Why You Need A Gratitude Jar
Gratitude is a powerful tool that trains our brains and shapes our minds to adopt a more positive outlook and disposition. Every time we feel grateful for something, in that very moment we release negativity. We are not fearful. We are not hopeless. When we are grateful, we sculpt our brain’s perspective into one of openness and of possibilities for greater potential. Gratitude is the attitude, as they say.
What You See Is What You Get
I created a gratitude jar many years ago, and I just recently invited my family members to start their own jars. I use a tomato sauce jar, but you can use a box or a bag just as easily. I chose a jar because I like seeing all of my gratitude notes — folded stacks of paper collected over time. It gives me a visual reference of the overflowing abundance in my life and ultimately helps invite in more positivity. Sometimes I like to date what I write, so I can remember when and how I was grateful.
In this way, a gratitude jar helps prepare us for times we may feel tested and challenged. The practice of writing a daily, positive note influences our general mood. When we are feeling fulfilled, light, and full of gratitude, we are better able to respond (rather than react) to challenges.
Once your brain is trained to focus on positive experiences, you bring more positivity into your everyday life. Should a challenge arise, you’ll already be rooted and anchored into a much deeper and stronger foundation of positivity and thankfulness. It takes more to shake us when we are focused on the good that is happening every day.
Be Grateful for the Small Stuff
When my mother started her gratitude jar, she quickly felt that she’d run out of things to write down. It was easy for her to write about obvious things she was grateful for: life, her children, and her health. But it didn’t come naturally for her to look more closely at all the ways gratitude can show up.
I invited her to survey her home and identify simpler things to be grateful for, as a way of training her to recognize how grateful she really was.
As she looked around, it was easy to find gratitude for her lime tree — a beautiful plant covered in flowers that would soon blossom into fruits. She wrote a thank-you note for the lime tree and placed it in her jar. In her garden, she found many more inspirations, such as a mayflower that only blossoms in spring. She wrote a thank-you note on paper and placed it into her jar. The more she did this, the more my mother started opening to gratitude: I could see the magic happening as her jar quickly filled.
Gratitude builds over time as you move from noticing the big things in life to the small ways that we give thanks. When we train our brains to look for gratitude in every moment, we are ultimately happier and at greater peace. Being deeply grateful for the small things in life, like my cup of coffee in the morning, takes me away from living in negativity, and opens me up to expanded awareness.
Cultivate Simple, Healthy Habits
I write my gratitude notes on a small piece of paper. I make them small on purpose! Over time, I am training myself to practice a manageable habit. Filling in a small piece of paper doesn't burden me and doesn't feel like another task on my to-do list.
Keeping my gratitude notes in a jar makes it easy for me to commit to a daily practice that I can do with ease. A journal is too much space to fill — pages overwhelm me. But a small piece of paper feels very doable. I can quickly fill a small piece of paper.
Building a meditation practice can be great way to cultivate a healthy habit that may boost your mood and ability to focus on the present. Beginner meditator? Try this course on demistifying meditation with Almeiri Santos.
Gratitude in our daily lives can be a huge support to our system, just like a daily multi-vitamin. Think of a daily gratitude practice as Vitamin G. Over time, we build momentum, and it gets easier to see the joy and thankfulness in life. We shift away from negative thinking into a generally more positive state of being.
These days, I cannot go to sleep if I don't put a note in my gratitude jar. I have developed a deep habit.
And you can open your gratitude notes whenever you’d like. For me, they help when I’m having a difficult day. After I fill the jar and re-read them, I burn the small papers in a bucket so I’m not accumulating too much attachment to them. I add the ashes to my garden, and they act as compost. My mom put her ashes in her garden as well, a gentle compost for her blooms. She believes she’s getting more flowers because of the gratitude ashes! It’s like you’re planting the gratitude, she says.
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