granddaughter reaches into the happiness jar and pulls out your family recipe for homemade fudge.
You feel your joy once again as you open a paper on the day your daughter graduated from high school or the day your child learned how to read or to write their name for the first time. Maybe you were able to coax a smile or a laugh from an elderly parent and you felt like you reached them once again. Sometimes stepping back for just a moment in time is all you need to have an incredible day full of gratitude and happiness.

The possibilities are endless.