Gratitude and Blessings

I wrote about doing this back in 2014, but the idea has evolved in the ensuing years.

So back at the end of 2012, I came across an idea on Facebook called The Good Things Jar. Everyday you write down something good that happened during the day on a slip of paper and you put it in a jar. At the end of the year, you dump out the jar and review all of the good things.

I started in 2013 and for the first few years, I did it just that way, with a twist. Not only did I go through the jar and review, but I also wrote them all down at the end of whatever journal I kept that year. It was fun and enlightening and I learned that I often struggle knowing what day it is.

I also learned that I could save myself some paper if I refined the process.

I got rid of the jar and started writing my blessings directly in my journal. The switch made sense as I write in my journal daily anyway. At the end of the year, I can flip through my journal and review my blessings.

In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a few things.

I have a lot of gratitude for food. -Food makes me happy. I know what you’re thinking. Not surprising given my fat ass. But when you think about it, food is a simple pleasure. The right flavor at the right time can brighten your day. (And when you take into account the food insecurity that plagues this country, having adequate nutrition IS something to be grateful for.)

Many of my blessings are simple things. -A pretty sunset. Reading outside. Opening the windows after having them shut all winter. Those tiny moments that we take for granted or overlook, I often find myself savoring them.

I’m very grateful for the people in my life. -I’m not the best person, and yet there are people in my tiny universe who think of me randomly and are willing to help me when I need it (even if I don’t ask for it) and who just in general brighten my existence with their presence. I don’t express that enough and I need to work on that.

Sometimes I’m just grateful to make it through the day. -Some days are shit. Some days it’s hard for me to find that blessing. So, I’m just grateful to have made it through somewhat intact. Surviving the garbage is the blessing.

I feel like the active cultivation of gratitude has helped improve my mental health over the years. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not touting this as the cure to depression and anxiety. But I think it’s one of the healthier coping mechanisms I have in life, especially when my brain chemicals are particularly off balance. The habit of identifying one good thing every day helps when it feels like I can’t see anything but the bad.

I like harvesting the little good bits.

They don’t spoil.

The Good Things Jar

Good things jarI realize the month is about half-way over, but I think there’s still time for folks to start doing this, if they are so inclined.

This idea came across my Facebook at the very end of 2012. A friend of mine posted it saying that she was going to do it and I thought it might be a fun idea, so I also gave it a try.

All you have to do is take a jar and every day add a “good thing” to it, written on a slip of paper. The good thing can be anything you deem good: a blessing, a funny conversation, some kind of win, an observation of nature…really, anything. There’s no limit. There’s no definition of “good”. Just whatever you think needs to go in the jar. I dated all of mine, but I suppose you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. It’s your jar. Rock it your way.

So, every day of 2013 I came up with something “good” to put in the jar. Several days featured more than one thing. For a few the best I could do was that I was still “vertical and ventilating”. Many are out of context and some I can’t remember exactly what brought them about. But the point of the challenge was to find, even on the worst of days, ONE good thing to put in the jar.

On January 1st, I read every slip of paper in the jar. I smiled the whole time. It was really neat to see all of the good things that had happened in 2013 that I chose to put in the jar. Some of them I’d forgotten about until I read them again.

I’m doing the jar again for 2014. Now that I’ve seen the results of it, I’m sort of hooked on it. And I encourage everyone else to give it a try.

There’s still time.