I am not always the most positive person in the world. I can be pretty judgmental, and anyone who has met me knows that I’m way too opinionated.
Sometimes I get caught up in envy; I wish I had a better house, more money, better clothes, nicer vacations. Sometimes I get so caught up in my personal frustrations that I lose sight of just how lucky I am. Sometimes I forget to slow it down and just notice the wonderful moments that happen every day.
But last New Year my good friend Tara gave me a wonderful idea to help me stay tuned in to the positives. She told me to get a jar, and every time something good or happy or surprising happens, to write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. I was supposed to collect those little pieces of paper all year long. “When the next New Year comes along”, my friend told me, “you start a new jar. But every time you need to be reminded of all the good things in your life, you pull out one of the notes from last year.”
What a simple and concrete idea! What a fun little prompt to help me remember to tune in to my life. To stay focused on what matters most.
Last New Year’s Day I started this jar:
I added to it a lot at first, but after a while, I sort of forgot about it. Everyday life took over, and I didn’t remember my jar of good things.
So finally I put it right on top of my microwave, where I’d be sure to see it a couple of times every day. Sometimes I’d have to stand there and think back over the past few days to find that one moment to record (“One of the kids in my class gave me a big hug.” or “The sun was shining on the snow and making it sparkle like diamonds.”). Other times, I’d come home with a note already composed in my head and ready to go (“The boys are coming home tonight!”)
It was a really good exercise for me. It turned me toward the light, if you will. Since I’m one of those driven women who doesn’t want to ever let anyone down, I felt compelled to fill my jar. I began to actively look for the moments that made me smile. I sought them out, and saved them in my heart, and then in my jar.
I suspect that in the past year, I have learned a whole new way to look at things, at least in part. I wouldn’t exactly call myself Pollyanna now, but I do think that I’m getting better at counting my many blessings.
This morning my daughter was here for a visit. I pulled out last year’s mason jar, and shook it. I found a new jar, and placed it on top of the microwave. “Let’s look back at something wonderful from last year!”, I said to Kate. I reached into the very full 2014 jar and pulled out a note. I opened it and burst into laughter.
I smiled at my husband and daughter, and held up the little yellow slip of paper. “It says, ‘January 13th. I came home from work to find that Paul surprised me with swordfish.'”
I am clearly pretty easy to please!
I’m looking forward to a new year of funny little scribbled messages, to finding new moments of delight. And I’m looking forward to pulling out last year’s pleasures to see just how lucky I really am.
Thank you, Tara! This was so much fun!