Let’s be completely honest from the start: With the pandemic going around that has been causing hospitalization, unemployment, and a near-complete shutdown, it’s been a little hard to stay positive lately. After finally getting over a rough batch of seasonal depression, we’re now being advised to quarantine and practice social distancing. Yeah, I may be an introvert, but even I need some kind of social interaction. Being stuck in the house, only leaving to go to work, without being able to visit any parks or restaurants or even bars (because of course a quarantine had to happen right when I turned 21) just isn’t good for anybody’s mental health. My fiancée is still here with me, so I’m thankfully not completely alone and going crazy, but it’s still been pretty rough.
Which is why I think we could all use a little jar of hope.
Earlier this month, I started a little jar of happiness. Put simply, this is just a glass jar in which, whenever something makes you happy, you write it down and put it in the jar. At the end of the year – or month, or just whenever you need it – you take out all of the notes and read back on all the things that filled you with joy. You can do this every day, several times a day, a few times a week – just whenever something makes you happy.
These notes don’t have to be big either. Something amazing and huge doesn’t have to happen on the daily, and it’s honestly rather unrealistic to think so and will only lead to disappointment. As long as it’s something that made you smile, even for a moment, it’s still a moment of happiness. One of mine, in fact, is just about the trees starting to sprout flowers on my drive to work. That’s it. It’s only a few seconds that I see them on my way to and from work, but it’s something that makes me happy, so it counts.
You can decorate this jar as you please, too, which I found incredibly fun. Mine is an old Mason jar that I had lying around that I cleaned out. I painted it a bright yellow, painted a bee on it, and wrote “Bee happy” in cursive (because I love a good pun). I then topped it with a glossy seal so the paint wouldn’t chip and so it’d still look shiny instead of matte.
That’s how I decided to decorate mine, but you can decorate yours whatever way fits your aesthetic. This is your happiness jar, and it should reflect whatever most makes you happy. If you want to glue pressed flowers to the jar, do it. If you want to paint it neon pink, do it. If you want to leave it clean and use pretty paper as your notes to make it colorful as time goes on, do it. Do whatever you want to it.
The whole point of this happiness jar is to rewire your brain into looking for the good in things. We often forget what makes us happy as we’re going through life so quickly, unable to collect and recall our happiest moments as we go through the steps to get to the next day. Making this jar of happy moments is a wonderful way to take a moment to appreciate those little things that make you happy, to not let them pass you by, forgotten. You’d be surprised how many happy moments you would have otherwise forgotten if you don’t take the time to properly notice them.
And this practice gets your brain into a better, healthier pathway. Instead of just going about your day on autopilot, letting minutes pass you by, or worse, focusing only on the negative, it gives you an outlet to focus on the things that make you feel good and properly appreciate them. Better yet, this may cause you to even consciously seek out moments of happiness. Sometimes, I’ll be going about my day and something small will happen that I wouldn’t normally notice much, and I’ll think, Oh, that made me happy, I could put that in my jar. It causes me to properly notice it, instead of it just being another fleeting moment that I’ll forget about later on and makes that feeling of happiness even stronger.
All it takes to do this is a jar, a pen and some pieces of paper (I personally just cut up little index cards, but you can really use anything). It only takes 10 seconds out of your day, so why not try it? You’d be surprised what kind of moments you start to notice.