Makeover your life with Gratitude - The Happy Jar

Gratitude is a POWERFUL way to reclaim your life. It's an act of love, appreciation and kindness toward yourself and the universe; it's like a beacon calling more good things into being simply because the light is already shining on the good. It is probably the single most important thing I do every day. Gratitude is not just something I am or have but it's a verb, an action, a choice and a lifestyle. I may not be a runner or even a light jogger but gratitude is an exercise that has strengthened my heart and health (mind and body) in immeasurable ways. Giving thanks should not be reserved for one or two days a year; this should be something you do every day, just like brushing your teeth. In fact, you can do this WHILE brushing your teeth! Gratitude is one of those things that can be done anytime and anywhere. Did you hop into the slowest line at the grocery store? Instead of getting aggravated at the cashier, take this opportunity to think thoughts of gratitude either for the cashier and the service she is providing or for anything you can think of to be thankful for. For example, I might think "I am grateful to have the financial ability to buy groceries. I am grateful for my legs, the ability to stand and walk - mobility. I am grateful for the selection of fruit and vegetables and all of the service workers that it took to bring this assortment here to the store so that my family and I have access to healthy food choices." See how that works?

Gratitude is so much greater than complaining. Have you ever been around someone who does nothing but complain? It's a real downer to listen to but especially for the person stuck in repeat! Imagine that effects this person is inflicting on him or herself by regurgitating nothing but woes. Complaint is poverty of imagination; it's "easy" to see what is lacking, what is wrong or should be different but it takes more determination and effort to look past the gripes to the gratitudes. It's a badass skill to develop. Imagine, just deciding one day to waylay the worries and focus on good things all day. Sure, some negative thoughts will crop up, that's natural, BUT just play with this for a day and see what happens. Make a concerted effort to notice more good, more happy moments, more causes for celebration because you KNOW I am all about celebrating.

But what about people with problems?! Well we all have problems love. This isn't suggesting to bury our heads in the sand and avoid addressing issues; this is simply a strategy to becoming resilient in the face of adversity. I have known GREAT adversities, from living in poverty, being temporarily homeless at one point, a domestic violence survivor, a single name it, I've probably been through it. And even now, my life is problem-free nor will it ever be. That isn't how life works. The purpose of gratitude is it helps us cope and work through problems rather than allowing problems to completely sink us. Because honeys, I refuse to sink. I will NOT be reduced or lessened by any problem, past, present or future that I may encounter.

It will feel strange at first, especially if you are more accustomed to lodging perpetual complaints but the more you get used to basking in gratitude, the happier you'll get and the easier the process becomes. Gratitude plants the seeds of miracles in your life. Today, I am grateful. Repeat after me, even if you are in the THICK of it right now, humor me and say: "I am grateful for....." Now think about one thing you are grateful for. There is always something to be grateful for. You're breathing! Say "I am grateful to be alive." What else? Do you have kids? Parents? Pets? a loving partner? A home? Can you read, write and delight in learning new ways to help yourself? Be thankful! Do you have food in your cupboards? Do you have clothing? Do you have warm and safe shelter? Clean water? Fresh air in abundant supply? The more you seek the good in your life, the more good you'll find. We get whatever our dominant focus is on. So no matter how small, the more you notice the good, that good grows.

I have developed several practices around gratitude. One is journaling; if you've checked out my other website, you know my take on the benefit telling your story, which can be through journaling, blogging, singing, miming...whatever. Sharing your story is SO therapeutic, not just for yourself but for others. My other journal is devoted soley to gratitude. I also have thankful jars placed throughout my house, like pit stops of joy. Jars with little pieces of paper that I've scribbled notes of niceties, wins, and things to be thankful for all go in these jars. I originally got the idea years ago from one of my favorite and beloved writers, Elizabeth Gilbert; I'll include one of her posts below so you too can be inspired to maybe begin your gratitude practice in a jar. Basically you take a clear jar, decorate it and then you write your joys, happy moments, positive aspects and gratitudes big and small, on slips of paper throughout the year and then you have this as a visual reminder to remember how blessed you really are. It sounds very simple and it is, although when times are difficult, it can be very challenging to find the good. Dare I suggest, that is the time when it's the most important. Finding reasons to be thankful will lift you to higher ground much faster than staying in a state of wallowing and worry.

This isn't to minimize our trials - well perhaps it is, actually. I'll reword this to say it isn't to devalue our trials but it will dilute their power over our happiness and quality of life. This is one of many ways to become a strong and resilient woman. Allow your bounce back to be greater than any set back. Now go forth and find a jar, even if it's just a coffee can for right now, and find 5 things to write down today. Start there and work your way UP. Have fun with this and post a picture of your Happy Jars, I would love to see what you come up with!

Please find the original Facebook post below which inspired me to give gratitude a whirl. I am ever so glad I did!!!

Elizabeth Gilbert December 31, 2014 ·

HAPPINESS JARS! Dear Ones - Here it is the end of the year, and I thought it might be a good time to re-introduce to you all the concept of a Happiness Jar. What is a Happiness Jar? The simplest thing in the world. You get yourself a jar (or a box, or a vessel of any kind) and every day, at the end of the day, you grab a slip of paper and write down on it the happiest moment of the day. Even on lousy days, you do this. Because even on lousy days, there is one best moment (or at least, one least-worst moment.) You stick that little piece of paper in the jar. Over the years, you have a record of your happiness. On bad days, I will thrust my fist in that jar and go fishing — pulling up a handful of great moments that I would have utterly forgotten, had I not documented them. I've been doing this practice for years, and I love it. If my house ever caught on fire, this would be the one material object I would grab before I ran out the door...because what's inside this jar? THAT'S WHERE IT'S AT — the whole point of this life. Over the years, my Happiness Jar has taught me much. What continually amazes me is what ends up on the slip of paper every day. Not awesome events, not huge achievements — usually just a small and tiny thing, a moment of awareness...that moment when you step outside and between the house and the car you get hit on the top of the head with a beam of sunlight, and suddenly feel awash with gratitude simply for being alive, and you think, "Yes. This is it." It's usually something that small — and something that grand. I know that many of you have started this practice, too — and I love seeing the pictures of your jars, and hearing how you have adapted this to your own lives. I love the woman who put one in the middle of her dining room table, and she and her kids each put an entry in there every day — what a cool family practice! And I love the woman who wrote to me last week saying that she had the hardest year of her life, but she kept her Happiness Jar practice going the whole time, and today — on the last day of the year, she's going to pull out each piece of paper in the jar, to remind her that even now, even in hard times, there was always one good moment a day. So if anyone wants to begin this practice tomorrow, a New Year is always a great place to start! Sending love, and, of course, wishing you all an abundance of Happy Moments in 2015! ONWARD, LG

Take a look at her album full of examples of other women's happy jars!

Here is one of mine:

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