Creating a happiness jar is a simple way to collect the best parts of your day, to recall good emotions, and to train your brain to look for more to celebrate. I think of it as a vessel full of love notes from life, reminding me that it’s all going to be okay, there’s beauty to unearth everywhere, and I can always change my mind.
“Instead of looking at what’s depressing, look at what’s a blessing.” – Kristen Butler
What is a Happiness Jar?
The Happiness Jar is a straightforward concept, a project, and a practice started by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Her version of the happiness jar entails writing down your happiest moment from the day on a piece of paper and tossing it into a vessel of some sort.
I take a slightly different approach to my happiness jar, but I’ll get to that in a little bit.
The goal is to bolster a positive mindset, where you’re focused on looking for good things during the day, and recognizing those things when they appear.
Keeping a happiness jar around is one of the most accessible practices you can maintain, and I think it’s worth it. It doesn’t take long to start one, and it takes just a moment of mindfulness to keep it going.
There’s a certain joy in discovering a good moment in the day, because even bad days have not-so-bad aspects that we can be thankful for. Recording those good moments cements them in our minds.
Think about those things you normally forget about or take for granted. The smallest blessings are often overlooked, but they’re worth looking at and they add up. What made you smile, regain hope, or experience a sense of peace? These are the kinds of things that can fill your happiness jar.
How to Make Your Happiness Jar
This is your happiness jar. You can put whatever you like in the container of your choosing; the vessel does not matter. I bought a glass jar shaped like a pumpkin for $2 at a thrift shop, and that became my happiness jar. I love it.
Decorate your jar (or not) however you like. You can use pretty, colored paper or just use scraps of whatever paper is lying around the house. You can label your jar or leave it as is. You can give it a theme or keep it generic. This is your creation and it’s meant to resemble what lights you up.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about the content of your happiness jar—things you can look for in your day and write down:
- Things you’re grateful for today
- Good things that happened today
- Random acts of kindness you partook in, either as the giver, receiver, or observer
- Words of encouragement
- Reasons why life is beautiful and good
- Inspirational quotes
- Positive affirmations
- A moment of the day where you felt peaceful
- Any thought that makes you smile
This is how my happiness jar works: I pull from it about once a day. My jar contains uplifting thoughts, things worthy of my gratitude, insightful reminders, and any string of words that encourages me to lighten up. The notes are generic enough to resonate with others, too, because I often share them on Instagram and Facebook.
You can contribute one positive thought a day to your jar, or as many as you like. You can keep your thoughts neatly folded on a piece of paper and let them be, or pull out a slip of paper on a dreary day when you need a little sunshine.
Keep your happiness jar personal and exclusively yours, or create a communal happiness jar that the whole family/workplace/group of friends can contribute to and pull from.
One small positive thought a day really can change your entire life. Interspersing your days with an uplifting love note interrupts your thought pattern. The more you do that, the easier it becomes to look on the bright side, because you’re strengthening new neural pathways, and championing different ways of thinking and being in the world.
Always Look for the Good
The purpose of your happiness jar is to remind you that life is good and there is something good in every day, if you keep opening your eyes to it all. Your mind is a powerful thing; fill it with negative thoughts, or fill it with positive thoughts—do either, and your life will adjust accordingly.
Positive thinking evokes more energy, more optimism, more joy, more gratitude, more love, and more connection. By expressing something positive in writing, we let the moment sink into our emotional state. We don’t just remember it; we really feel it.
From this feeling state of joy, life will begin to respond. The world adjusts according to the beliefs we hold.
A happiness jar will help you practice choosing happiness on a more consistent basis. It can encourage you to keep your face turned to the sun, to let go of what you can’t control, to accept whatever comes your way today, to spot the opportunity in the struggle, and to believe that whatever happens is the best for this moment.
- Do you own a happiness jar, or are you interested in creating one?
- Do you have any happy thoughts, words of encouragement, positive quotes or affirmations, or any other inspiring words that belong in a happiness jar?
Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think!
Share this post with someone who might be interested in making their own happiness jar.
Every time we fall out of alignment with our peace, we’re given another chance to rise up again, this time with more passion and humility.