It all started at the beginning of 2017, after seeing a post on Facebook. (I wonder how many modern tales start this way..?!) The post said: “This January start the year with an empty jar. Each week add a note with a good thing that happened. On New Year’s Eve empty the jar and read about the amazing year you’ve had.”
The idea appealed to me, as I’d heard a lot about the power of gratitude to positively influence happiness and wellbeing. I had been trying to practice writing things I was grateful for each day in my journal, but the weekly jar seemed more achievable, practical and potentially something which could be more social too.
So I suggested to my partner Thijs that we could start a gratitude jar together, and he was very keen on the idea (to my slight surprise – I somehow thought he might find it a bit cheesy or over the top, but he was willing to give it a go!). And, unlike many other new year’s resolutions, this one has stuck; more than half way through 2017, we’re still committed to this weekly practice! It has made a difference to our lives in a few lovely ways which I thought I’d share.
Sharing the good things
Each Sunday Thijs and I make our list of things which we feel grateful for from the past seven days. I enjoy making my list, and re-living some of the positive things which have happened throughout the week. Yet it’s also really enjoyable hearing what’s on Thijs’ list – what has made him smile and feel thankful that week. Practicing gratitude seems to become more powerful when sharing this practice with another person.
Making the gratitude jar a weekly ritual means that it can inevitably pop into your head at certain points throughout the week. This has particularly been the case for Thijs, who has told me that having the jar means he pays more attention to positive points throughout the week, and he thinks – “this might be one for the jar”. It is true that what you focus on seems to grow, and once you start paying attention to gratitude it becomes more clear just how much there is to be grateful for.
Even when I have a hard week, and nothing seems to have gone right – which of course happens to us all at times – focusing on even a small experience I feel grateful for can make a dark time seem just a little bit brighter.
Since I began regularly practicing mindfulness, I have become more conscious of the power of my thoughts to impact upon my mood and my outlook. I find it valuable to observe my thoughts, quiet my mind and simply be in the moment. And I also notice how much it’s possible to gain from consciously generating positive thoughts, such as gratitude. This type of practice can give me more energy, which I can then share with loved ones and those around me.
When reflecting upon the things we’re grateful for, most often our lists are filled with:
- the relationships we value – with each other, with friends and with family;
- creative experiences – like dancing, playing guitar or writing;
- a sense of achievement – such as a good day at work, helping someone else out or having an enriching travelling experience.
In a way, this practice is also a type of mindfulness; focusing on and remembering what’s most important to us in life. Realising what is actually making me consistently grateful over time means that I can give more time and energy to these people and things. Or that’s the idea anyway – it’s still an ongoing practice!
Share your comments:
What do you think? Do you have a regular gratitude practice or are you considering starting one? What difference has gratitude made / do you hope it could make to your life? Thanks for reading! 🙂
Read other posts on Mindful Change:
- Reasons for hope in a changing world: Chandolin retreat review
- Can mindfulness change the world? Daniel Goleman event review
- Can happiness change the world? Three lessons from Bhutan
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