It’s a Good Life


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:

The good things that happened in 2014.

The good things that happened in 2014.

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!

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7 thoughts on “It’s a Good Life

  1. Good idea. It can be hard to find something positive about a bad day/week/month. Sometimes, I’m so pissed off with life in general that I don’t even feel like looking for something good, so anything that pushes me “towards the light” is the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a beautiful and sweet and such a nice thing to start. I’m sure it will bring much laughter and delight as you unfold these precious moments from the previous year.

    Jealousy or anger or sadness—we feel like it for a reason and it’s always a valid one. I used to feel angry if a teacher did not give my child the mark they deserved. I was even more angry if my child was overlooked for a prize, or for a spot in the ‘A’ team, or if an adjudicator didn’t announce my child the winner when, clearly, they were the best. On top of this, I was jealous of the child who did get the prize or the spot in the team, and I hated the teacher or the adjudicator for not recognising how good my child was.

    My child would get over it, but I’d be a crying and sobbing mess. My husband would say, ‘You’re being irrational. It’s only a prize that no one even cares about.’ I’d try to get over it, but it would still be there—a seething ball of hot red anger sitting in my belly at the sight of the teacher or the mention of their name, and the colour green whenever I glimpsed the child who’d won. I was so ashamed of my feelings, I didn’t own up to them. My family knew because they saw how I reacted, and sometimes, I approached the teacher concerned—angrily. In fairness to myself, sometimes the decision was unfair, but my reaction was way out of proportion and over the top.

    Then a teacher made a decision that really floored me, literally—I was rolling about on the floor, sobbing and crying, and almost ended up in hospital. Following that, I opened up, knowing I didn’t want to keep feeling like this. I wanted to get rid of these horrible feelings, become a better person—one who wasn’t angry and jealous. Over the course of a few months, I uncovered the real reason for my anger and feelings of utter despair whenever something unfair happened to my children. It related back to my childhood when I was a good girl and my ‘goodness’ wasn’t recognised by my mother. Watching my ‘good’ children try their hardest then be looked over for a prize or for a spot in the team or for first place set off all of those childhood feelings.

    It took me over a decade to realise all of this, and now that I understand why, I don’t look upon it as a ‘bad’ side of me that I want to hide from the world and not admit to—I accept it as part of me. When those horrible feelings begin to stir—and they still rumble occasionally—I know the reason why and I just sit with them quietly until they settle. Which they do. And the teachers are spared the rantings of a lunatic mother!

    I’m not saying your negative feelings are as strong or intrusive as mine were, but you’re feeling them for a reason and that reason would be a good one. So while you’re reading your beautiful messages to the good side of you, be kind to the negative side, too. Let the anger or jealousy or whatever strong emotion you’re feeling come, and let it tell you why it’s there, and give it some understanding—I suspect that’s all it needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Louise!
      Thank you for this very thoughtful message; you are so right! Over the years, with the help of a very good therapist, I’ve learned how to sit with my feelings and just let them come over me. She showed me that trying not to feel them just makes them stronger. Letting them come, not judging them, then letting them pass has been enormously helpful for me.

      In my case, the little notes are more to help me appreciate those many little gifts in every day, rather than to take away any negatives. Sometimes I just get going so fast that I realize its Friday and I didn’t even notice the week. Its really an exercise in “mindfulness”. And its so fun to look at how little it really takes to make me happy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I did this, too, based on Tara’s suggestion and passed the idea along to other friends. Like you, I was hung-ho at first, then the jar lay dormant for quite a while over the summer and fall. I plan on looking into the 2014 jar over the weekend and then start a new one for 2015. I can’t wait to see what sweet, happy moments these little slips of paper recall and I hope I will be better this year in recording my blessings….thanks for reminding me, Karen. I am truly blessed and fortunate – and you have reminded me of that.

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    • Happy New Year, Nancye!

      I think that I really got the idea from you, but then Tara told me about it too. I put that jar right where I had to see it every day; for a while it was on top of the coffee maker! You are one of the people who always seems to appreciate the little things, you always find a way to mention how lucky you are!

      Like

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