A Wundertopf: Writing About the Things That Leave you in 'Wonder'

At some point in your life, someone probably told you that you should keep a journal and write down something you are grateful for about once a day, just to remind you how good things are or to put things in perspective. Or something like that.

By listing things that make you grateful, it forces you to look at the good things in life. This creates a list of things you can look back on when things aren’t going your way and can help improve your mental resilience all around. A journal gives you a perspective when the bad days hit, working as an ‘emotional band aid’ to show the better moments that are just forgotten in times of need. Maybe it might even turn you into an optimist.

For me, that never seemed like much fun. The issue is that some days are just not great and it’s hard to force yourself to write something that you are grateful for when you’re feeling down.

Here’s a fun alternative: a wundertopf.

In my English course this semester the professor started us off with a mason jar and a small notebook. The idea behind it is that for the next two weeks or so, we were expected to put something into it each day that brings about wonder.

Wonder is defined as ‘a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.’ Anything that fits this description, or anything that you immediately associate with your wundertopf is fair game.​Wundertopf is German, though not for wonder jar (since jar is just jar in German and that’s dull), but for wonder pot. Either way, the idea from my class is to put the item into the jar in order to add to our collection. As for keeping it on your own, limiting yourself to a jar could always work well if you want it to be a small collection, especially if you’re in a dorm, but you could always just keep the notebook.

Anytime something makes you stop to appreciate it, you should write it down to remind yourself. It’s a great way to look back at the intriguing things that caught your attention throughout the week, month and so on. Even if you don’t look back at it, you will at least be forced to focus on things that make you happy and walk yourself through the reasoning behind it.

The basic idea for writing down what you notice and wonder about is that you focus on things that make you happy, so that you have something to look back on during those not so great days, just like a gratuity journal. This way, instead of writing something you are grateful for, it can just be something that made you laugh, which I find can be even more uplifting.

There were three rules given in class, but I think that one is applicable, especially if you plan on actually keeping the jar. Please don’t put anything dangerous, toxic, illegal, or living into your jar. It probably shouldn’t need an explanation but someone’s going to do it. Emphasis on the living thing, though. Seriously, don’t kill anything.

If you do want something happy, just something small, a notebook isn’t much. Amazing things surround us and it’s worthwhile to stop and investigate it every once and awhile.