Back in 2012 or 2013, I first heard of the “happiness jar.” You get a glass jar or other container and use it to hold slips of paper on which you write down things that make you happy throughout the year. At the end of the year, you pull all the slips out and read through your happy moments of that year. I experimented with this in 2013, which wasn’t the best year for me. The jar got to about 3/4 full. I decided to do the same in 2014, which started out as a really lovely year. My jar was nearly half full by the end of March! Of course then everything fell apart. My year got worse and worse, and I kept putting little slips of paper in the jar. My happy moments became not true happy moments, but “less bad” moments. There were things on there like, “a full night of sleep” and “I didn’t cry today” and “I made it through this book.” It was like through the bad times, I was desperate to feel like something happy was happening, even when it wasn’t. The jar got full. Not long after we moved to Boston and things at home grew even worse, I tossed the jar and papers away without looking at them. I haven’t kept a happiness jar since.
This year, I decided to try something similar. Instead of filling a jar with slips of paper, I bought a bag of river pebbles and have been dropping them in the jar instead. A happiness garden, I suppose, instead of happiness jar. And I’m making sure I only put in pebbles when I have a truly happy moment. I knew it would be a hard year and that there probably wouldn’t be a lot of pebbles in the jar. (Before I went to Texas in late February, for instance, there were only seven.) At present –>, there’s about one happy pebble for every two days of the year-so-far, and most of those have been gathered either while I was on vacation or around the adoption of Nimi. Honestly, I’m surprised I have as many as that, because as I expected, it hasn’t been a terribly good year.
Once again, I find myself compelled to seek more happiness. I’m not going to falsify it, the way I did to myself in 2014, but I want to take a more active hand at mindfulness and appreciating the things in front of me. I’ve started another 100-happy-days photo challenge like I did in 2014 and 2015. While I don’t know if my actual happy things will increase, I hope my ability to see them will increase. Sometimes that’s all you can do, right?