Three Jars of Gratitude
I’m not one for making resolutions or writing in a gratitude journal. This is mainly because I don’t trust myself to write in one. What if everything I was thankful for turned into a huge list of things I bought? After a month or so, I would start lying to my journal like people who conveniently skip over “entire bag of chips” when journaling for Weight Watchers.
I would be great at paranoid journaling.
But the truth is I wanted to do something different this year. There’s always good with the bad and taking a moment to shout out my new canary yellow ballet flats doesn’t mean I shop instead of love people. Of course not, I just gave my daughter a hug three minutes ago.
She wasn’t into it.
I like the idea of changing how I react to less than ideal situations: it could be an unsupportive person, the daily grind of boredom, rush hour traffic, or very serious things like financial and health concerns. When so much of our lives seem out of our control, we do have the ability to not include ourselves in drama, gossip or – as my family did last week – screaming at bad drivers.
Usually I yell obscenities at people who can’t drive, but this time, and out of nowhere, we decided to scream happy things at terrible drivers like BEST DECISION OF YOUR LIFE and GREAT HAIR. Immediately our trip to the mall became a rip-roaring joy ride.
If we had yelled sinister things, the people in the other cars wouldn’t have changed their behavior. Being incredibly mad and irate only affects me. There are times to get mad and even more times to scream, really, really loud: MUST BE A HARVARD GRAD!
It was after my car trip to the mall that I decided I would start documenting gratitude, but not with a journal. I went out and bought three mason jars to fill with things that I’m grateful for and memories I want to remember. On New Year’s Eve of this year, my family will sit down and read what we wrote.
I came home from the craft store and put the jars on the counter. I briefly explained what they were for and how my partner and our daughter could write anything they like on a Post-it and slip it in their jar. Over the next week, I put a few slips of paper into my jar and the other two remained empty.
And then it happened: my partner put a little yellow slip of paper in his and our daughter quickly followed with five of her own.
Last year was such a mess of incredible highs and abysmal lows and I’m more than thrilled to know that all of us are choosing to react differently this year. We’re focusing on shouting out happy rather than wallowing in moments that could be better.
We’re choosing to see our three jars as half-full rather than half-empty.