I’d like to introduce you to our family gratitude jar, or as my 8-year-old Son calls it,
” The Amazing Good Stuff Jar”
We’ve been doing this as a family for 3 years now.
As we go through the year we write down all the “stuff” we’re grateful for, proud of or simply want to celebrate…as it happens, such as an event or a thought or feeling as it came to mind, big or small.
We use post its or star shaped pieces of coloured card to capture our own personal celebrations, (dates and time if appropriate) and pop them into the jar. Then on New Year’s Day, we pull them all out, read them out loud and relive our family year.
It’s a fab way to remember our year from both a work and personal perspective and also to really appreciate all the fantastic events, places and people in our lives.
It’s easy to think we nothing to be grateful for. We live in a world where we are constantly encouraged to want more, more “things” that we crave or yearn to possess. We often think these “things” will make us happy – tangible items such as gadgets, bigger cars, bigger homes, branded this and that or intangible items such as more time, inner peace, true love etc.
Whilst it’s not wrong to want something better or to desire more than we have, it’s also not healthy if we believe that we haven’t already got anything at all or that simply having “more” will make us happy.
It’s way too easy in this busy, busy world to take things and people for granted. To be so rushed that we never fully appreciate what we have until its too late.
Happiness is a state of being and not something that can be created by a pile of things
Yes, “stuff” can make you happy. But usually only for a short while. If you’re hanging around waiting for the world and “stuff” to make you happy, it’s really not going to happen.
True happiness comes from within and practicing gratitude or thanks for what you already have is a great way to start. Not only will it benefit your own satisfaction with life but also those around you as happier people tend to enjoy less stressful lives and are usually a lot more fun to be around.
Gratitude helps us realise what we already have and the awareness of what we’re grateful for can lessen our tendency to want more all the time.
Bring a sense of gratitude to your life
Whatever you have in life and wherever you are, you can always find some reason to be grateful. Gratitude puts situations into perspective. Acknowledging your own good fortune, for example – being grateful for waking up, for the beautiful rainbow outside you window, for the snowman you just built with your kids, the coffee you are drinking, the warm and safe house you live in, the fact you stood up for yourself today, you helped out a friend, you were kind to you, you gave yourself a break – no matter how seemingly slight or minimal at the moment – can actually enhance your overall wellbeing and sense of happiness.
So why not give some of these a go?
10 Gratitude Tips
- Gratitude Jar – start the year with an empty jar and record your family work and personal “good Stuff” as you go. On new years day review and celebrate your year
- Gratitude journal – For more of a personal approach, note down daily, one or more things you are grateful for. No fancy notebook, no computer program required – unless you want to (see Sarah Ban Breathnach – Simple Abundance: a Day book of Comfort and Joy)
- Compliment daily – try to give at least one compliment daily, whether directly to a person or by sharing your appreciation of something
- Put Things in Perspective – So yes, things aren’t always going to go your way. When things go wrong you can use the power of gratitude to release some of the negative emotions that you may be feeling due to the failure or setback that you just experienced. Following a negative event, put things into perspective by remembering that every difficulty carries within it possible learning. When faced with adversity, ask yourself the following questions: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, “How can I benefit from this?”, “what is there something about this situation that I can be grateful for?”
- Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip for a week – this can be really challenging and if you slip up, be kind to yourself and pull on all your willpower and keep going. Notice how much energy you were spending on negative thoughts. Negative thoughts create negative unhappy feelings.
- Things you take for granted – Imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your sight, your home, your ability to hear, your ability to walk, someone you love. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. Or take a moment to think of all the gadgets and tools which make your life easier and more enjoyable – your laptop, smart phone, coffee maker, TV, Juicer, fridge, and so on. Allow yourself to appreciate and feel gratitude toward all those people who made it possible for these gadgets and tools to be in your home, making your life so much more convenient.
- Be present – Notice your day-to-day world from a point of gratitude and be amazed at all the goodness we take for granted.
- Gratitude Walk – Go for a walk and see how many positive things you can find: the smell of freshly baked bread coming from the bakery, flowers growing on a window sill, the view from the top of a hill etc .
- Gratitude Trigger / Anchor – Place an object somewhere in your house or workspace which will remind you to feel grateful each time that you look at it. It can be a little sign that says “Thank You” hanging in front of your desk, or a door mat with the word “Welcome” written on it to remind you to be grateful each time that you arrive at home.
- 365 Thank You Notes – Why not post daily on your Facebook / Social media feed identifying people you can thank for everyday occurrences. Actively look out for people you can thank, 1 for every day of the year, and notice what happens.
Which of these gratitude exercises do you plan on using? Do you know of any other gratitude exercises? Allow the power of gratitude to enter your life and please let me know how you get on.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
[The Science of Second-Guessing (New York Times Magazine Interview, December 12, 2004)]”
― Stephen Hawking